I have strong ties to Târgu Mures. My in-laws resided in this beautiful medieval town in Transylvania, so while I lived in Romania I visited Târgu Mures countless times and explored not only its main attractions, but also many of the off the beaten path places around the city.
Table of Contents
- A Brief History of Târgu Mures
- TOP THINGS TO DO IN TÂRGU MURES ROMANIA
- 1. Admire the city’s varied architecture
- 2. The Prefecture Building (the Old Town Hall)
- 3. Visit the Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii)
- 4. Step inside the Big Orthodox Cathedral
- 5. St. John’s Baptist Church (the Roman Catholic Church)
- 6. The Annunciation Cathedral (the Greek Catholic Church)
- 7. Visit the Medieval Fortress
- 8. Stroll through the Reformed Protestant Cemetery
A Brief History of Târgu Mures
Until the 1960s Târgu Mures (Marosvásárhely in Hungarian) was the largest urban Hungarian community in Romania. But during Ceausescu’s regime it became a “closed city”, where ALL ethnic groups other than Romanians were forbidden to settle. The regime did that in an effort to dilute the Hungarian population.
Although today the Hungarians are only 48% of the total population, the city is officially bilingual and both Romanian and Hungarian languages are used in public. Târgu Mures is an important cultural and educational center that gets the best of both cultures.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN TÂRGU MURES ROMANIA
Like its sister towns Sibiu and Sighisoara, Târgu Mures is one of Europe’s most charming cities that still maintains its unique medieval character. So if you are looking to visit it, here are some of the best things to do in Târgu Mures.
1. Admire the city’s varied architecture
One of the nicest things to do in Târgu Mures is stroll through the city center and the streets around it. Here you can enjoy the various architectural styles of the buildings, most of which are from the Art Nouveau period.
That was a time when Transylvania tried to mirror the architecture in other European countries like Germany, France, or Latvia. By merging different architectural styles with the local influences, they created an independent, national art.
The old residential areas around the city center are also worth exploring. Here you’ll see buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, with tall wooden gates.
In this area you’ll also come across other important buildings in town. Like the Teleki Library, founded at the end of the 18th century by Sámuel Teleki, chancellor of Transylvania. Or the Palffy House (built around 1640) which is today home to the Music School of the University of Theatrical Arts (Address: Str. Bolyai 12).
Another beautiful building you’ll see in this part of town is the Kendeffy House, which houses the Courthouse of Târgu Mures today.
2. The Prefecture Building (the Old Town Hall)
One of the most beautiful structures in Târgu Mures is the Prefecture Building along the main street, dating back to1906. This construction replaced the old Town Hall, which was not fire safe. The building is remarkable for its 192 feet high spire, which was originally a watchtower over the city.
In the first years the building functioned as the Town Hall, but nowadays it serves as the headquarters of the County Prefecture.
3. Visit the Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii)
The city’s most famous building (known in Romanian as Palatul Culturii) stands at Strada George Enescu 2, close to Piata Trandafirilor (“square of roses”). The Palace of Culture is equally beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.
Built between 1911 and 1913, the Palace of Culture combines a Viennese Secessionist style with local folk art intended to emphasize the predominant culture in this eastern part of Transylvania.
One of the most striking features of the Palace is the shimmering tiled roof. This was made from a special enamel from Pecs, Hungary, which was very popular at the time. Many of the cultural venues in Budapest have the same kind of tiled roofs.
As you step inside, a world of beauty opens before your eyes: stained glass windows and painted walls and ceilings, and a grand Italian marble staircase. This is one of the most unique places to visit in Romania!
One of the rooms that will leave you in awe is the enchanting Hall of Mirrors (open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am-4pm), named for the Venetian mirrors at each end of it. The hall was once used for balls and fancy receptions.
On the ground floor of the Palace there is a Great Hall where the local symphony holds concerts. The hall is beautifully decorated with mahogany woodwork and masonry touched up with real gold dust.
The Palace also houses a smaller concert hall with beautiful stained glass, a museum of contemporary art and an archeology and history museum.
4. Step inside the Big Orthodox Cathedral
Like most European cities, Târgu Mures is not short of beautiful churches and cathedrals. Some are newer and some are older, but many of them are wort visiting.
At the northern end of the city is the Big Orthodox Cathedral, built at the beginning of the 20th century, shortly after Transylvania became part of Romania.
The cathedral is quite monumental, with a huge central nave whose walls are decorated with the Orthodox saints.
The front of the church is dominated by the statue of Avram Iancu, an important Romanian figure who argued for the Romanians’ rights within Transylvania during the 1948 revolution in Romania.
5. St. John’s Baptist Church (the Roman Catholic Church)
With its imposing towers and striking façade, the Roman Catholic Church is visible from afar. The church stands to the left to the Orthodox Cathedral, in the center of the city, in Piata Trandafirilor (‘square of roses’).
The inside of the church is quit luxurious, with liturgical objects that are true works of art.
The main altar, made in 1755 by Anton Schuchbauer, is supported by monumental columns.
6. The Annunciation Cathedral (the Greek Catholic Church)
Another beautiful church worth visiting is the Annunciation Cathedral, also known as the Small Cathedral. The church is not exactly small, unless compared to the Big Orthodox Cathedral at the opposite side of town.
The church which was designed in the first half of the 20th century in the style of St. Peter Basilica in Rome, was initially a Greek Catholic congregation. However, during the communist regime Greek Catholicism was banned, so the Greek Orthodox took over the church.
7. Visit the Medieval Fortress
One of the main attractions in Târgu Mures is the Old Medieval Fortress, dating back to the 15th century. The thick walls and tall bastions of the fortress extend very close to the main square in the city center (Piata Trandafirilor).
The impressive stone walls surround now a park . There is no admission fee for visiting the actual fortress. However, inside the walls there is a small history museum for which you need to buy a ticket.
Also within the fortress you’ll see a beautiful chapel, which is the oldest church in Târgu Mures.
8. Stroll through the Reformed Protestant Cemetery
There are also some old and beautiful cemeteries in Târgu Mures that are worth visiting, like the Jewish, the Roman Catholic and the Reformed (Protestant) Cemetery.
Visiting old cemeteries may not be on your list of things to do in Târgu Mures, but this one is truly beautiful and relaxing. It also rests on a high hill which offers very beautiful views of the city.
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