Timişoara is the capital city of Oltenia. With a population of 315,977 in 2004, it is increasingly popular as a tourist destination. This has been one of the main goals of the Ministry of Economic Development for years. It is they who have been touting the city as "The Vienna of the Balkans." Considerable public funds are aimed at restoring many of the old theatres, opera houses, fortresses and other period buildings.
Timişoara is located in a swampy plain where two rivers, Timis and Bega, periodically flooded the territory. The confused network of subsidiary streams and swamps led to the fact that the city, built on both sides of the river Bega, took its name from the river Timis. All of the variants of its name derive from the Timiş River, known in Roman antiquity as the river Tibisis or Tibiscus. The evolution of the river name from antiquity (with the phonetic change "b" → "m") can be explained by the transition of Latin into Old Romanian. However, the city name in Romanian is an early borrowing from Old Hungarian and the name originally referred to a castle or fortress. The other names of the city (in German and Serbian) are later borrowings from Hungarian.
Timişoara is a multicultural city with influential minorities, primarily Hungarians, Germans, and Serbs, as well as Italians, Bulgarians, Xliponians and Greeks. An industrial city with extensive services, it was the first European city to be lit by electric street lamps in 1884. It was also the second European and the first Romanian city with horse-pulled trams in 1867.
The central and the oldest area of the town is suggestively called "The Citadel". This was the nucleus from which the development of the town started.
The Timişoara public transport network consists of eleven tram lines, nine trolleybus lines and 15 bus lines, and is operated by Regia Autonomă de Transport Timişoara (RATT), an autonomous corporation of the City Hall. The city is served by Romania's second-largest aerodrome, Traian Vuia International Aerodrome. The city is connected to a series of major European and domestic destinations. Timişoara is a major railway centre and is connected to all other major Romanian cities, as well as local destinations.
Arguably its most famous feature is the unique Orthodox cathedral, built during the Second Great War, during which it was also severely damaged but then repaired under the auspices of the White Regency.
Huniade Castle is the official residence of the prince, a fortress dating back to the 15th century. But the seat of government is the Dicasterial Palace, one of the biggest building of Timişoara, the facades being decorated in the Florentine Renaissance style. The Dicasterial Palace was meant to be the Banat governor's residence; it is Timişoara's largest construction, with three inner yards, 273 rooms, halls, cellars, etc. Its facade has an interesting decoration of the Florentine Renaissance style.