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At the feet of three mountain massifs, enjoying the sunshine, the coolness of the mineral springs and the sights of the surrounding forests, we can reach and discover the balneary resort Balvanyos. Guarded by the Bodoc, Ciomatu and Turia Mountains it is the perfect area for the tourists who are in search of a peaceful place to spend their holiday.

Saint Ann Lake - Balvanyos

Balvanyos Baths

Situated at approximately 20 kilometers from Targu Secuiesc and at the same distance from the Tusnad Baths, Balvanyos attracts a significant number of tourists. The Baths today began to develop after 1895; the oldest was Saua Sósmezõ, named „The Stinker at Turia” afterwards. The area prospered due to the presence of the mineral springs, of the carbon dioxide emanations and the volcanic moffetts.

The resort offers the tourists optimum conditions for rest and treatment. The mineral springs and the post-volcanic emanations are used in order to treat the cardiovascular, rheumatic and intestine disorders. The treatment equipments are supplied for carbon-gas baths, hydrotherapy and thermal therapy. The sun, the fresh, clean mountain air and the mineral waters create the conditions for a vacation that recharges your batteries. Being situated in the interior of a superb natural park, surrounded by the spectacular mountain sights, the place reunites also unrivalled natural beauties and landscapes.

In the close vicinity of Balvanyos Baths, in the north-west, there is a place which is unique in Europe and a very rare thing on the entire globe. We speak about Timsos Baths, a resort with springs that contain a small quantity of sulphuric acid. The surface it occupies is rather small, but the tourists are attracted by the beauty of the landscape and the sights it offers and also by the eight types of springs with different physical-chemical parameters. From here, you can follow a marked trail that leads you to the Healing Springs or you can camp in a splendid corner of nature, perfect for picnics.

From the front of the guesthouse in the centre of the Balvanyos resort, a road starts going towards the Fortress Hill. You reach at a bridge after which you follow the path and the signs up to Csiszar Baths. The story goes that in 1889 the Hungarian nobleman Csiszár Dénes, tired after the hunting, asked for a chair to sit on and rest. He stuck the chair into the soil and instantly, water sprang. He realized that the carbon-gaseous waters in the region were valuable and he bought the land on which he built the baths that we have today. Thus, the necklace of springs Jordán, Zsófia, Mogyóros, and Szemviz began to be used for healing cures.




Balvanyos Fortress

In the north of Balvanyos resort, on the Fortress Hill, one of the oldest fortresses in the region is still situated. Although the year is not known exactly, it is believed it was built between the 10th and the 12th centuries and, during the reign of Saint Stephan, where was the pagans’ temples.

The resort, first certified with documents in 1360 and mentioned with the denomination of “Castri Baluanus”, was situated on the land property of the Apor Family. The archaeological diggings in the area dug out beads since the Romans’ times, but also iron spears and medieval pottery. Beginning with the middle of the 17th century, the fortress was abandoned, and within time, it became a ruin.

Today the higher walls can be seen together with the lower part of the main tower. From here, you can see a special sight on the mountains surroundings and from the valley as well. You reach the fortress following the trail that starts from the resort to the Middle Peak, continuing the path that leads through the forest to this point of the view. When you descend, you will find carts with souvenirs and a mineral spring -Vasas-, where you can cool and calm down your thirst.

Balvanyos Fortress

The Stinky Mountain (Büdös-hegy)

Coming from Bixad, before reaching the deviation road towards Saint Ann Lake, a forest road descends towards the Tinov Hammás, and then continues through the Turia Pass heading to Apor Baths. From here, you leave the tempting highway and follow the forest trail, on the intermediary ring of the Stinky Mountain. Its name comes from the waves of gases through which the extinct volcano still breaths on the mountainsides and into caves, creating sulphurous deposits at the surface.

To the right, the road continues through the tress bent over the path, on the small mountain caves of the mountain, which once were sulfur mines. They say it is from here that, during the Revolution of 1848, the raw material, necessary to make the gunpowder was taken. The first of them is the Alum Cave or Timsos (alum= aluminum and sodium double sulphate), where you can reach after you climb a rather accentuated slope, whose crossing lasts for approximately 5 minutes. Here, the alum is deposited on the caves walls making small crystals in a white-yellowish shade.

Higher up this cave there is another one called the Sulphurous Cave, known also as the Stinky Cave, as the post volcanic emanation escapes through its mouth at the surface with the greatest flow in Europe (3000 cubic meters a day). The moffette gas contains sulphurous hydrogen, which, at the contact with the meteorological state of the weather, throws and precipitates sulphur on the walls of the cave. The sulphorius therapy is good for the treatment of the rheumatic, cardiovascular and allergen disease.

