It has been many years since I last visited Targu Jiu and since Baby Romanian has never been there so far, I’ve decided to jump in the car one Sunday morning and go there for a short trip, especially since it’s just a 1.5-hour drive away from our city. And even though we only spent several hours there – most of them hopping from playground to playground – I can say that I was really impressed with the city, especially the central areas that we roamed around.

And you know what? I decided to share my thoughts with you, as Targu Jiu might be a great place for expats to settle to or a quiet & nice retirement spot as it is a bit away off the radar.

The city is beautiful even during the colder days of fall...
The city is beautiful even during the colder days of fall…

Targu Jiu is one place that existed even when the Dacians roamed the lands, even if it was just a small village back then. Situated near the beautiful Jiu river and close to the Carpathian mountains. It houses around 80,000 people, so it can be considered a decently-sized city. Many of the people living there are or were coal miners as the ares 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.

One of the best things you should know Targu Jiu for 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. However, he lived much of his life in France and recently 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 – from its owners, despite setting up a donations campaign backed up by important celebrities, where tens of thousands of Romanians sent money hoping to raise the required funds.

The sculpture that couldn't be bought
The sculpture that couldn’t be bought

The campaign, which ran under the motto “Brancusi is mine” apparently ended this month about $5 million short of the $11 million selling price of the sculpture, with donations rounding up to just $1.2 million, while around $6 million were offered by the state. And now the government finds itself in an even bigger mess as it has to give back the money received from donations: that’s around 100,000 people who contributed. So yes, crazy things like this happen in Romania!

But let’s get back to Targu Jiu! The city 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 away in the Endless Column Park. Check them out below, as we saw them during our visit:

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The kissing gate (and Baby Romanian)
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The silence table and a nice view of the park
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The endless column

In the center of the city you can also find a nice pedestria street with a lot of green areas, surrounded by shops, bakeries and pubs. Strangely, restaurants are not as numerous as one would expect in the area (which is pretty touristic too), but you will definitely not go hungry! And if that’s not enough for you, you can hop into a car and drive a few kilometers to a nearby village where this insane Castle-Restaurant awaits:

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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 standing. 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. Plus, it was getting late!

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.

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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. 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.

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The city is home of numerous sculptures created by artists from all over the world
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There are indeed some beautiful sights in the city!

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!

More Brancusi below and a great video that will surely make you Happy & willing to at least visit Targu Jiu:

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So for those looking for cities that are not as popular as the major ones in the country, but which are still charming and especially cheap to live in, Targu Jiu might actually be a hidden gem!

8 COMMENTS

  1. That does indeed look like a nice place to settle in away from the maddening crowds. I love the Endless Column and the Kissing Gate. Doesn’t Bay Romanian look so cute right there? I like that the city has a lot of art and it looks like you can actually “breathe” there. I’m not too fond of huge cities where everything is so tightly packed. Great suggestion for someone looking for a bit off the beaten path. Nice one!

  2. Hi Calin: Lovely pictures. So, no snow, yet? Are you expecting a white Christmas?
    I like this article because it was so inclusive. Who knew about Constantin Brancusi, the founder of modern sculpture and one of the most important sculptors of the 20th Century along with the failure of the Romanian Government to buy one of his most important works of art – “Wisdom of the Earth”?
    I definitely like all the green space. Also, “river cities,” are usually very attractive.
    I know VAT is added to most everything, but do different cities add local taxes (As they do in USA)?
    Also, does this city have “heating” issues, as your city DID?
    I wonder what the menu was in the Castle-Restaurant? (Did you hear what the new in-dish in Moscow is Rat Burger–Ugh!!!)
    Looking forward to more city reviews!
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      We went to Targu Jiu in late October, actually, so it might look a bit different now. It actually snowed a little bit in my city (and all over Romania), so we’re definitely hoping for a White Christmas (Baby Romanian the most).

      Regarding the city, there are no city-added taxes that I know of in Targu Jiu or in Romania. I know that a few years ago you had to pay a very small fee to enter the Mamaia resort, but that was about it. I am not even sure if that “tax” still stands and if it’s something that you only have to pay during the summer. And regarding the heating issues, I don’t think that Targu Jiu had any problems – I haven’t read anything in the papers about it.

      Regarding the menu in the Castle-restaurant, I have no idea, but hopefully they didn’t serve ratburgers, although there are plenty of those in Romania as well, most likely 🙂

  3. I have never been to Targu Jiu. I was very impressed with your pictures of the city. It looks close to the mountains and has pretty good train connections with Bucharest. The video had me dancing in the teacher’s room here in Japan. Regarding the statue “Wisdom of the Earth,” I think the price is a bit stiff. This statue is again private property that was confiscated during the communist period and then returned to the heirs after the Revolution. They have promptly decided to cash in. I think some nominal compensation, maybe even 1 million euros, is due the former owners but 12 million Euros???? That strikes me as very greedy, and I can think of many other things Romania needs besides this relatively small statue. Judging by the donations so far, most Romanians seem to agree with me.

    • Exactly! The owners might be a bit greedy, but they are allowed to do whatever they feel is necessary. The whole thing was a poor attempt at making something happen. With so many people having to worry a lot about that they’re going to eat and how are they going to pay their bills, few still care about art, let alone expensive art. But indeed, they could find better ways to spend that amount of money!

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