History

Târgu Mureş (Marosvásárhely in Hungarian, Neumarkt in German) was first documented as a market town, ‘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 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 (now known as 'Black March') between Hungarian students, demonstrating for a Hungarian-language faculty, and Romanians who raided the local Hungarian political party offices. Both sides had casualties. 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 by rumours that Romanian peasants were being bussed in from outlying villages to fortify Romanian protesters.

Wounds haven't healed, though demonstrations in the 2000s have largely been orderly. Demonstrations in Târgu Mureş calling for Székely autonomy are usually timed for 10 March, so-called 'Székely Freedom Day'. In 2014, an estimated 10,000 demonstrators gathered in Târgu Mureş.