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Sovata at Its Beginnings

Sovata resortThe history of Sovata town begins in 1578, when Prince Cristofor Bathory, voivode of Transylvania, mentions the name in 'Confirmatio Assecurationis Possessionis Zowatha', an act of privileges given to the keepers of the exploitations in Sovata. The population, which grew from 16 to 400 families throughout the course of two centuries, mainly worked in forest exploitation, agriculture and raising animals.

Even before the 18th century, the locals have used the waters of the rivers and salt lakes for baths. Later on, the small aristocracy built summer houses at the foot of the mountain. 'Gera', the first public bath in Sovata, started to function as a therapeutic bath in 1876. Soon, the town came to know an unimaginable ascension, its population tripled, and this led to Sovata being declared a bathing resort. Between 1875 and 1881 Lake Ursu was formed, after a land crashed and the water of two brooks accumulated in that gulf. The exploitation of natural resources was imperious, and hence, after World War II, Sovata became one of the most renowned and visited bathing resorts in Transylvania. Even the royal family visited Sovata, known for its salt baths, quite often. In 1952, Sovata became a town and shortly after hotels and a treatment bases were built, attracting more and more tourists. After the decline in the 90s, people have invested into chalets and summer houses, the roads were rehabilitated, and Sovata flourished as a resort.

Sovata, a Picturesque Town

SovataSovata presents itself as the most famous and picturesque spa resort in Transylvania. The lakes attract the most tourists, because of the treatments one can find here for different conditions, but the town also has tourist attractions worth visiting.

The Austrian Architecture

The richly ornamented wooden villas built at the beginning of the 20th century are the resort’s artistic and architectural patrimony. The Magistrates’ Villa maintains a classic, end of the 19th century, Austrian architecture. It was built at the beginning of the 1900s and it functioned as a training, rest and treatment center for the employees of the Ministry of Justice. After renovations it was called the Regional Center for the Professional Training of Magistrates, being located on the town’s main artery.

The Bernady Gyorgy Mememorial House was built in the same style in 1902, in memory of the mayor of Târgu MureÅŸ. It is situated between several housing facilities and is easily reached by tourists. Just ask for Trandafirilor Street!

Church in SovataNear the city hall, on the PrincipalÓ‘ Street, you should look for an old building: it is the Domokos Kazmer Cultural Center, the former House of Culture. Due to its special architecture, it was included in the List of Romanian Historical Monuments.


For your inner peace and introspection, there are discrete and architecturally harmonious churches in Sovata. The fresco paintings in the Adormirea Maicii Domnului Church and the uneven steeples are impressive. What is curious is that the entrance in the church is done from the west, and not the east, as is the case with Orthodox churches. The Reformed Church also stands out on the Main Street, but in fact, the edifice can be observed from a great distance due to its high steeple.

Green Oases in Sovata

In Sovata there are a few places especially designed for relaxation, where the greenery and the symphony of colors harmoniously combine with the fresh mountain air. You can choose between BÓ‘lcescu Park, where there is the bust of the Romanian revolutionist Nicolae BÓ‘lcescu, the City Hall Park, with a sculpted, wooden gate marking the entrance; and Petofi Park. But, in order to enjoy the chromatic of the fresh flowers even during the autumn we recommend you to visit all of them.

The Secrets of the Resort

Praid Salt MineSovata is situated at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by hills wooded with beeches, oaks, hornbeams, elms, chestnuts and fir trees, a real army of wooden soldiers to guard the resort. The high mountains, the forests and the salt lakes are the perfect destination for tourists looking to get some rest.

The Salt Giant

The much longed for quietness is only 10 km from Sovata, at the Salt Mountain in Praid. The giant deposit is a geological rarity, gathering in its 1,600 meter thickness approximately 3 billion tons of salt. Apart from the wonderful mountain sceneries you will admire here, you can also take advantage of the climate which is rich in aerosols and experience the therapeutic advantages of the salt lake baths.

Praid Salt MinePraid Salt Mine is one of the biggest salt mines in Europe. The first level is dedicated to tourists and it measures 1,300 meters in length, with treatment bases, entertainment spaces, a restaurant, an internet-café, and play spaces for children. There is also a chapel in the salt mine, where, from Wednesday to Friday services are held for the orthodox, catholic and reformed believers.  Inside, the temperature is at a constant 16 degrees Celsius no matter the season, a pleasant ambient for visiting the mine’s museum, where you will learn more about salt extraction methods, you will see the library and the wine gallery where you can taste all sorts of liquors.

The Beneficial Lakes

When you say Sovata, Romanians think of a song from the end of the 90s: ‘Sovata, where the ice cream is cold/ Where Nicu serves in the army' or ‘Sovata, where the girl is happy'. But the treatments here are famous all throughout Europe. The bath resort is open all seasons and it is a blessing for tourists because of its climate with cool summers and mild winters. At the treatment bases near Lake Ursu and Lake AluniÅŸ one can get treatment for gynecological, inflammatory and rheumatic conditions, endocrine disorders and cardiovascular diseases.

