Targu Jiu is a hidden gem in Romania, although it shouldn’t be. Everybody should know about this city and visit it, as it was the home of Romania’s famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi and the city itself has a lot to offer.
We visited Targu Jiu after many years, hopping in the car and driving for about 1.5 hours from Drobeta Turnu Severin. There aren’t great train connections from other major cities, but if hopefully today’s article will help you decide that you have to do all you can to visit it.
I can say that I was really impressed with the city, especially the central areas that we roamed around. A really pleasant surprise to see that Targu Jiu grew up so nicely since my last visit many years ago.
So let’s find out more about Targu Jiu in today’s article: top things to do and see, where to stay (hint: an AMAZING hotel!) and some personal impressions on this hidden gem in Romania.
Where to stay in Targu Jiu?
Without a doubt, the best hotel in Targu Jiu is Hotel Anna. You must check it out – although it’s a three star hotel, it is better than most I have visited in Romania, no matter their star rating.
Amazing room designs (although the rooms are a bit on the small side), comfortable large beds, extremely clean and with very friendly staff. This is difficult to find no matter the cost, but Hotel Anna is actually fairly priced!
It’s also located close to the city center and the main attractions in the city, right across the street from a supermarket. I am sure you’ll love this place, even though it doesn’t look like much from the outside – it’s worth at least checking it out.
Targu Jiu: Top Things to See and Do
Targu Jiu might be a great place for expats to settle in or a quiet & nice retirement spot since it’s a bit off the beaten path – a city that you never see mentioned in travel brochures, unfortunately.
Also, for a short visit (a weekend or at least a full day), Targu Jiu has plenty to offer, especially if you’re into nature and art.
I told you that Romania’s greatest sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, lived here, so you can check out some of his art for free in various places in the city.
Targu Jiu has some of the most important works of Constantin Brancusi on display, for free: the Kissing Gate and the Table of Silence can be seen in the Constantin Brancusi park in the center of the city, while the Endless Column is just 10 minutes of walking away in the Endless Column Park.
Because of this, I am actually surprised that Targu Jiu doesn’t make it on many (if any) lists of places to see when in Romania – especially since it has more to offer than just the said sculptures.
Check them out below, as we saw them during our visit:
In the center of the city you can also find a nice pedestrian street with a lot of green areas, surrounded by shops, bakeries and pubs.
Strangely, restaurants are not as many as one would expect in this somewhat touristy area, but there are at least a couple of good options, so you won’t go hungry.
Or if you have some extra time on your hands, you can hop into a car and drive a few kilometers to the nearby village Cornesti where this insane-looking Castle-Restaurant (named Perla Restaurant) awaits:
We just stopped for a photo: I initially thought, when I saw it from afar, that it’s a real castle and I was surprised with its great condition.
But when we got there and saw it’s a restaurant, we decided against entering as we had just eaten and had no reasons to fill our bellies some more.
So I can’t say if the food’s good, but apparently the interior is designed to fit its medieval theme, so it should be considered an interesting experience to say the least.
In the central area that we spent most of our time in, things looked really nice. A lot of options when it comes to shopping and sightseeing, plus you have the Jiu river going right through the middle of the city and offering great views as well.
Targu Jiu is also spread on a larger area, so I doubt that it ever gets too crowded. There are many beautiful homes away from the city center, with nice gardens and pretty quiet too.
It did seem very chill and laid back – it could be the fact that it was a Sunday that we visited, but I doubt it gets too insane at any given moment of day or night.
All in all, I was really impressed with the city and, even though it could’ve been the fact that it was something I hadn’t seen for a long time, I considered it at least a bit better looking than Drobeta Turnu Severin, the city where I live in and a smaller city to retire to that I highly recommended.
One of the biggest problems for Targu Jiu, however, is that it is a bit away from the major travel routes in Romania, the closest major cities being Craiova, Ramnicu Valcea, Drobeta Turnu Severin or Deva so not really the cities at the top of the “must visit” lists.
However, for those looking for something away off the beaten track and an otherwise beautiful city near the mountains, it would definitely be a great choice!
Things to know about Targu Jiu
This city existed even when the Dacians roamed the lands, even if it was just a small village back then. It is situated near the beautiful Jiu river – hence its name which translates as Jiu’s Fair – and close to the Carpathian mountains.
Around 82,000 people call it home at the moment, so it can be considered a decently-sized city.
Many of the people living there are or were coal miners as the areas around Targu Jiu are rich in coal deposits.
However, recent years have seen numerous layovers and coal mining is starting to grow less and less popular, with other job opportunities taking their place.
One of the best things you should know about Targu Jiu is the fact that it’s the birth place of Constantin Brancusi, the founder of modern sculpture and one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. And, of course, one of Romania’s biggest personalities.
However, he lived much of his life in France and a few years ago the Romanian government managed to make fools of themselves after failing to buy one of his most important works of art – Wisdom of the Earth.
The piece was on sale by its owner and even though a donations campaign was set up and tens of thousands of Romanians contributed to raise money to buy the sculpture, they still didn’t manage to raise enough.
The campaign, which ran under the motto “Brancusi is mine” apparently ended about $4 million short of the $11 million asking price of the sculpture, with donations rounding up to just $1.2 million, while around $6 million were offered by the state.
But at least some of his larger pieces of art can be seen for free in the city. Here are a couple more photos of them:
Those looking for cities in Romania that are not as popular as the major ones, but are still charming and have a lot to offer – both for long term living and a quick visit of 1-3 days, Targu Jiu is a hidden gem you should discover.