The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in Romania the western part in Serbia, and a small northern part in Hungary . It's populated by Romanians, Serbs, Hungarians, Roma, Germans, Krashovans, Slovaks, Bulgarians, Czechs and by many other in smaller number. People who live in Banat are called Banatians.
The Banat is a part of the Pannonian plain bordered by the River Danube to the south, the River Tisza (Theiss, Tissa, Tisa) to the west, the River Mureş to the north, and the Southern Carpathian Mountains to the east. Its historical capital was Timişoara, now in Timiş county in Romania.
The Romanian Banat is mountainous in the south and southeast, while in the north, west and south-west it is flat and in some places marshy. The climate, except in the marshy parts, is generally healthy. Wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, flax, hemp and tobacco are grown in large quantities, and the products of the vineyards are of a good quality. Game is plentiful and the rivers swarm with fish. The mineral wealth is great, including copper, tin, lead, zinc, iron and especially coal. Amongst its numerous mineral springs, the most important are those of Mehadia, with sulphurous waters, which were already known in the Roman period as the Termae Herculis (Băile Herculane). The present "Banat Region" of Romania includes some areas that are mountainous and were not part of the historical Banat or of the Pannonian plain.
The most representative city for Banat is Timisoara the capital city of Timis county and the ancient capital city of Bucovina.
The charm of this city lies in its architectural character and exciting cultural life. Known as "Little Vienna," because of the abundance of Secessionist architecture ,Timisoara is the perfect host of musical and theatrical performances, art galleries, museums and a buzzing nightlife. The city is also known as “city of flowers” for his many parks which provide an idyllic spot to take a break from sightseeing .A progressive, cosmopolitan place, Timisoara was the first city in Europe and second in the world after New York, to use electricity to illuminate its public streets.
Timisoara`s tourist attractions
Some of the city's most interesting sites are its elegant baroque buildings, spread around town and particularly along the main square, Piata Victoriei, which stretches from Opera Square to Loga Boulevard.
The focal point is the towering Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral at the south side of the square. Built between 1936 and 1946, its green and red roof tiles are arranged in a mosaic design. In front of the Cathedral is a memorial to those who lost their lives during the 1989 Revolution which overthrew Communist rule. Across the town centre is the picturesque Habsburg-era Piata Unirii, so-named for the imposing sight of the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals facing each other. Historic pastel-hued buildings line the square. During the 18th century, this was the city's commercial centre and the venue for numerous military processions and religious ceremonies.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral on the east side of the square was built between 1736 and 1754 to the design of Fisher von Erlach and represents a fine example of Viennese baroque style. The main altar painting was completed by Michael Angelo Unterberger, director of the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna.
The impressive 18th century Baroque Palace (Palatul Vechii Prefecturi) dominates the square's south side. Formerly the governor's residence, it now houses the Museum of Fine Arts with works by German, Flemish and Italian artists.
At the northwest corner of Piata Unirii stands the spectacular Scont Bank (Banca de Scont). This typical Hungarian-style art nouveau structure, built in the early 20th century, features an organic shape comprising curved walls studded with turquoise tiles forming patterns drawn from folklore, and extravagant iron gutters and window grills.
A journey through Timisoara
Another remarkable open space in the city is Piata Libertatii which offers a great display of Secessionist architecture. The Banat region was under Turkish rule from 1552 until 1716 when the Austrian-Habsburg Prince Eugene de Savoy took over Timisoara. At this time, a seven-star- shaped bastion and gate-towers were constructed and the marshes surrounding the town were drained by the new Habsburg governor, General Mercy.
Continue along Str. Lucian Blaga to the 14th century Huniade Castle (Castelui Huniade). Built during the rule of Carol Robert, Prince de Anjou, it was completed by Iancu of Hundeoara and redesigned by the Habsburgs in the 18th century.
South and east of the Bega Canal are the Josefin, Elisabetin and Fabric residential districts, true gems of Jugendstil, or art nouveau, architecture, built mainly in the late 19th century. The small residential square of Piata Plevnei, south of the Bega Canal, is bordered by excellent examples of the first phase of Secessionist architecture, such as Gemeinhardt's Peacock House (Casa cu Pauni) built in 1905. Facades are covered with an abundance of typical motifs: peacocks, swans, owls and squirrels together with sinuous vines and foliage. The theme continues on the buildings lining Splaiul Tudor Vladimirescu, following the south bank of the Bega, and to a lesser extent, around nearby Piata Maria and Bulevardul 16 Decembrie 1989.