Street in Timisoara, Romania.
Vasylieva Ielyzaveta—Shutterstock

Romania’s fourth largest city and capital of the Banat historical province is shining its light in 2023—quite literally—as it picks up the baton as European Capital of Culture. The first city on mainland Europe to introduce electric street lighting in 1884 is celebrating with a wealth of concerts, exhibits, and festivals under the slogan “Light up your city!” A vertical, illuminated garden by Barcelona-based MAIO Architects will grace Victory Square, where, in 1989, the sparks of the Revolution ignited against Ceausescu’s regime.

The fifth edition of the Art Encounters Biennial from May to July will feature two artistic greats at the Timisoara National Art Museum. The largest Constantin Brancusi exhibition in 50 years will showcase emblematic works of the legendary Romanian sculptor from museums around the world, while the Victor Brauner retrospective will hail the Romanian-born surrealist painter, including artwork from the Centre Pompidou. Performing-arts prowess dazzles at Timisoara 2023. A mix of jazz, multiarts festivals, literature gatherings with Nobel laureates, and eco-friendly fetes with tree-planting sessions are just some of the highlights. New media art events around historic sites like 18th century Maria Theresia Bastion or 15th century Huniade Castle add to the appeal.

Dotted with ornate Secessionist and Viennese-style architecture, in renewed splendor after sweeping restorations, Timisoara has a multiethnic fabric that is also reflected in its cuisine. The growing Italian community revels at top favorite Le Monelline, whose authentic Emilia-Romagna homemade pastas honor owner Mauro Monelli’s childhood and his nonna’s recipes. Walkable and navigable yet again following the overhaul of Bega Canal, Timisoara is committed to sustainability, introducing new electrical buses, extra charging stations, and setting up the largest forest park in the country.

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