In the period 101-103 and 105, Romans ruled by Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia in two bloody wars. Banat was called by the conquerors "DACIA RIPENSIS”.
It is thought that where Timișoara is today, or in its immediate proximity there was a military camp named ZAMBARA. Historiographer Ptolemy mentions this name in the 2nd century B.C. It is not known for sure whether it is this town or some other one, founded by the Romans, the one that later on was called TIBISCUM. Anyway, it is very possible that this latter town, called “MUNICIPALITY” in a contemporary deed, is at the origin of the present Timisoara.
During the time of the invasions of the nomad tribes from the Central-Asian plains, especially that of the Avars, on the site of the ruins of Zambara, a new settlement, called Beguey, was built.
The place where the important military fortification of ZAMBARA, called later on “BEGUEY” was built, was chosen from strategic reasons and not by mere accident, being located at the confluence of the rivers Timis and Beghei.
The first mention of the fort of Timișoara (Castrum Temesiensis) is found in the decree of King Andrew II of Hungary dating from 1212. Therefore, Timisoara was then a fortified “CASTRUM” and it is possible that it had been like that ever since its foundation.
The Turk traveller Evlie Celebi left us a description of Timisoara in 1660. Further on, you have some of the most interesting parts of his description. The fortification of Timisoara has five bowed gates with big and resistant iron doors. These gates are closed every evening and the bridge which connected the gate with the surrounding area is also raised. Celebi wrote clearly that: “The great citadel was built in 1052.”.
After the death of the last king of the Arpad dynasty (1301), kings from the French dynasty of Anjou succeed to the throne of Hungary.
Charles Robert of Anjou came to the throne in 1307 and he does not feel safe in his capital Buda, where he was threatened by his powerful enemies - the Hungarian magnates. Therefore, he orders to build the necessary buildings in Timisoara where he may transfer his seat and administration. In eight years, Italian masons built an impressive royal palace, fortifications are consolidated, and soldiers are brought in, as well as the merchants. From an insignificant, poorly town, Timisoara becomes in a very short period of time, a real city, a capital. King Charles Robert of Anjou transfers his seat to Timisoara in 1316. The castle built to be the residence of the king, formed two rectangles, with their edges oriented towards the four cardinal points, surrounded by walls and ditches, connected among them through a bridge and a powerful fortified tower.
At the end of 1317 queen Mary of Bytom, the first wife of King Charles Robert of Anjou, being interred in the new capital.
King Charles Robert of Anjou marries Beatrix of Luxembourg, the sister of Emperor Frederic VII. In 1319, Beatrix dies too and she is buried in the catholic cathedral of Oradea.
Charles's third wife, Elisabeth, the daughter of a Polish king Wladislaw spends only yje first years of his marriage in the royal palace in Timisoara. This last marriage, celebrated in Buda in 1320, the king"s prestige increases significantly and the critics made against his debauched life fade away.
Timisoara stays the capital of the country until 1325. After moving the capital to Visegrad, and later on, to Buda, the king comes two times in Timisoara: once in 1330, when he sets off the unwise expedition against Voivode Basarab of Tara Romaneasca. The expedition led to a disaster and the king himself hardly managed to save his life. And secondly and for the last time, Charles Robert comes to Timisoara on Christmas, in 1332.
After the death of King Charles Robert in 1342, the royal palace of Timisoara becomes an asset of the Crown. The kings and the princely persons, when coming to or passing through Timisoara, stay at the royal palace.
King Louis I the Great visited Timisoara two times. First time it was in 1358, when setting off an expedition against the Serbian despot Uros, and the second time, in 1368, when declares war to Vladislav I of Wallachia (Vlaicu Voda).
In 1385, the widow of Louis I of Hungary, the queen Elisabeth, together with her daughter Maria, stays longer in the royal palace of Timisoara.
King Sigismund and his wife, Maria, come to Timisoara in 1389 and stay here for two years. From here he conducts the military operations against the Serbian Voivode Stephen. In 1396, 1397, 1409, 1426, 1428, king Sigismund stays for a long period of time in Timisoara, where form he conducts the military operations against the Turks.
In the mean time, Timisoara loses the political and administrative position once the throne moved away, but, gains instead a military importance greater and greater. The citadel of Timisoara was considered one of the key elements in the resistance against the Turks.
In this period, critical for Christianity, the Romanian Iancu of Hunedoara (John Hunyadi) stands out. Due to his brave actions, Iancu of Hundeoara becomes Voivode of Transylvania, Ban of Severin, Permanent Head of Timis County, and in the period 1446-1453, governor of Hungary. This hero of the Christianity leaves from Timisoara in 1443 in his long expedition in Balkans against the Turks, where he covers in glory.
In 1443, Timisoara was stroke by a severe earthquake which led to the destruction of a part of the royal palace, some of the fortifications of the citadel and a number of other edifices.
Following the order of King Ladislav on 8th of October 1455, Iancu of Hunedoara re-entered into the possession of the Timisoara citadel and all its belongings.
On the 24th of January 1458, Matthias Corvinus of Hunedoara, the youngest son of Iancu of Hunedoara, who had died in the conflicts with the Turks, was crowned king of Hungary.
