Târgu Mureş is the seat of Mureș County in the north-central part of Romania. Geographically, it is distant 346 km from Bucharest , 480 km from Belgrade, 515 km from Budapest and 598 km from Sofia. Located on the Mureş River valley, the city is considered the informal capital of the historical province of Székely Land.
The city spreads out from Fortress Church in the center of the town, built in the 14th century, to form an area of 49.3 square kilometres. As of January 1, 2009 the city had a population of 145,151 inhabitants, making it the 16th largest city in Romania.
The current name Târgu Mureş, whose historical form was Oşorhei, is the equivalent of Marosvásárhely as Romanian 'târg' means 'market' and Hungarian 'vásárhely' means 'marketplace'. Alternate Romanian spellings of its name are Târgu-Mureş,Tîrgu Mureş and Tîrgu-Mureş.
The city is located at the centre of Transylvania and covers an area of 49.3 square kilometres (19.0 sq mi). It lies at the junction of three geographical regions of Transylvania (Transylvanian Plain, Mureş Valley and Niraj Valley) at 330 meters above sea level. The city extends onto both banks of the Mureş river, however, the downtown area and the greater part of the districts are located on the left bank. The Corneşti-plateau ( Hungarian: Somos-plateau) is the city's highest point (465m above sea level).
The city is surrounded by the following communes: Sângeorgiu de Mureş, Livezeni, Sântana de Mureş, Sâncraiu de Mureş, (Corunca), Cristeşti, Ceuaşu de Câmpie. Two villages Mureşeni (Meggyesfalva) and Remetea (Remeteszeg) are administered by the city.
Distances between the city and some of the major cities in Romania:
- Bucharest: by rail 448 km, by road 346 km
- Braşov by rail 282 km, by road 171 km
- Cluj-Napoca 127 km by rail, by road 105 km
- Sibiu by rail 189 km, by road 124 km
The city was first documented in 1332 in the papal registry under the name Novum Forum Siculorum, and as 'Sekulvasarhel' (Székelyvásárhely) in 1349. On the place of its Castle Church, the Dominican's church stood until the Mongol invasion, when it was destroyed. In its place, the Franciscans built a new Gothic church in 1260 , which was completed in 1446. Since 1439 the town was the scene of the session of parliament ( diet) 36 times.In 1405, the King of Hungary Sigismund of Luxembourg granted the city the right to organize fairs. In 1470 King Matthias Corvinus granted the first judicial privilege to the city, and in 1482 declared the city a royal settlement. In 1492, wayvoda István Báthory strengthened its monastery with fortifications, this was a pentagon-shaped outer castle tower. In 1506, the troops of Pál Tomori were beaten by the Szeklers rising against the payment of an extraordinary Ox tax imposed on them on occasion of the birth of Louis II of Hungary. In 1557, the Reformed Church College (i.e. Presbyterians) was established as the oldest Hungarian school of Transylvania. In 1571, the session of Transylvanian parliament under prince John II Sigismund Zápolya accepted the free preach of the word of God, including the Unitarian Church. In 1600-1601, as a result of the siege of Giorgio Basta, the fortress turned to ruins. In 1602, the troops of Gergely Németh put on fire the remaining houses of the town, therefore, in 1602 the reconstruction of the fortress was started further the advice of mayor Tamás Borsos, but it was actually built between 1614 and 1653. Mózes Székely the only prince of Szekler origin visited the city in 1603, when liberated Transylvania from foreign domination. In 1616, it was granted the status of a free royal city under the name of Maros-Vásárhely by prince (fejedelem) Gábor Bethlen. In 1658, Turkish and Tartarian troops invaded and burned it, 3000 people were taken into captivity. In 1661, as no one show willingness to accept the duty of prince, under pressure from pasha Ali, Mihály Apafi was elected prince here. In 1662, resulting from the negligence of the Turkish military residing here, the city was almost completely burnt down. In 1687, it was devastated by German imperial troops.
