baile herculane

back to the crumbly stuff …

băile herculane (the baths of hercules), in the southwest of romania, is a spa town whose roots as such stretch back to roman times. the town is known for thermal springs containing sulphur and other restorative minerals. we didn’t smell sulphur in the air during our visit, but i’m told the town can really reek of it on some days.

many of the prettiest buildings, which are now in various states of disrepair, date to the era of the austrian-hungarian empire – one bathhouse, for example, was built for empress elisabeth of austria.

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the bath itself is very deep, accessed only by a tunnel from the hotel across the street where the empress used to stay.

one of the largest former spa buildings was unsecured, so naturally i had to go in despite the posted sign warning people to keep out. what follows is too many photos of a building that has fallen apart.

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the bath house exterior and one of the pools
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private baths (what’s left of them)
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very long central hallways, with probably 80 private baths leading off the four sections

the biggest surprise was the fountain in the central hall, whose wallpaper and ceiling decorations were still largely intact:

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naturally, during the communist era, the authorities constructed a number of multi-storey concrete apartment buildings and hotels for workers’ holidays that perfectly maintained the historical architectural motifs of the town.

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