Timișoara is the capital city of Timiș County, and the main social, economic and cultural centre in western Romania. One of the largest Romanian cities (the third most populous city in the country, as of 2011 census), with a population of 319,279 inhabitants, Timișoara is considered the informal capital city of the historical region of Banat. The city is a candidate to become, in 2021, the European Capital of Culture. The first record of the city of Timisoara, built on the site of an ancient Roman fortress called Castrum Regium Themes, dates back to 1212. Over the years, Timisoara, the largest city in western Romania, has been influenced by many cultures. The Romans used it as an important crossroads fortress until the Tatars destroyed it in the 13th century. Conquered by Turkish armies in 1552, Timisoara remained under their protection until 1718 when the region of Banat came under Austrian rule for two centuries. Timisoara later became a vital commercial and manufacturing town. Turks, Austrians, Germans and Serbs all left their mark and their influence can be seen in neighborhoods throughout the city even today.
The charm of this city, settled on the northern bank of the Bega River, lies in its distinct architectural character and vibrant cultural life. Frequently referred to as "Little Vienna," Timisoara is home to year-round musical and theatrical performances, art galleries, museums and a buzzing nightlife. 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. Thanks to its mild climate, Timisoara has lots of public squares and lush green retreats. The city is easy to explore on foot. If you get tired, a tram will be along in a moment; the system is fast, frequent and efficient. Timisoara abounds with churches of several denominations, a Jewish quarter, an elegant baroque square and a pedestrian-only downtown area. Some of the monuments in the heart of the city afford panoramic views, while the many parks in this "city of flowers" provide an idyllic spot to take a break from sightseeing.