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[Enjoy Transylvania!] The first salt baths in Sovata

Sovata, one of the best-known thermal resorts in Romania, is situated in north-eastern Transylvania, in the eastern part of the Mureș county, 60 kilometres from the county seat – the municipality of Târgu-Mureș.

The balneary and therapeutic potential of Sovata is recognised nationally and abroad and it is one of the main elements that recommend the county as a tourist destination.

The waters of salty creeks and lakes were used for their benefits since before the 18th century.

Until the spring of 1875, the area of the present-day Lake Ursu (From urs, meaning bear) used to be a pasture in which the Toplița and Auriu creeks would flow. In time they eroded the soil and generated a sinkhole which then formed the lake shaped like a bear fur.

Water still erodes the salty lakebed, so the salinity of Lake Ursu widely varies, according to depth: 100 grams per litre between 0 and 2 metres, 220-330 grams per litre from 2 metres to the lakebed. The sweet water of Toplița and Auriu, with a lower specific density, stays on top of the salty water and acts as a one-way thermal insulator: allows sunlight to warm the lower water layers, but does not accumulated heat escape – a phenomenon known as heliothermy.

Lake Ursu is the largest salty heliothermic lake, covering 40,235 square meters and with a maximum depth of 18-19 metres.

In 1884, Sovata is officially recognised as a balneary resort and thermal spa.

Treatment facilities for rheumatologic and gynaecological benefits were built here as far back as the 1900s, near Lake Ursu and Lake Negru (In Romanian, Lacul NegruThe Black Lake). The resort later benefitted from major investment and in the 70s, five hotels and a new treatment facility were built.

After 2000 there was a flurry of requests to approve the construction of cottages, cabins and holiday residences – micro-zones appeared with small-capacity tourist accommodation, especially from the private sector.

2006 marked the beginning of a new wave of major investment: the rehabilitation of the urban roads of the resort and of pathways around the salty lakes, the expansion and rehabilitation of water and sewage networks.

(From the special edition of TB 86 – „ENJOY TRANSYLVANIA!” – May/June 2019)

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