Everybody knows that Romanians are welcoming and warm people. But they are also passionate people. While the Romanians have adopted Valentine’s Day in recent years, we also have our own “celebration” of love – and it’s called Dragobete.

The Romanian celebration of love

In Romania, the holiday of Dragobete is traditionally celebrated on February 24th. In addition to a celebration of love, it is also a celebration of the spring to come. But before we tell you about how it is celebrated, we need to understand the story behind it. In order to do that, we need to look into Romanian folklore and mythology.

The legend of Dragobete

The story starts with a young girl named Dochia. Legend has it that Dochia was one of the most beautiful and pure women in our lands. Dochia’s beauty and purity attracted not only the attention of mortals but also of the gods. The god of the mountains was one of those enchanted by the girl’s beauty and purity.

One sunny day, Dochia was tired and sat to rest in the shade, at the edge of a forest, falling asleep. The god of the mountains, who had fallen in love with the girl, then found the perfect opportunity to get close to Dochia. He turned to mist and descended the mountains to where the girl was sleeping, leaving her pregnant.

Nine months later, Dochia gave birth to a son, Dragobete. At birth, he had four fairy godmothers: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The four were so happy that Dragobete was born, that each one gave him a unique gift:

Spring –  Gave him love, the freshness of flowers and eternal youth.

Summer – Gave him the sweetness of fruits and the warmth of love.

Autumn – Gave him a flute to sing to people and delight them.

Winter –  Gave him the most beautiful white clothes, that shined like diamonds.

All these gifts, generously given to him by the four seasons, helped him seduce all the unmarried women he met in his travels – because Dragobete would travel all across our lands. And this is the reason for which he became a symbol of love.  

The legend claims that every year, on the night of February 23rd, Dragobete showed up in the dreams of unmarried boys and taught them everything they needed to know in order to win the heart of their beloved ones.

After hundreds of years of showing people how to love and live in good fortune, Dragobete died and transformed himself in a “navalnic” – a plant which is found until this day in Romanian forests.

 

Dragobete celebrations

Even though Dragobete has lost some popularity in the face of the very popular Valentine’s day, it is still celebrated in some areas in Romania.

Traditionally, on the day of Dragobete, early in the morning, unmarried boys will put their traditional festive clothes on and go to the forest. Here, they will gather flowers, the first flowers of spring, for the girl of their dreams.

At midday, the village girls will run to the center of their village and wait for the boys to come back. When the boys return to the village, they have to run and catch the girl with whom they had fallen in love. If a girl would share the boy’s feelings, she would let herself get caught and receive the flowers picked up by the boy.

It is believed that the ones who participate in this celebration are blessed with well-being and health all year round.

 

All the photos from this article, for which we are very grateful, have been provided by www.nuntatraditionala.ro.  

 

According to Adevarul.ro, which is a national newspaper, starting this spring, Timisoara will have its own free public “libraries” in parks. These “libraries” will consist of bookcases and an initial collection of about 200 books. The collection is expected to grow with the help of the public.

The idea behind this project is simple: borrow a book, take it back after you read it. If you want to keep it, just put back another book.

The project is a private initiative that was inspired by the idea of book-crossing, which already exists in various European cities.  Although probably at first there won’t be many foreign-language (English) books available, we’re sure these will appear eventually, as the locals will adopt this new project.

The outdoor bookcase concept, also known as “free open-air libraries”, was first implemented in 1991 in Germany and later adopted by other European countries like Austria, the U.K., Switzerland, and others.

Who knows, maybe next time you visit Timisoara you’ll find something interesting to read.

Later update:

5 outdoor bookcases have already been placed in the parks around Timisoara. They have the shape of a small house and are actually called “casuta de lectura” (rough translation: “little house with books”)

Where exactly can you find them?! See the address and the exact place of each one in the Timisoara Map section of our website.

Carmen Silva Park

Carmen Silva Open Library TImisoara Tourism

Botanical Park

Open Library Botanical Park Timisoara Tourism

Alpinet Park

 

Rozelor Park

 

Justitiei (Justice) Park

 

Unirii Square (to be translated as the “Union Square”) is one of the biggest and most beautiful squares in Timisoara. Throughout its history, the square has had many names: it was once called Hauptplatz (main square), Domplatz (Dom square) or Losonczy square.Today we know it as Unirii Square. It received this name in 1919, after World War I and after the Banat region became a part of the now “complete” Romanian country. The square is said to be the place where the Romanian army stopped when they came to Timisoara.