In 1704, the kuruc troops of Pál Kaszás occupied the fortress, which was re-occupied by Lörinc Pekry from the labanc in 1706. On 5 April 1707, Francis II Rákóczi was raised to the chair of princes. In 1707 it was struck by pest, more than 3500 people died, the black death renewed in 1709, 1719 and in 1738-39. The city received a major boost to its social and economic life when it became home to supreme court of justice of the Principality of Transylvania in 1754. In 1802, the Teleki Library founded by count Sámuel Teleki was opened for the public with 40.000 volumes.
Avram Iancu, the leader of the 1848 Romanian revolution in Transylvania, was a young lawyer in the city of Tîrgu Mureş before engaging in the fight for the rights of Romanians living in Transylvania. On 4 November 1848, the Szekler troops were beaten by the Austrian imperial troops under its walls, and the city was also captured. On January 13, 1949 the troop of major Tolnay recaptured it. On 30 July 1849, Sándor Petofi and Bem set out from here for the Battle of Segesvár.
In 1854, Szekler martyrs Károly Horváth, János Török and Mihály Gálfi were executed on the Postarét for plotting against the Austrian rule , since 1874 a monument marks the place. In 1861, Marosvásárhely became the seat of Marosszék, in 1876 that of Maros-Torda County. In 1880 the statue of Bem was inaugurated in Roses Square, in downtown area; in 1893 the statue of Kossuth was as well. The statue of Rákóczi was also inaugurated in 1907. All three were demolished after World War I between 1919 in 1923. After Transylvania became part of Romania, all three of them were destroyed between 1919 and 1923.
The provincial appearance of the city changed greatly in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1913, the Hungarian Art-Nouveau style city hall complex and Cultural Palace was opened, as part of mayor Bernády György's urban renewal. After World War I, together with the rest of Transylvania, Marosvásáshely became part of Romania and was re-named Oşorheiu. From having been an 89% Hungarian-populated city (1910), Romanian population increased throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
From 1940 to 1944, as a consequence of the Second Vienna Award, the city was ceded back to Hungary. After Hungary was occupied by Germany in 1944, a Jewish ghetto was established in the city. Marosvásárhely re-entered the Romanian administration at the end of the war in October 1944, however, on 12 November 1944 general Vinogradov of the Soviet Red Army expulsed the returning Romanian authorities from Northern Transylvania with reference to the massacres committed by members of Iuliu Maniu's so called Maniu-guard, and the Romanian authorities were not allowed to return until the government of Petru Groza was formed on 6 March 1945.
After World War II, the communist administration of Romania conducted a policy of massive industrialization that completely re-shaped the community. Between 1950-1968, it was the center of the Hungarian Autonomous Province, later named as Mures-Hungarian Autonomous Region. On 7 September 1959, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Secretary-General of the Romanian Workers Party, and the Prime Minister Chivu Stoica visited the city. It was then decided where to build the fertilizer production plant, and the new residential quarters of the city. It was decided that the residential quarters would not be built in the Maros valley, but on the surrounding hills.
In March 1990, shortly after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 overthrew the communist regime, the city was the stage of violent confrontations between ethnic Hungarians and ethnic Romanians.
As of 2000, a considerable percentage of its population has started to work abroad temporarily. The local economy has started to get stronger after various investors settled in the area.
The city has a substantial ethnic Hungarian minority, some of whom identify as Székelys. Since 2003 some Székely organizations have been campaigning for the city to become the center of an autonomous region again. Dorin Florea is the first directly elected ethnic Romanian mayor of the city, though the city council retains a majority of ethnic Hungarians.
The first fortress in the town was erected in 1492 upon order of Transylvanian voivode Stephen Báthory, and was accomplished somewhere between 1602 and 1652 under judge Tamás Borsos. Having a pentagon plan, surrounded by a defense wall, the Citadel has seven forts, five of them bearing the names of the guild which – according to tradition – supported its maintenance: the leather dressers’, the tailors’, the butchers’, the ironmongers’, the coopers’. After the Citadel was taken over by the Austrian troops, it became the headquarters of the military garrison based in the town. In the mean time the Baroque style building was built (on the left hand side of the road in front of the entrance gate) and in the second half of the 18th century the construction works of the ‘barkey’ were started, an addition finished in the 19th century. On the occasion of the Targu Mures days – which have as central point of performance the Citadel – a museum center was opened in the gate fort (erected in 1613) presenting the history of the town and of the Citadel.
