An outlook on one of the oldest spa resorts in Romania.
“Return to the Water! Balance and Health.” This is how one of Romania’s and even the world’s first spa resorts could be promoted. First documented in 153 AD, the Baile Herculane thermal spa resort is part of the Valea Cernei – Domogled National Park. Many of the tourists who visited Baile Herculane have appreciated the Mediterranean climate and the healing power of the thermal waters here. The resort is worth more attention than it has received in the past 25 years, according to Viorel Silvoseanu, a physician specialized in rehabilitation, physical recovery and spa treatment. Viorel Silvoseanu:
“The air here is highly ionized, rich in oxygen and very fresh, due to the currents on the valley of Cerna River and to the altitude. The ionisation here is the highest in the area and varies depending on the time of day. What does high negative ionisation mean? In the big cities there are 80 to 100 ions per cubic centimetre. This concentration goes up to 2,000 ions in Baile Herculane, so there is a clearly positive influence. These ions help us sleep better and balance our nervous system. Negative ions stimulate metabolism and speed up recovery. The spa resort offers a wide range of therapeutic procedures. The thermal sulphurous bath is the most appreciated by tourists, but we also have thermal baths using medicinal herbs. The herbs we use all chemical-free. We use mint, hawthorn, calendula, acacia, milfoil and lavender. We also use physiotherapy with low, medium and high magnetic frequency and the IR laser, available in all spa hotels in Romania, as well as therapeutic relaxation massage, hydrokinetic and kinetic therapy, psychological counselling and continuous medical education.”
Doctor Viorel Silvoseanu has explained why the sulphurous bath is recommended as treatment:
“We use it to treat degenerative illnesses such as osteoarthritis and chronic degenerative rheumatism. We also use it for illnesses of the locomotive system, of the nervous system and the skin, as well as for genital or neurological conditions. Post-traumatic disorders that follow labour and car accidents can also be treated here. The sulphurous bath has a positive effect on the body thanks to its three main components: the chemical, thermal and mechanical one. The major chemical component is the sulphur, not the one included in the periodic table but hydrogen sulphide, which enters the blood stream through the skin or by inhalation. It helps treat people suffering from joint impingement diseases.”
Baile Herculane has a long tradition as a spa town. It is located at the foot of the southern Carpathians, in the Cerna river valley. Historian Dorin Balteanu tells us more about the history of this place.
“The Romans were the first to realise the therapeutic benefits of these springs. Our Dacian ancestors had also been aware of the water’s benefits and would build light structures made of wood at the place of origin of these springs. After the conquest of Dacia, the Romans pulled down these structures and built instead the first Roman baths, called thermae. An ancient altar can still be seen today in the resort’s old centre, dating back to 153 AD. Baile Herculane is one of the oldest spa towns in the world. The thermal springs in Cerna Valley drew the attention of the new Roman rulers, who made their first investments in the area, building the first roads, aqueducts, viaducts and baths. The place soon attracted both important political figures from the Roman Empire and ordinary citizens, who came here for treatment and rest. Needless to say, there are many legends connected to this area. After bathing in the miraculous waters of the mineral springs, Hercules is said to have fought the Hydra in Cerna Valley. A number of megalithic statues can be found in Baile Herculane, such as the Sphinx of Cerna, the Banat Sphinx in Toplet and the bas-relief of the Imperial Roman Baths depicting Hercules’ clash with Hydra in Cerna Valley.”
Travel blogger Florin Arjoc says Baile Herculane is more than a good place for a spa holiday or a nice place to walk around:
“Baile Herculane is the perfect starting point for trips in an area of up to 200 km. Travellers can leave their luggage in Baile Herculane while visiting the surrounding area, and come back for a dip in the thermal waters. There are travel agencies that provide such packages. This year we have added a new route. One interesting trip is a cruise on the Danube. The trip starts in Orsova and can also include a visit to the museum of the Iron Gates hydropower plant. On the Danube, visitors can spot the monument of Tabula Traiana, the statue of Dacian king Decebalus, the Danube gorges and trips may be arranged to the caves on the Danube. Another idea is a trip by train from Oravita to Anina. The route is 30 km long and lasts for two hours, going through tunnels and across bridges. The train is an old model, but is in good condition. It’s an amazing experience and I warmly recommend this train journey. Other places that can be reached from Baile Herculane and which are not so well known are several villages 20 km upstream from Herculane that can only be reached through some wooden steps. Once you are at the top of the mountain, the view is truly spectacular.”
To end this programme, let’s hear from the founder of the travel website Infotravel Romania, Petre Dordea:
“Our website is for people who are interested in nature, history and traditions and can do without 5-star accommodation and all-inclusive holidays. I urge you all to come to Romania because it is a beautiful country, there are many interesting things to see here and, while it may not be the cheapest destination, it is by no means the most expensive.”