The history of Unirii square, the most beautiful square in Timisoara

But the history of the square is much longer. Timisoara was freed from the Ottoman Empire in 1716, thanks to the troops of Prince Eugene of Savoy, of the Habsburg Empire. During the fight with the Ottomans, most of the city was destroyed. As the city had to be rebuilt, a new construction plan was created. What we know as Unirii Square today started being shaped back then. The buildings in the area were meant to serve administrative functions and the square itself has served as an agricultural market for a very long time. Most of the buildings in the square have been restored and reshaped several times; some building were added an extra floor, other were demolished, new ones were rebuilt. Over time, Unirii Square became the most beautiful square in Timisoara. These are some if its most imposing buildings:

St. George’s Cathedral, or the Roman-Catholic Dome

The Catholic Dome in Unirii Square was built around the same time as the square itself, after the plans of Fischer von Erlach, an Austrian architect who also worked on monuments from Vienna, Prague, Gratz,  and Salzburg. The towers of the dome have a height of only 35.5m, which is quite unusual for catholic domes. But there is a reason behind it.  Back in the 18th century, Timisoara became a military strategic point, but was still a potential target. Higher towers would have been visible from outside of the city citadel, therefore making it a target. By projecting the towers at this height, it was “hid” from potential attackers.

The Holy Trinity Monument – A sign of thankfulness for the ending of the plague

Between the 14th and 18th century the plague killed millions of people in Europe. Timisoara was no exception. The Holy Trinity monument was ordered and then donated to Timisoara by Dechan de Hansen, who was a counsellor at the city hall at the time.  The monument was constructed in Vienna and transported to Timisoara by boat on the Danube, the Tisa and the Bega River, to the old town port. The story has it that the plague killed the counsellor’s wife and daughter and he swore that if he survives he will build a monument as a sign of thankfulness. He kept his word and the monument exists even today.

The Serbian-Orthodox Episcopal Palace

Timisoara has always been multicultural and communities have always lived together in harmony here. In Unirii Square you can find two churches belonging to different religions in the same area. The Serbian-Orthodox Episcopal Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings here. It was built around 1745, and as the years passed it was renovated once in 1905 by the great head-architect Lazlo Szekely, who added baroque elements and later in 2013.

Bruck House – Beautiful secession architecture

The present building was built in the early 1900s in the style of the Hungarian “Secession” current. It was ordered by the pharmacist Salomon Bruck. A pharmacy exists there even today.  On the windows you can also see the word “pharmacy” written in the three languages spoken in the city at the time: Romanian, German and Hungarian.

What is your favourite building in Unirii Square?

When to visit Timisoara and what to pack? This is a question every traveler has when visiting a new city. And in this article, you will find out what the best time to visit Timisoara is – and how to pack according to the weather in Timisoara!

 

Best time to visit Timisoara, Romania

Romania has a temperate-continental climate, with some sub-sub-Mediterranean influences.  This means that Romania has four seasons and the temperature varies quite a lot according to the season. The temperature also varies a bit according to the region in Romania you are in. And of course, the temperature is going to go down if you go to the mountain area, whereas in flat areas, like where Timisoara is located, the temperature will be a bit higher.

Timisoara is one of the biggest cities in Romania and it is located in the Western part of the country.  This means that the temperature usually is a bit different from that in the capital, Bucharest – which is located in the east side of the country.

Romanian summers can be quite hot, especially in big cities like Timisoara, and winters can be quite cool and windy. The best time to visit Timisoara is during spring, starting from mid-March until mid-June, and in autumn from September to late November.

The weather in Timisoara

From our experience, Meteoblue is a very reliable weather forecast website. Below you can find their 7-day forecast, so that you can pack and plan accordingly:

Spring in Timisoara:

During spring (March-May), the temperature is just perfect for walking in the city.  The temperature in Timisoara during these months varies from 12°C (in March, early April) to 26°C (in late May, early June). These are of course the average temperatures and they can vary from year to year. Spring is a “transitioning” season, so the temperature can also vary during the day – it is usually warmest at noon and the temperature drops during the night.

Summer in Timisoara:

Due to the climate, geography (in the Western plains of Romania) and the city environment, the average temperature during summer (June-August) is 28°C.  But don’t let these average temperatures fool you, as recent summers in Timisoara have been quite hot, with the maximum temperature going well over 30°C and up to 40°C.

During summer, it may sometimes rain in the afternoon, but these are mostly showers, which pass quickly.

Since summers are hot in the city, the best way to avoid these temperatures is to go to the countryside or to the nearby hills and mountains. There are many interesting destinations just a short drive away from Timisoara.

See some example of daytrips which you can do.

Autumn in Timisoara:

If you love colors and warm weather, then autumn is for you. Autumn offers some gorgeous views, especially if you want to visit natural attractions in the areas surrounding Timisoara. The average temperature in Timisoara during autumn is 17°C, but it can vary with about 6°C:  from 24°C in September, to 10°C in November.

Winter in Timisoara:

In the Western part of Romania, where Timisoara is located, winters (December-February) are quite mild. It is usually not too cold and you won’t find much snow – with some exceptions, from time to time. For example, the winter of 2018-2019 brought a big amount of snow, confusing locals and tourists alike.

The average temperature in January is around  -1.1°C.  However, in a particularly cold year, it can even drop below -10°C – though this usually does not last for many days in a row. In case you are visiting during winter, pack a warm jacket and some mittens, just in case.