The Teleki-Bolyai Library is a historic public library and current museum in in the town. One of the richest Transylvanian collections of cultural artefacts, it was founded by the Hungarian Count Sámuel Teleki in 1802, at the time when Transylvania was part of the Habsburg Monarchy, and has been open to the reading public ever since. It was among the first institutions of its kind inside the Habsburg-ruled Kingdom of Hungary. It houses over 200,000 volumes, of which many are rarities, constituting a comprehensive scientific database. The book collection is divided into several smaller libraries, of which the two main donations are the original 40,000-volume Teleki Library and the 80,000-volume Bolyai Library; the rest, grouped as the Miscellaneous Collection, is made up of several private libraries, volumes previously held by religious schools and those of a Franciscan monastery. Overall, the library constitutes a collection of most traditional types of Transylvanian book.
The old City Hall built between 1906-1907 on the construction plans of Komor Marcell and Jakab Dezső. The entrance area, including the corridor and the staircase leading to the first floor, is the most representative in this regard. The ribbed stellar vaults that cover this area were inspired by Gothic architecture. The use of such vaults can only be explained by purely esthetic reasons, as there is no practical argument for this choice at the beginning of the 20th century. The vaults are supported by columns with composite caps, and the keystone is a large floral shape which includes the lighting appliance. The vaults are painted with spiraling vegetal motifs. One of the most spectacular elements of the front hall is the stone bench with its legs shaped as those of an animal and with wing-shaped handles. Its shell-shaped, golden back has a shield flanked by two volutes on its upper side. The monumental staircase leading to the first floor also boasts some impressive elements such as the upper side of the banister resembling a slithering animal or a wave. The exterior decoration is simpler and is based on Hungarian - Székely folk motives made of polychromatic ceramics. The ground floor is marked by a solid, embossed pedestal. The empty and full areas on the façade are rather well balanced, even though the windows with large openings tend to be predominant. The three semicircular windows in the middle area of the facade are those of the honor hall that has a double elevation with respect to the other rooms. The glass paintings which illustrated Gábor Bethlen, Francis II Rákóczi, Lajos Kossuth, Ferenc Deák and Franz Joseph I of Austria are missing from the halls.
The Cultural Palace is a remarkable construction in the city center. It was built upon initiative of the mayor of the town, György Bernády. Building works started in the spring of 1911. They contributed to the establishment of the Hungarian secessionist architecture school in Transylvania by their works in Deva and Oradea. The plan is an irregular rectangle, with protuberances on the sides and at the extremities. The building has five floors: a tall ground floor, a mezanine and three floors diferentiated by the use of various construction materials. The facades are characterized by bi-dimensionality and by a liniar-rectangular style, with only a few curvilinear elements: the six bow-windows covered by semi-caps above the main portal and the circular balconies on the edges. The main entrance is in the middle of the facade on Enescu street and is made up of four massive doors, protected by an architecural element made of glass and with an iron framing. This element, as well as the doors decorated with iron floral motifs are typical for the 1900s style. The exterior is richly decorated, with colored mosaic panels, with relieved scenes and busts of Hungarians. The most impressive composition is the mosaic on the main facade, an allegorical scene inspired by the Hungarian folklore. The cardboards were made by Nagy Sándor, an important Hungarian artist, who founded with Körösföy Kriesch Aladár the School of Gödöllő. The art is characterized by bi-dimensionality and vertical rhythmicalness. Most of the mosaics and stained glass windows were authored by Róth Miksa, particularly those on the side facing Square.
The Cornesti high (Somostető) - an excellent landscape of Târgu Mureş can be seen from here