Târgu Jiu was the first city we visited in Wallachia, Romania. A little bit „wild“. In the city, I was grateful for the mobile Internet, because I would hardly get out of the station to the hotel through the crooked streets without its help. The city has more than 80 thousand inhabitants, but due to the bustle that prevailed here, I would guess the city is much bigger.
How to get to Târgu Jiu?
Târgu Jiu is located in western Wallachia, the Oltenia region, in southwestern Romania.
The city is crossed by 2 national roads (DN) – DN66, which is part of the European road E79 and DN67. The European road E79 starts in Hungary and ends in Greece. In Romania it passes through the cities of Oradea – Deva – Târgu Jiu – Craiova – Calafat. National road DN67 runs on the route Drobeta-Turnu Severin – Târgu Jiu – Râmnicu Valcea.
The bus station (Autogara Expres Transport SA) is located 300 m / 3 minutes walk south of the railway station and 1.5 km / 20 minutes walk southeast of the city center. Traveling by bus from Deva took 3 hours and 13 minutes. The ticket cost 37 RON / 7.64 EUR / person.
You will find the train station (Gara Târgu Jiu) 300 m / 3 minutes walk north of the bus station and 1.2 km / 15 minutes walk southeast of the city center.
Where to get information in Târgu Jiu?
The Tourist Information Center (Info Târgu Jiu; 150 m / 2 minutes walk west of the city center) is located next to the Gorj County Council (Consiliul Județean Gorj) in a side street.
What to do, see and visit in Târgu Jiu?
Târgu Jiu is known for its sculptural ensemble by Constantin Brâncuși. In addition, there are the County Museum and Art Gallery, as in other cities not only in Romania, too.
Who was Constantin Brâncuși?
Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) was a Romanian sculptor of abstract expressionism, painter and photographer. He is one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century. In his works he combined Romanian folk art and Parisian avant-garde. He worked in the workshop of the prominent French sculptor Auguste Rodin. In the period of socialist realism, his works were signed as a decadent bourgeoisie and threatened with extinction.
Only a few decades later the author was understood. His works can be found in art museums in Bucharest, New York or Philadelphia. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. The name Constantin Brâncuși has several streets across Romania and Moldova. The sculptor and his works appeared on postage stamps, banknotes and commemorative coins.
Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuși at Târgu Jiu (Ansamblul sculptural Constantin Brâncuși de la Târgu-Jiu) or the Monumental Ensemble “The Path of Heroes” from Târgu Jiu is a homage to Romanian World War I soldiers who fell on the Jiu river bank in 1916. Their author, Constantin Brâncuși, created 4 statues – Endless Column, Gate of Kisses, Alley of Chairs, and Table of Silence, which are arranged on a nearly 1.5 km long west-east axis. By the way, the ensemble is inscribed on the Tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage.
You would have been able to see from the Table of Silence to the Endless Column if the Church of St. Peter and Paul was not in the way. All the works were unveiled on October 27, 1938. They are the only works of the author that you can admire in situ. The artist was originally supposed to create 12 sculptures, but before his death, he completed only four.
The Endless Column (Coloana Infinitului) has a height of 29.35 m, consisting of 16 (respectively 15 and one half module at the bottom and one half module at the top) of the overlapping octahedra modules. The Endless Column represents an endless sacrifice of Romanian soldiers. The statue is a stylization of burial columns (according to another version of wooden columns of peasant verandas), typical for southern Romania.
I read somewhere that if you stand close to the column and turn your head upwards, it will really appear endless. So I wanted to try it. (Un)luckily, Brâncuși‚s works are a national heritage for the Romanians and are guarded by police 24 hours a day.
The Gate of Kisses (Poarta sărutului) is a triumphal arch, located at the beginning of the city park. The gate has a special meaning for Romanians. It is an entry into life, but also an exit from it. It is therefore a transition to another life. The two halves of the circle on each side of the columns are a kiss symbol.
The Alley of chairs (Aleea scaunelor) consists of 30 stone chairs arranged in triples and 2 stone benches on both sides of the pavement. The sculpture connects the Gate of Kisses with the Table of Silence.
