Crisana & Banat
The areas of Crisana (north of the Mures River) and Banat (to the south) in western Romania have a lively, spiritual autonomy found nowhere else in Romania. They are the most “European” part of the country, as is demonstrated by their ethnic diversity, tangible Habsburg influence, cutting edge restaurants, clubs and forward-looking society.
Oradea, Arad and Timisoara are the largest and most arresting locales here. They were once large military fortresses on the south-eastern extent of the Austria-Hungary empire, with influences coming from Yugoslavia’s Vojvodina and Hungary’s Great Plain, which can still be felt to this day.
Crisana and Banat were dealt to Romania at the conclusion of WWI. They still seem to have more in common with Subotica (Serbia) and Szeged (Hungary) than to the rest of Romania.
Stylish Timisoara was where the seeds of the 1989 revolution first bloomed in the form of public demonstrations and violence. This esteemed notoriety has left these charming and proud people with a scarcely concealed perma-grin.
Outside of its three star cities, these regions are also sprinkled with tempting offerings like the Apuseni Mountains, ski runs, deep caves, gorges, waterfalls and curative thermal waters. Zigzag from giddying excitement to recuperative leisure all within a few hours drive.
My Top Five for Crisana and Banat are:
• Stewing in the thermal waters of Baile Herculane’s Roman baths
• Marveling at the ancient stalactites and stalagmites in the Bear Cave and the Scarisoara Ice Cave
• Checking out a candle-lit service in Timisoara’s Metropolitan Cathedral
• Skiing, hiking, cycling or gazing stupidly at the western Apuseni Mountains
• Indulging in a lazy day of urban pleasures in Timisoara like the outdoor pools, the opera and finally a nightcap at a bar in a Piata Victoriei