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Introducing Târgu Mureş

Lively Târgu Mureş, with its nearly even Hungarian and Romanian populations, as well as a sizeable Roma population, offers a different slice of Transylvania past and present. Buildings in its centre sport a more colourful, even flamboyant, Habsburg spirit, with tiled rooftops of government buildings jutting over heroic statues and floral paint jobs.

Târgu Mureş (Marosvásárhely in Hungarian, Neumarkt in German) was first documented as ‘Novum Forum Sicolorum’ in 1322. It developed as a leading garrison town and later as an important cultural and academic centre. In 1658 it was attacked by Turks, who captured 3000 inhabitants and transported them back to Istanbul as slave labour.

During the Ceauşescu regime, Târgu Mureş was a ‘closed city’, with all ethnic groups other than Romanians forbidden to settle here, in an effort to dilute the Hungarian community.

In 1990 Târgu Mureş was the scene of bloody clashes between Hungarian students, demonstrating for a Hungarian-language faculty in their university, and Romanians who raided the local Hungarian political party offices. The Romanian mob attempted to gouge out the eyes of playwright András Sütő, who remained blind in one eye until his death in 2006. According to Human Rights Watch World Report for 1990, the violence was stirred up by rumours that armed Romanian peasants were being bussed in from outlying villages to fortify Romanian protesters.

Today Hungarian seems to be undergoing a renaissance in Târgu Mureş, with many local songs in Hungarian only or in both languages. Carnival comes on the last weekend in June, when the city hosts its Târgu Mureş Days. Felsziget Festival is a big five-day rock/DJ festival at the end of July.

To make the 15-minute walk into town from the train station, walk 1km straight up to Piaţas Victoriei, Unirii and Trandafirilor, the main thoroughfare where most hotels and travel agencies are. From the bus station, turn right along Str Gheorghe Doja and follow the street north 1.75km to Piaţa Trandafirilor.

The tourist information office offers free maps of the city.