Matthias Corvinus, born in Cluj, of Romanian origin, was the greatest king of Hungary, very brave and good warrior, honest and fair as a king. King Matthias comes to Timisoara in the palace where he had spent his childhood and stays a period with his family.
On the 10th of August 1514, Timisoara came under the siege of the rebellious troops of Gheorghe Doja (György Dózsa). Toma, the archbishop of Strigoniu, urged by Pope Leon X, preaches a crusade against the Turks. Over 70,000 peasants, willing to get rid of the tyranny of the nobles, join Doja’s cause. The crusade converts into a serfs’ revolution against nobles. Doja leaves Buda, crosses Tisza at Szegedin, reaches Nadlac, Siria, Soimos, Lipova and then Timisoara, where he sets his camp on the field of Ulicia. After battles fought for more than a month, Doja’s men are eventually defeated. Doja and all his captains are captured and incarcerated, subjected to famine and terrible tortures. After 15 days, Doja was sentenced to sit on a heated iron throne with a heated iron crown on his head and a heated scepter in his hand (mocking at his ambition to be king). Thus, martyr Gheorghe Doja dies enduring awful pains and all this, because he wanted that in 1514, serfs were no longer considered cattle, but human beings.
Today, on the site of the martyrdom of the hot throne, there is the statue of Virgin Mary, in Piata Maria (Mary’s Square), and the street was named after his name – Gheorghe Doja.
After many fights with the Turks, Timisoara is conquered by the Turks, on the 26th of July 1552. Commander Losoncius surrendered the citadel provided that the troops left the citadel freely, but the Turks breached the promise and killed everyone coming out from the citadel. Thus, Timisoara and Banat fell under the long ottoman domination of 164 years.
The Turks understood the strategic importance of the Timisoara Citadel and therefore, they repair its walls and consolidate it. The castle of the citadel, that is, the former palace of Hunyadi, serves as the residence of the pasha. The water tower is suspended and the island is now called Palanca Mica – The Little Palisade and is populated again. Palanca Mare – the Great Palisade, which extended to the east of the town, now develops to the North and West. Along the marshes which served as natural fortifications and which surrounded Timisoara, the Turks make consolidations, build oak palisades and dig deep fosses around Timisoara.
In 1716, when prince Eugene of Savoy attacks Timisoara, where he encounters stiff resistance as the citadel, beside the Turks-made fortifications and the natural ones, the entire surface from the Great Palisade was a marsh flooded by the waters of Beguey. The attack was launched upon the pasha’s villegiatura house in the Great Palisade. This is followed by the synagogue in the Great Palisade, on the 29th of August. Seeing that any form is resistance is meant to fail, the Turkish army capitulates on the 12th of October 1716. The Turkish troops got out of the citadel on the 17th of October 1716, through Belgrade’s gate.
Eugene of Savoy’s entrance into the citadel, as a winner, took place on the 18th of October, his birthday (10th of October 1663, in Paris), through the gate called ever since then “Prince Eugene’s Gate”. In remembrance, Prince Eugene gave pasha a golden watch, and the pasha gave him back an Arab horse of noble race.
Pope Clement XI sends Eugene of Savoy a blessed sword, a stoat hat adorned with diamonds and precious stones.
Thus, after 164 of Turkish domination, Timisoara and Banat become Christian again. The Treaty of Passarowitz of 1718 acknowledged the loss of Banat, Oltenia and a part of Serbia by the Turks.
After driving away the Turks, Timisoara and Banat come again under imperial military ruling. The citadel of Timisoara is now ruled by Count Paul of Vallis. The province known under the name of “Timisean Banat” is not attached to Hungary, but governed as a catholic province – with an administration entirely different from that of Hungary.
Prince Eugene of Savoy recommends and the emperor appoints as governor of Timisean Banat, Mercy Claudius Florimund, cavalry general. Prince Eugene of Savoy requires firmly Mercy to receive in the Citadel of Timisoara, only Roman-catholic Germans, as only them were trustworthy.
Governor Caludius Mercy stood out as a good organizer and an exceptional administrator. Timisoara records him especially as the one who can be considered as the real founder of the modern city. His goal was to make Timisoara the most beautiful town of the Empire.
During those 12 years when he ruled, Count Mercy spared no effort to drain the marshes, building canals for Beguey, encouraged agriculture and laid foundations of a flourishing industry in a newly built quarter – Fabrica. During his ruling, there began the works at the construction of the modern fortress, and a series of public edifices, exiting even nowadays, were built in that period. Appointed commander of the troops in Italy, in 1733, Count Mercy fell on the battle ground near Parma; nevertheless, his work was continued by those who have followed.
At the end of the 18th century, Timisoara was considered one of the most beautiful and clean towns in Europe.
In 1781, Timisoara was proclaimed municipality (royal free town) based on the diploma of Josef II as of December 21st, 1781. This diploma is renewed by Emperor Leopold II, and in 1790, it is considered as one of the laws of the country.
