The best way to introduce Targu Mures in Romania is to share with you the information we sent to a guidebook following our visit a few years ago.
Hotel Continental offered double rooms with en suite facilities but no breakfast (breakfast was 5 euros extra per person) for 36 euros a night. Because the hotel is so centrally located, this was a good price. We opted against breakfast to visit a wonderful cafe and bakery on Str. Calarasilor where coffee and cakes for two came to only 3 euros.
Kebab, Str. Bolyai 40, is exactly as you describe it in the “Eating” section, a very good, no-fuss restaurant where you can select food from the different trays displayed attractively in the sunken part of the premises. At lunch there are menus for about 3 euros. Emma Vendegco, which you also mention, does an all day 2.5 euros menu (the food here is Hungarian). Emma Vendegco closes earlier than Kebab, at about 8.00pm. Because the food is so cheap at Emma Vendegco’s, we ordered a bottle of red wine for 7 euros, a good price for a restaurant in Romania.
As far as we can tell, Targu Mures’ best restaurant is Laci Csarda on Str. Morii where Romanian beers cost about 1.25 euros, soups cost 1.50 to 2 euros, cold starters with cheese and meat (sufficient for two people to share) cost 4 to 6 euros and mains cost 3 to 6 euros. Excellent desserts (e.g. vargabeles) cost 1.50 to 3 euros. Eat outside, on a veranda or indoors. There is a great atmosphere and people drop in at all hours. Laci Csarda is especially popular with local Hungarians and Hungarians who have crossed the border from neighbouring Hungary.
If looking for a quiet, up-market place for coffee, beer or cocktails some way from the madding crowd and known at present only to local people, try Caffe Artemis, Piata Marasesti 19, a few blocks north-west of the Citadel. Romanian beers cost about 1.50 euros and cocktails about 3.50 euros. Sit in the garden or the delightful rooms decorated with attractive paintings and ornaments.
You are correct: the Culture Palace is one of the most remarkable buildings anywhere. The entrance fee is under 2 euros and you can take photos to your heart’s content, even with a flash. An increasing number of rooms are opening as restoration continues apace, so, when your next guide is published, we are confident visitors will be able to see even more of this extraordinary building and its stunning decoration than at present. Allow a half day to fully appreciate what is currently accessible. By 2011 visitors will probably need a whole day. This is one of Europe’s most astounding buildings in the jugenstil/secessionist/art nouveau style. It is worth investing in the well-illustrated guide. The current price for the guide? 4 euros.
We are glad you comment on the spectacular synagogue. However, why not add to the description that the Jewish Cemetery is hidden away in an interesting residential district. The cemetery’s entrance is up a flight of concrete steps beside house number 10 on Str. Verii (Str. Verii begins two or three blocks east of the Citadel). A gate confronts you at the foot of the steps, but it is unlocked during the day. Restoration is currently taking place in the cemetery, but the builders and the stonemasons welcome visitors. It is a very beautiful cemetery. As well as many elaborate tombs from the early 20th century, some stonework has dates of burial to the present day.
On the theme of Jewish Targu Mures, it is worth noting that a holocaust memorial stands in the small triangle of park between strs. Morii and Caralasilor.
If paying a visit to the Jewish Cemetery, walk along Str. Gabor Aron to enter the back of the equally attractive Roman Catholic Cemetery which drops down the hill toward the Citadel. The Orthodox Cemetery lies next to the Roman Catholic Cemetery and also provides delightful views.
Just off the city’s main square, some excellent cafes and shops sell very good ice cream for 0.25 euros a scoop. Prices in Sighisoara’s main square rise in some instances to 2 euros a scoop, so fill up on ice cream in Targu Mures instead. The ice cream in Targu Mures is exactly the same make and quality as the ice cream in Sighisoara.
A few trains go daily from Targu Mures to Brasov, but they take eight hours to complete the journey. This means that most people use the maxi-taxis instead, which now leave from a bus depot on Str. Bega south-west of the main bus station. The reckless Formula One drivers of the maxi-taxis get you to Brasov in under three hours for 6 euros. It is not a journey for the faint-hearted.
Targu Mures provides an excellent contrast with touristy Sighisoara and equally touristy Brasov. Most visitors to Targu Mures are Romanian or Hungarian nationals. The side streets leading from Piata Trandafirilor contain lots of interesting buildings, but many currently look neglected and require some urgent tender loving care. In common with Timisoara, Targu Mures is a place where you can live inexpensively without compromising on quality. The railway station is fun as well, although some station employees may make half-hearted attempts to stop you taking photos with the somewhat dubious suggestion that permits are required. Oh yes: there are a few Jehovah’s Witnesses in the city. It would seem that the faith is slowly growing in strength, not least among the Roma who have known little but discrimination and/or ostracism from the more mainstream churches.
Not much information exists about the Jewish community of Targu Mures in either books or on the internet. However, I did find some information on two websites after typing into my search engine “The Jewish community in Targu Mures”. I have combined the most pertinent information into a single paragraph below:
Jewish families had settled along the River Mures by the beginning of the 18th century and, by the late 19th century, the Jewish community in Targu Mures had become the largest such community in Transylvania after the community in Alba Iulia. In Targu Mures today, the community comprises of about two hundred well-respected people. Previously, there were many more Jewish people. By 1940, almost six thousand people identified themselves as Jewish, but by early 1944 the community had shrunk to just over two thousand. Between May and June 1944, almost eight thousand Jews were deported to Auschwitz from Targu Mures and the surrounding area, and almost six thousand of them never returned home. After the war many of the survivors migrated to Israel. In the 2006 census, only 219 people in Targu Mures were identified as Jewish.