River Cerna Valley is a picturesque area, with varied and breathtakingly beautiful scenery, where hamlets can still be found, and where the people of today are still leading the simple life their ancestors used to live, hundreds of years ago. The area offers a wide range of natural assets: waterfalls, caves, spectacular gorges.
It is also here that you can find a spa resort, where, the therapeutic qualities of the mineral waters have been put to good use, as early as the Roman age. This spa, famous in Romania, is called Baile Herculane.
Domogled - Valea Cernei National Park is Romania's largest park of this kind, according to its representative, Mariana Pasarin, who will be giving us details about it.
Mariana Pasarin: "The park has a surface area of more than 61,000 hectares and we welcome our tourists from a visiting center built in the region. It is a three-storey building, and on each floor we have on display a different dimension of the National Park. The semi-basement has been entirely devoted to the World of Caves. In there one can see dioramas of several caves and one of the National Park itself. The top floor has been dedicated to communities and their people. There we have a couple of archaeological remnants, museum items, traditional costumes. On the ground floor, you may find general info on flora and fauna species. I act as some sort of a guide and can direct tourists, providing info on the park's trekking routes. We have info kiosks, with information in Romanian, but also in English and in German. The details of our maps are also presented in English. You can find them right on your way out from Baile Herculane."
Here is Mariana Pasarin once again, speaking about the park's attraction points, which are many, and very diverse.
Mariana Pasarin: "We have waterfalls, we have caves, very spectacular gorges, high peaks, with panorama points offering splendid sceneries. There are areas suitable for climbing, and whitewater rafting is also possible on some sections of the river. Most tourists come here for backpacking trips. There is so much wilderness and that makes their delight. Of the trekking routes, one of the most popular is the one leading to the Vanturatoarea Waterfall, with water falling from 40 meters. Its uniqueness resides in the fact that this waterfall allows tourists to pass and see it also from behind, which usually has a deep impact on our visitors. We've got a great many gorges with an impressive karstic relief. There is a functional watermill here as well. In the Baile Herculane area we have a trekking route taking us all the way up to the White Cross. There is a mountain cross on one of these peaks but its origin is not exactly known. So there are lots of legends about this cross. The peak offers a fine view of the Baile Herculane spa, and the whole Cerna valley. Also in the area of Baile Herculane spa there are several trekking routes taking us to a couple of watch towers, placed in belvedere areas. It was the favorite area of the Austro-Hungarian Empress Sisi, whenever she visited this region. One of the watchtowers even bears her name. It is known as the Elisabeta watchtower. So the place also has a strong historical tinge".
Soon Cerna Valley will venue a series of celebrations, as tourists are invited to discover the old traditions and customs of the place. Mariana Păsărin, a representative of the Domogled Cerna Valley National Park has more.
Mariana Pasarin: "We have a park celebration. It's called the Black Pine of Banat and takes place annually on the last weekend of May, being associated with the European Day of National Parks which is marked on May 24. At this festival we are trying to gather all communities inside the park area, with their customs and traditions. There is also a parade of traditional costumes. People bring their songs and dances which they include in short performances. The event also includes a contest devoted to children from the neighboring schools and those located in the park area. There are several sections in which children can compete such as drawing, painting and poetry. The general theme of the contest is the black pine, alongside the awareness of the need to love nature and to live in close communion with nature. Some of the children's works receive prizes and are later displayed in the visitor center."
Down Cerna Valley there are 39 hamlets, most of which are abandoned. The best known such hamlet is called Ineleț, which is still inhabited and which is linked to the modern world by means of 4 wooden stairs measuring 100 meters. The stairs are mounted on a vertical stone wall. Until several years ago, school pupils used to do their homework by the candle light, because Ineleț did not have electricity at the time. In the meantime, a project was run under which the school was equipped with photo-voltaic solar panels and the classroom with 4 computers. The hamlet consists of almost 100 scattered houses, each on top of a hill. 20 kms from this isolated place there lies Baile Herculane Spa which boasts thermal springs with extraordinary therapeutic qualities. Laura Pătru is the marketing manager of a hotel compound in Herculane.
Laura Patru: "The place is rich in history. Baile Herculane is one of the oldest spa resorts in Romania which was attested in documents in 153. It is a place full of legends, with great natural landscapes, 16 thermal and thermo - sulfurous springs that have great benefits for the human body, benefits that have been acknowledged in time. Our hotels have been completely refurbished and the spa centers are trying to combine centuries-old therapies inherited from the Romans with the latest state-of-the-art SPA technologies from Europe. We have a special offer: sauna with local plants, prepared according to our own recipes. Our plant combinations are inspired by the legends about Hercules' strength and Aphrodite's beauty."
Hotels here are waiting for guests also in winter. They will find here a warm and pleasant environment, and will be able to relax in the swimming pool or the Jacuzzi pool and admire the snow outside. In summer the outdoor swimming pools are also open, so the area is the perfect destination for both an active and relaxation holiday.