In 1809, the treasury and the imperial thesaurus are transferred from Timisoara to Vienna so that they would not fall in the hands of Napoleon. The thesaurus is brought by the police forces of the town, an institution set up in 1808, and having to protect the town by watching the gates of the citadel around the clock.
The echo of the events which took place in Pest on the 15th of March 1848 reaches Timisoara. A popular assembly is held before the city hall, presided by the mayor, Ion Preyer. The assembly assures the Emperor of their loyalty and infinite devotion to the throne. Hungarians revolt rise in rebellion and ask the separation from Austria. On the 10th of October 1848, general Rucavina proclaims the siege of Timisoara. The Hungarian rebellious troops head for Timisoara with 6,000 men-at –arms and 300 cannons. On the 26th of April 1849, the supreme commander of the rebels, Bem, transits the towns of Urseni, Giroc, Freidorf and attacks the outposts of Timisoara, in vain anyway. The 107 days siege makes the population of Timisoara to suffer from starvation and high prices. After the battle of Sanandrei, the Hungarian army spreads away. Banat and Timisoara are again separated from Hungary, Timisoara becomes the capital of the Serbian Voivodina and Banat, founded on the basis of the imperial rescript as of 18th November 1849. Count Ion Coronini Cronberg is appointed governor; however, in 1860, Voivodina disintegrates and Banat is conceded to Hungary.
In the period 1723-1765, the citadel of Timisoara is consolidated with fortifications; the fundamental stone was laid on the 25th of April 1723.
In 1728, Count Mercy canalizes the waters of the Beguey and this gives Timisoara a new development impulse.
In 1774, attempts are made for the supplying of Timisoara with fresh water, the citadel being provided with water from the quarter Fabric, through a great capacity pipe; this aqueduct was quite an achievement back then.
The first printing house in Timisoara is opened in 1771, and this Matei Heimerl’s printing house. Many calendars were printed in this printing house.
New districts developed radially around the citadel, and the oldest one was “Maierele Romane”, founded in 1718 (Elisabetin district nowadays). In 1720, the “Fabrica” (Fabric) is founded and in 1744 the Iosefin district is founded.
Timisoara develops, the citadel and the walls become useless and starting with 1892 up until 1910, the demolition of the walls and gates of the citadel, and the districts come to be joined with the Citadel.
In 1716-1734, the old City Town was built, in Piata Libertatii (Liberty Square), also called the New City Hall and the German City Hall.
The orthodox Serbian church in Piata Unirii (Union Square) was built in the period 1744-1748, and the towers are reconstructed in the period 1791-1792.
The old Prefecture, also known as the President’s house or the Baroque palace, was built in Piata Unirii in the period 1754-1774.
The Roman-catholic Dome was built in Piata Unirii in the period 1736-1774, and has 9 altars and a beautiful organ.
The “Dicasterial” palace was erected immediately after 1849, so as to serve as headquarters of Voivodina.
These are only a few of the old buildings, exiting even in the present in Timisoara and they are a part of the beautiful architecture of the town.
In the second part of the 19th century, there was an avalanche of technical innovations revolutionizes the urban life of Timisoara:
- In 1853 – telegraphy is introduced in the town.
- In 1857 – public lighting based on gas is introduced in the town.
- In 1857, the railway network of Timisoara is connected to the European railway network;
- In 1867, it was also the second European and the first city in what is now Romania with horse drawn trams.
- In 1881, the modern telephony system is installed;
- In 1884, it was the first European city to be lit by electric street lamps;
- In 1895, streets begin to be asphalted;
- In 1899, the commissioning of the electric tram before many other large cities in Europe;
- In the period 1912-1914, the sewage system is modernized.
Timisoara was also called, the flowers’ town, parks’ town, the garden town. Timisoara developed a cult for the flowers and here there are many flower gardens famous in Balkans and all over Europe.
During World War I 1914-1918: On the 26th of July 1914, flyers announcing the general mobilization are posted on the walls of the town. During the first two years of the war, the press in Timisoara wrote very little on Romania’s position and foreshadowed that Romania was going to join Austro-Hungary in the war. However, when in 1916, Romania declares war to the Central Powers, the newspapers of Timisoara, lead a fierce campaign against all the politicians in the Kingdom (Moldavia and Walachia). On the 7th of September 1916, the siege is declared in Timisoara and Banat.
During the war, most of the schools served as military hospitals. In the autumn of 1918, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian front produces considerable disorder and uprisings. On the 26th of October, the rebels destroy the statue of general Anton Scudier, the monument of Coronini, a former Austrian general and on the 27th of October, desecrate the victory monument in front of the city hall.
On the 28th of July 1919, Timisoara falls under Romanian domination.
Sunday, on the 3rd of August 1919, at 8 o’clock in the morning, the Romanian troops enter in Timisoara, under the command of colonel Economu. At the customs office of the town, the troops are welcomed by a lot of people, wearing festivity outfits and led by the prefect Dr. Aurel Cosma, who, touched by the importance of the historical event, blesses all those present there to repair a historical injustice. On the 10th of August 1919, the popular assembly of all the inhabitants of Banat takes place in Timisoara, and over 40,000 participants in this assembly vote for the union of Banat with Romania.