Today we invite you to join us on a trip to Baile Herculane in south-western Romania, one of the oldest spas in the world, documented for the first time as early as 1900 years ago
Located on the Cerna Valley, surrounded by mountains, the resort has always been a favourite destination for both mountain trackers and people willing to benefit from effective spa treatment. Also, it can be the starting point for trips to other places of interest, across a surrounding area of some 200 square kilometers. Travel agencies offer tourists quite a wide variety of packages, including boat trips along the Danube, a visit to the museum of the Iron Gates Hydroelectric Power Station or a road trip along one of the oldest mountain railways in Europe. The tourist circuit includes stopovers at the Tabula Traiana memorial plaque or Decebalus’s Statue, and also several caves. Florin Bazavan, the manager of a hotel in the area, told us about the spa’s offer:
"This is one of the best known resorts and it’s blooming. Its main component is the spa, which provides treatment solutions but not only. Actually, it is open to all those who want to just escape the daily hustle and bustle and relax. The service offer has extended in the past years and there are many hotels equipped with swimming pools, saunas, fitness rooms, gyms, relaxation areas. Also, tourists can benefit from the therapeutic effects of the local thermal-salty waters, which are extremely beneficial to health.”
The range of procedures that tourists can choose from is very wide: magneto therapy, thermo therapy with short and infrared waves, ultra-sound-therapy and ultrasound therapy, electrotherapy, which is very effective in reducing pain and stimulating the muscles, electro-hydrotherapy, aerosols for lung diseases and allergies, kinetotherapy. As regards wellness, guests can choose from massages, 80-degree dry sauna and swimming in indoor and outdoor pools.
Many of the pavilions were erected in the first half of the 19th century, grouped around the statue of Hercules. There are some heritage buildings, such as the Casino, the Austrian Imperial Baths and the villa where the Austrian – Hungarian Empress Elisabeth used to stay. Actually, the Empress, better known as Sisi, had a passion for the Herculane Spa and its surroundings. There are also other natural tourist attractions around the resort, as Mariana Pasarin, from the Domogled – Valea Cernei park administration told us.
“This is the biggest national park in Romania, stretching over 61,000 hectares. For two years now we also have a visitation center, where people can find any information they need. It’s not just an information center, because it has three storeys, each of them presenting one aspect that is relevant with regard to the park. For instance, one floor is devoted to caves, and visitors can see mock-ups of caves and also a miniature park. The last floor is devoted to human communities, and the exhibition includes archeological and museum items and traditional costumes. The ground floor is the place where visitors can learn about the main species of flora and fauna in the region”.
Mariana Pasarin is the one that welcomes tourists at the centre and introduces them to the area’s attractions. She has several proposals for those interested in taking trips in the surroundings:
“There is a route that leads to the White Cross, a cross erected on one of the peaks, but we don’t know by whom. Since the author is unknown, many legends have appeared about it. Up there you can get a beautiful panorama of the entire Cerna Valley and Herculane Spas. Also in the area there are other routes leading to kiosks placed in places where the scenery is breathtaking. It’s actually the area that Empress Sisi used to love to walk around. One of the kiosks was actually named after her, Elisabeth.”
Mariana Pasarin, a representative of the Domogled-Valea Cernei national park told us about the tourists who come from all over the world, including from the US and Canada. Also, worth mentioning is that there are several events organized throughout the year, of which the most important is the one dedicated to the park. Mariana Pasarin:
“This celebration is called ‘The Banat Black Pine Tree Festival’, which is held on the last Sunday of May, because it is also linked with the European Parks Day, celebrated on May 24. We try to bring together all the communities that live inside the park, with their own customs and traditions. As of July this year, some 10,000 hectares of virgin forest are on the UNESCO heritage list, boasting 100-200 year old beech trees. This is one of the largest such areas in Europe, not just in Romania. We’ve had tourists that had heard about these forests being on the UNESCO list and were very curious to see them. In this park, people can do many things, from rafting, climbing, mountain trekking, thermal baths, which are specific to this place, and can also visit caves. This national park is by all means one of the most beautiful places in Romania.” (Translated by M. Ignatescu)