Therapy massageIn Sovata there is a series of sweet and salt lakes: AluniÅŸ, Verde, RoÅŸu, Negru, Mierlei, Paraschiva and Ursu. At the hot baths in Lakes Ursu and AluniÅŸ, patients can benefit from electrotherapy and hydrotherapy procedures, kinetotherapy and warm mud wraps. Besides Lake Ursu, all the others have smaller surfaces and are used for baths and mud treatments. The forest is mirrored in Lake Verde, and the green of the leaves is seen on the surface of the water. Lake Tivoli was formed in the place of a former swamp; it is near a forest and an adventure and zip line park which you don’t have to miss if you love adrenaline. Lakes Paraschiva and Mierlei are also accessible, quiet places to be enjoyed by the romantics, and if you are looking for adventure, you can walk along the numerous slopes up to Åžerpilor Lake.

The Tears of the Fairy. Lake Ursu

Ursu LakeThe legend says that in the forest near the resort there lived a beautiful fairy who one day fell in love with a Szekely shepherd. But the laws of the fairies did not allow her to meet with him, so every night she used to listen to his flute song. But she couldn’t resist too much, so she went down into the valley to meet the lad. She saw him kissing a girl and, blinded with fury, she turned him and his sheep into stones. Then, she left into the mountains, leaving behind a field of flowers rising from the remnants of her veil. The beautiful fairy cried so much, that from her tears grew a brook, then a lake. And so, Lake Ursu was born. It is said that the heat of the water comes from the bakestone in the fairy’s palace, which is at the bottom of the lake.

Lake Ursu is one of the biggest warm water, salt lakes in the world, unique in Europe. Its name comes from the view it offers if looked upon from the top: the shape of a bear’s fur. This lake gathers the advantages of thermal and salt lakes due to its heliothermic character. The very concentrated salt water accumulates the heat of the sun rays, which is protected by the layer of sweet water at the surface, so that during the summer, the temperature reaches 30-40 degrees Celsius. Enjoy the wonderful experience of a warm bath in the middle of the forest, in a lake which keeps you floating.  Not for very long though, for at 1 p.m. you will hear a siren letting you know you need to get out of the water for 2 hours, a period during which the lake catnaps.  

Explore Sovata - The Hill of the 14 Crosses

Ursu LakeIf you want to see Sovata during a hike, you can take a route which circles the lakes in the resort, also reaching the Salt Mountain. But in order to enjoy a truly amazing view, ask the locals about Kalvaria. This way, you will learn the legend of the 14 crosses descending from the chapel on the hill towards the highway. The story says that a hermit used to live here. He had raised the chapel by himself, but he suffered terribly because his religion did not allow him to get married and have children. And how much would he have enjoyed the beauties of Sovata if he had been surrounded by children! One day, tired of all this loneliness, the priest prayed to God in despair, and God granted his wish at the age of 70. The hermit found a basket with two crying children in front of the chapel and from then on, the old man prayed to live long enough to see his children grow. For every year of his life, the hermit vowed to plant a cross on the hill. As you might have guessed, the priest got to live 14 more years. The green hillock still keeps the legend and the resinous scent in its perfect stillness.

The Ceramic Village

From Sovata, there are trips to Praid, Corund, Câmpu CetÓ‘Å£ii, Odorheiu Secuiesc, CÓ‘limÓ‘neÅŸti, Rîmetea. 8 kilometers from Praid, you will discover a village which hides a lot of riches: Corund. The village is the initiator of pottery. It is said that the genuine cabbage rolls are cooked only in the Corund ceramic. The main street has turned into a real fair, permanently open. Every local sells handicraft items in front of his house: pots, ceramic dishes, cups, woolies, handicraft fabrics, wooden toys. You can purchase good quality items at accessible prices to always remind you of the people in Corund.

Sovata steam trainThe village hides two mineral water springs, low in sulphur but rich in iron. The water is mildly mineralized, perfect to quench your thirst. Don’t forget to ask the locals about the water mill, hidden in the yard of a villager, who turned his garden into a museum with a trout farm, old clay kilns and a reed house. End your journey with Dealul Mecilor (The Hill of the Snails), stone ruins covered with layers of fossils and many snail shells.


The steam train MocÓ‘niÅ£a came back on the rails and now travels the route Sovata-Câmpu CetÓ‘Å£ii. You will experience an agreeable journey on a narrow railway, in a picturesque mountainous region. MocÓ‘niÅ£a, a tourist attraction in itself, starts the daily journey in the Small Train Station in Sovata.  The ride lasts 1 hr 45 min round trip for a reasonable price, and the view will convince you it was worth it.

Have Fun at Sovata

Ceramic from SovataAt Sovata you can spend the evening with your friends round a campfire or you can experience sleeping in a hay bed. If you want to feel the magic of winter, exploring Sovata by horse drawn sleigh is the way to go. Encourage the little ones to discover Sovata by train ride; they will see the main attractions of the town accompanied by a tourist guide.

Be sure not to miss the Cabbage Rolls Festival in Praid, held yearly at the end of September. Enjoy the music, the dance and good cheers as well as the Romanian traditional music.

Each year in January, on the sky slopes of Sovata, people celebrate the Snow Festivities, a festival of games and contests for tourists on the tunes of the Hungarian brass band. Don’t forget to taste the tasty kurtos kalaks at the stands, the sweet specialty in the area.

Recently, on the CriÅŸul Repede, in the area of Sovata Bridge, the old Pontoon Bridge, a few swans have nested and even laid eggs. They have nested in the reed thicket, enlarged their family and settled here. Kindly observe their gracious swim.

You should visit the balnear resort Sovata if you are looking for a quiet and relaxing holiday, with entertainment in store for all ages. Relaxation is the key word in this town surrounded by forests and bathed in beneficial lakes.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]