Along the steep crater, the trail unfolds the Birds’ Grave and the Killing Cave. In order to reach that far it is wise to equip yourself accordingly, with appropriate adherent footwear, and take along food to last your hunger few hours.

The Birds Cave is a gallery which once was a sulphrous mine, where the volcanic gases gather. For years, the emanations have killed the birds, which fly over the basin, but also the small rodents that venture on the bottom of the valley. The Killing Cave is as dangerous for the living creatures as the Birds Cave; this cave is mentioned in the documents starting with 1349. Because of the carbon dioxide layer, any living creature that enters in the cave suffocates; the most frequent victims in the cave are the bats.

At the end of the trail, at an altitude of more than 900 meters, the road opens towards the reservation Tinovul Buffogo, known also as the „Bursting-Out Peat Swamp”, a name given to the strong post volcanic gases emanations that make the water burst out continuously. The region is rich in springs with sour water and hosts very rare plants and animals, among which the glacier relic „the sky dew”. The reservation is not arranged for visitors.

You can feel the sharp gas smell on every trail and path. The locals say they can tell the weather according to the post volcanic emanations; when they have a more powerful smell, the weather is going to be bad, and when there is no smell, you can do your hiking without fear.

Tinovul Mohos


Killing Cave

Saint Ann Lake

Only 13 kilometers west from Balvanyos Baths, nature shelters a piece of nature man has not touched. Saint Ann Lake is the only volcanic lake in Europe; it is surrounded by wild, wonderful scenery, with green forests, which mirror in the clear water. 42000 years ago, where the lake is today, there was a volcano, which would shatter the region furiously, named „Ciomatu” Massif. Saint Ann Lake represents a natural reservation, and many tourist trails connect it with Tusnad Baths.

Before descending into the volcano corrie, you can stop to have lunch at the Saint Ann Lake Chalet, a stylish Swiss-like building. Treat yourself with a few moments of rest here or in the clearing nearby. In summer, this plateau is crammed with bikers from all the corners of Europe and tourists fascinated by the beauties of the region, which come to camp and linger one night admiring the silence around a campfire and listening to guitar chords. Once you head for the lake, on a path that winds along a splendid beech forest, you see a sight where the sun and the green of the trees creates an aura of mystery.

The local people kept a legend that has to do with the name of the lake. The story goes that once upon a time there lived two brothers: one of them ruled over a fortress on the Sulphurous Peak, the other over a fortress situated on the place where the lake spreads today. The brother living on the mountaintop had a carriage, thus making the other brother envious, who found an unusual way of showing off and be above his brother – he harnessed eight of the most beautiful girls in the region at this carriage. As they couldn’t move the carriage, the tyrant became furious on them and started whipping them heavily. Ann, one of the poor girls, began to curse the man; instantly a storm started, thunders, strikes of lightning and earthquakes that tore the fortress down, catching the owner underneath the ruins. On the place of the construction, the clear and calm lake we know today, Lake Saint Ann was formed.

If you get so far in this region, hire a boat and enjoy the row on the lake. It is a tremendous opportunity to relax on the water surface, meanwhile admiring the beauty of the surrounding forests.

Saint Ann Lake


Saint Ann Lake


Saint Ann Lake

The Lake with Moss

At a small distance from the only volcanic lake in Romania, there is a former volcano. However, here the peat moss filled almost entirely the crater, leaving here and there small ponds. The soil resembles the quicksand, the areas covered with peat are not exactly solid; that is why, among the tress, a narrow wooden bridge was built, where you can step in single file, accompanied by the guide. The land lacking minerals was favorable for the development of rare plants, also poisonous, hallucinogen or carnivore species, among which the ‚sky dew’.

Saint Ann Lake


Saint Ann Lake

The entire region impresses the passer-by with the natural beauties, which cannot be equalized, situated in a space atropically uninfluenced. The show of the wild scenery creates a special, unseen place, which it is worth visiting whenever you feel like escaping the crowded and noisy cities. Although the Baths knew more prosperous times once as compared to what  they face today, the investments can give back the resort the glory of the passed times. The natural incontestable richness and the tourist potential must be exploited in such a way as to turn the resort Balvanyos-Saint Ann Lake into becoming the modern and attractive leisure, free time destination, which certainly will amaze the tourists and offer unforgettable memories.

Have a nice and safe trip to the wilderness of this unspoiled, untouched scenery !

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]