The city of Lugoj is located between Caransebes and Timisoara, but the two segments of the road we made the same day were quite different. Both are in very good condition by any standards, some of the best we have traveled in Romania, but while the first part between Caransebes and Lugoj bends in between the hills in a very picturesque area, the second one that connects Lugoj and Timisoara is one of the dullest and most boring areas I have ever driven on.

It’s only the second time I was visiting Lugoj in my life, despite the strong family relations with this city. My grandparents and my mother were born there, and actually the first time I visited the city was exactly 40 years ago, together with my mother, on some kind of roots finding visit. Of course, I had now again a list of places I was supposed to visit, make photos of and bring the pictures to my mother who cannot travel that far any longer.

Lugoj is a place with an interesting history in an interesting area. Mentioned by historical documents for the first time in the 14th century, it was by the time my grand-grandparents lived in a town at the Southern extremity of the Austro-Ungarian Empire, in the area of Banat inhabited by Romanian, Hungarian, German, Serbian, Jews, Gypsies and probably more nations. My grandmother used to say that before the first world war the population in Lugoj was one third Romanian, one third Hungarian, one third German and one third Jewish. She was right despite the arithmetic paradox.

The Two Towers Orthodox church was the first on the list that we visited. It was built in the 18th century, but the interior painting was completely redone between 1941 and 1944 by the painter Anastasie Damian, the same painter who created much of the interior paintings of the Cathedral in Timisoara. My mother’s years of war were related to this church, as a Jew she could not go to public schools because of the racial laws, and as my grandfather was a friend of the painter she took a job of apprentice to church painter Damian! She claims that one of the angels painted on the ceiling is her portrait, I could not really identify it :-) The interior painting was renovated a few years ago, the exterior is now under renovation.

Just behind the church can be found the Saint Nicholas Tower, the oldest Orthodox Christian structure in the city, built in 1402 with baroque additions dating from 1726.

We then wondered on the streets of the area of the city called the Romanian area, located on the right side of the river. Many of the buildings are more than 100 years old, some of them are renovated, but a more serious renovation project would help to bring back the beauty of this very picturesque city. See for example the photos of the Bejan Palace, built in 1901 by a royal notary clerk who also was a fine intellectual, who translated first to Romanian the Chronic of Bella, fundamental document in the history of Hungary.

The water of the river Timis cross the city and divide it between the Romanian side and the German side on the other side of the river. Of course, the names are just history, today more than 85% of the population is Romanian. The Iron Bridge is connecting the two parts of the center of the city, and the reaction of my mother seeing the pictures was that it did not change at all from the image she had in her memories as a child.

The same cannot be said about the Dacia Hotel, which was a landmark of the city. We stayed here overnight in 1972 when I first visited the city, which would not have been possible now. The hotel is closed, the building is waiting for some well-deserved renovation to be brought back to its functions and splendor.

Not far from the hotel and the heart of the city the beautiful building of the synagogue can be found. It was built in 1843, and was the heart of the Jewish life – religious and cultural as well, as many of the Jews of Lugoj were educated and music was part of their life in a city that gave to Romania several fine composers and musicians. A school existed in the backyard for more than one hundred year, and was closed forever by the Communist regime. According to Romanian Jewish Community web page dedicated to Lugoj there are only 56 Jews living today in the city, the synagogue is still active, but unfortunately was closed by the time we visited there so we could not enter it.

On our way back we took a picture to what was once the corso - the place of leisure and wandering of the middle class and of course beautiful ladies of the city. Today it’s a commercial area, nice but not too different of the one that can be found in many other places in Europe or the world.

Last stop was on the Popovici Street, to see the house that was once owned by my grand-grandparents and my grandparents, and where my mother and uncle spent their childhood. It’s a quite area, somehow remote from the center of the city. A moment a remembering, a few pictures of the house and the places around, and we got back to the car on our way to Timisoara – another city with good vibrations in the history of my family.