In addition to being energetic and beautiful, Târgu Mures is flashing bright on tourism radars as Wizz Air has begun sickeningly cheap flights here from Budapest, making it an instantaneous budget traveler hub city. The city has nearly even Hungarian and Romanian populations, with a sizable Roma population, giving the area a unique air, even by Hungarian speaking Romania standards. The city center has maintained its colorful Habsburg architecture better than most, with tiled rooftops and interior floral paint-jobs.
The Palace of Culture, in Piata Trandafirilor, is the city’s main landmark and the number one site of tourist interest, housing several museums, including the Hall of Mirrors. There’s also the Citadel: the huge stone walls and seven towers super-charge the approach, but lead to a ho-hum letdown on the inside.
Târgu Mures has had its fair share of tension between ethnic Hungarians and Romanians; it was even totally closed to Hungarians during Ceausescu’s time (he wasn’t a fan, obviously) in an effort to reduce the Hungarian presence. In 1990 Târgu Mures was the scene of violent protests between Hungarian students and Romanians. The root of the protest was a push for a Hungarian language faculty in the university. Things spiraled out of control and Romanians raided the local Hungarian political party offices and later attempted to gouge out the eyes of playwright Andràs Süto, who suffered permanent blindness in one eye. The ethnic violence was allegedly stirred up by “Vatra”, a nationalist political group. Romanian peasants were lured from outlying villages with the promise of payment if they attacked the Hungarians with pitchforks and axes. In a typical political move, back-pedaling officials later blamed everything on the local Roma, who were nowhere to be seen during the violence.
Hungarian has been experiencing a renaissance in the Târgu Mures recently and is still widely used as a native language for people in the area.