The Table of Silence (Masa tăcerii) stands at the opposite end of the city park as the Gate of Kisses. It represents the moment before the battle of which the attendees will participate. Time is a circular arrangement of 12 hourglass chairs.
Another interpretation says that the Table of Silence is a symbol of the Last Supper. The twelve chairs are for the 12 apostles and the table itself represents Jesus Christ.
Gorj County Museum Alexander Ștefulescu (Muzeul Județean Gorj „Alexandru Ștefulescu“) saves several collections and makes it available to visitors in several museums and memorial houses across the county. It exhibits historical and archaeological collections at the Museum of History and Archaeology Alexander Ștefulescu (Muzeul de istorie și arheologie Alexandru Ștefulescu). The art collections can be found in the Art Gallery (Muzeul de Artă), which focuses on the fine art of Romanian artists from the 17th century to the present. Meet Brâncuși’s personality here with a few pictures of his life.
Where to stay in Târgu Jiu?
From all accommodation facilities in Oltenia in which we were accommodated, I rate Palace Hotel (or also SC Lexi Star SRL Hotel; 700 m / 9 minutes walk west of the bus and railway station and 1.2 km / 16 minutes walk south of the city center) as the best. English speaking receptionist. Spacious, elegantly furnished double room with city view with private bathroom with shower. For breakfast, they will prepare eggs in any way and you can also choose from the buffet.
In the city they probably like warm. They heated our room as if it was freezing outside. We managed to lower the heating a little, but not completely shut it down. The room was still so warm that there was nothing left to do but to sleep in the middle of February with the window open. You don’t have to worry, we certainly didn’t freeze. For a moment I felt like it was summer outside.
Free private parking is possible on site. Reservation is needed. Wi-Fi is available in all areas and is free of charge. For one double room for 1 night for 2 people we paid 140 RON / 28,90 EUR. Price includes room, value added tax, city tax and breakfast for 2 persons. You can only pay in cash in local currency at the hotel.
Where to eat in Târgu Jiu?
Pensiunea Antique, a traditional Romanian restaurant, is located in the city center opposite the Gate of Kisses. We arrived at the restaurant at lunchtime when they were serving the daily menu. The menu consists of soup, main course, salad, dessert and drink. We had 2 meals to choose from.
The staff did not speak English, so we had to translate the food names quickly through google to have at least an idea of what we were ordering. But the waiter arrived fast enough, so we didn’t manage to translate everything. Finally, we chose both options, with the fact that we will be surprised. I am fascinated by the fact that even if the staff does not speak English or understands just a little bit you if you are trying to speak Romanian, „Țuică“ (traditional Romanian plum distillate, usually 40-55%) is understood by everyone. 🙂
We tasted Broth with meatballs (liver dumplings?) and Tripe soup. Menu number 1 was Roast pork chop with green pepper sauce and mashed potatoes with the cabbage salad. They served Tiramisu for dessert. Menu number 2 was Grilled chicken with rice and vegetables. In addition, mixed vegetable salad and they served Pancakes with homemade jam for dessert.
You can choose a drink of your choice – mineral water or draft beer to the daily menu. After lunch I ordered coffee, but since the waiter didn’t understand us very much, he brought us two coffees. For the lunch we paid 87 RON / 17,96 EUR. Well, let me tell you, we were literally „sated„. All calories we burned while walking through the city.
For dinner I chose Madam restaurant, which is also in the city center. Very nicely furnished and modern restaurant with English speaking service. The space is divided by large wine racks, on the walls are photographs with works by Brâncuși. I tasted Baked trout with salt milk rice. For the dinner for 2 people we paid 97,50 RON / 20,13 EUR.
Although we didn’t spend a lot of time in the city, I really liked it here. I dare say that city is such a hidden jewel of the Oltenia region. If I had to choose even one city in western Wallachia to visit again, it would definitely be Târgu Jiu.
The prices were converted according to the current exchange rate of the National Bank of Slovakia on 19 March 2020 (1 EUR = 4.8445 RON).
I did not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage of the services provided by tourism businesses, institutions and organizations.
© Ing. Adam Vanečko