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Baile Herculane is one of the oldest spas in Europe. It was founded at the very beginning of the 2nd century by the Roman Emperor Trajan. They named it Ad Aquas Herculi Sacras and they built temples, baths and monuments dedicated to Hercules, Aesculap and Hygeia. During the Roman civilization, the spa became a major attraction for the aristocrats of the empire. After the Roman retreat which happened in the 3rd century, the spa continued to exist, although its splendor was not the same.
More than 1000 years later, in the 18th century, the Austrians conquered the region and took the renovation of the spa into their hands. They started to build roads, spa centers and monuments. The Austrian Baroque style brought back the fame of the spa. Once again, it became a popular tourist destination. After the Great War, the region ended up under the control of Romania and later, after the WWII, the Romanian communists continued to develop the spa by adding new communists hotels, thus destroying the beauty of the place.
The final blow came from the descendants of the communists, the so-called “democrats” who were nothing else but the communists from the second level of the Communist party. The beautiful buildings were sold for nothing by corrupt politicians, members of the former Communist Party, known as FSN, PSDR and now as PSD. The spa resisted against time, against the migrating tribes from the dark ages, against the wars. It seems that the corruption of PSD was the strongest blow Baile Herculane had ever received.
Today, many of its old Austrian buildings are just a pile of concrete, garbage and excrements. There is no happy ending to this story for the moment and nobody knows if these buildings will ever be saved. In the meantime, they remain a proof of corruption, incompetence, populism, all of them wrapped in a huge dose of cheap nationalism.
Below you have a few words about the buildings you’ll get to see in the gallery. The first picture represents the interior of the Apollo Bath, one of the first baths to be built during the Roman period. In the 18th century, it was rebuilt several times by the Austrians. The present shape dates back to 1846-66. It had three cooling pools, 32 treatment rooms and three swimming pools covered with red and white marble.
The next 13 pictures are taken in the famous Austrian Imperial Baths.They were built in the 19th century. Even today, perhaps not for a long time, they still boast Baroque and Gothic elements. The central part consists of a waiting room famous for its majestic interior fountain. Many famous people were treated here, the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) being among them.