The Hercules’s Baths touristic area is the “emblem” of tourism in Banat and the region known for its well-known spa resort Herculane’s Baths and the “Domogled – Cerna Valley” National Park.
Herculane’s Baths is the oldest resort in Romania and from the South-eastern Europe, being documentarily attested in 153 AD. The attestation act of the resort is an inscription engraved on a white limestone altar and is preserved in the Resort’s Museum. In its over 1860 years, the resort had its times of peak and decay. For almost two millennia, Herculane’s Baths Resort on the Cerna River brings prestige in the world to its thermal springs and his hero Hercules.
Although it is located at an altitude of 168 m, Herculane’s Baths has ionized air, just like at an altitude of 1500-2000 meters, comparable to the air from the Swiss Alps in Davos or from the Niagara Falls. This negative ionized air (between 2000 and 6400 negative ions per cm²) is generated by the 20 mineral springs, by the Cerna waterfall, but especially by the beech forests, black pine and fern vegetation from the area.
The Herculane’s Baths was visited by great personalities, including the Emperor Joseph the Second, Emperor Francis the First and Empress Charlotte, Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth, Charles the First of Romania, Charles the Second and the Prince Mihai, or by the Romanian writers such as Vasile Alecsandri, Lucian Blaga, Ion Minulescu, George Coşbuc, Nicolae Iorga, Mihail Sadoveanu, Ionel Teodoreanu, Liviu Rebreanu, Grigore Vieru and Adrian Paunescu.
The Domogled – Cerna Valley National Park is a true botanical garden in the middle of nature. Domogled Mountain, rising almost vertically above the resort, offers a spectacular view from place to place of the black pine islands of Banat.
The Cerna Valley is the most beautiful and “old” valley in Romania. It is the only corner of nature where plants and animals are originated from past geological epochs. The Cerna River carries on its line, from its springs up to the confluence with the Danube, unspoilt beauties and unique wonders that make themselves known only to the indefatigable traveller, who knows how to look for them and how to appreciate them.
E 70 (DN6): Timişoara – Herculane’s Baths, railway station (175 km) and center (182 km)
E 70 (DN6): Orşova – Herculane’s Baths, railway station (15 km) and center (22 km)
DN 67D: Baia de Aramă – Herculane’s Baths, center (61 km) and train station (68 km)
In this area, you can visit 10 touristic sights of great attractiveness:
1. The Roman Imperial Baths from the Roman Hotel from Herculane’s Baths Resort;
2. The Austrian Imperial Baths and the historical centre of Herculane’s Baths with the Statue of Hercules, Elisabeth’s Villa, Domogled Water Spring with plain water and the thermal springs, as well as the secular trees in the Dendrological Central Park of the resort: Welligtonia Gigantea and Tisa placed for over 100 years in front of the former building of the Herculane’s Baths Casino;
3. The “Nicolae Cerna” Museum of the resort in the former building of the Casino in Herculane’s Baths;
4. The Roman road Dierna (Orşova) – Tibiscum (Jupa Caransebeş) with the vestiges of the Roman fortress Ad Mediam, at Mehadia. The name comes from the fact that the settlement was situated halfway between Drobeta (Turnu Severin) and Tibiscum (Caransebes-Jupa);
5. The Modern Thermal Baths and the modern centre of Herculane’s Baths with the Vicol Park, where the Festival of Banat’s Slivovitz is, the Banat Black Pine Festival and the “Hercules” International Folklore Festival are held annually;
6. The baroque-style railway station of the Herculane’s Bath Resort;
7. The Domogled Mountain and the Cerna Valley with the artificial lakes Iovanu and Prisaca and the “Seven Hot Springs”;
8. The “Domogled-Cerna Valley” National Park, where you can see: Adam’s cave (160m) with flexible stalactites and stalagmites, unique in the world, the Outlaws’ Cave (143m) with traces of the Palaeolithic, the Steam Cave at 52-560 m, from which hot steams of 52-56⁰ come out, the Corcoaia Gorges (300 m) having the shape of a tunnel, and the Banat Black Pine from the Domogled Reserve, with its umbrella-shaped crown;
9. The Banat sphinx at Topleţ, the rock whose profile resembles to the famous Egyptian sphinx;
10. The Monastery of Herculane’s Baths, the Belvedere Villa, and the Roman Catholic Church to the north, respectively the Orthodox-Romanian Church to the south, delimiting the historical centre of the resort.
Everything that is exquisite in the Mountainous Banat, from the nature’s beautiful landscapes to the man-made architectural wonders, the Herculane’s Baths Resort “reunites and enjoys a millenary fame dating back to the roots of Greek mythology“, according to the fascinated statement of the famous Member of the Romanian Academy, Constantin Bălăceanu-Stolnici. [Bălteanu D, 2007].
The Herculane’s Baths, the oldest and most beautiful spa resort from the South-eastern Europe, with the wonderful Cerna Valley, is the “queen” of the Banat tourism, even though from time to time the resort wears the Cinderella’s shoes.
The Herculane’s Baths Resort remains the place where tourists can cure their pains with the help of its healing waters. Simple or radioactive, cold or hot, the mineral waters of Herculane’s Baths have been known since ancient times for their miraculous effects. Today, these “health springs” are the ideal therapy for the body and soul.
Today the resort does not look good from the architectural point of view, but its aspect will soon be improved by a long-awaited and very much-needed restoration. Old buildings will have to be very well restored and to look like they were finished the day before. Although it is a well-known and well-visited resort, its name has always created various interpretations. The tourist curiosity can be raised by the name of Ad Mediam, deriving from the fact that the baths were situated halfway between the Drobeta Roman Camp and Ad Pannonios (Domasnea) Roman Camp, furthermore the first name of the resort was AD AQUAS HERCULI SACRAS AD MEDIAM (The sacred waters of Hercules from Ad Mediam).
The Herculane’s Baths Resort is situated on the Cerna River, near the exit of the river from the narrow Cerna Valley, bordered to the east by the impressive steep slopes of the Domogled Mountains and to the west by the Mehadia Ridge with the Coronini, Doda and Ciornici peaks.
The Herculane’s Baths can be reached from three directions. By car (E 70) or by train from Timişoara (175 km) or from Drobeta Turnu Severin (41 km) till the Herculane’s Baths’ railway station. From the station to the centre of the resort, the existing 7 km can be taken by the local minibuses and taxis, 24 hours a day, available to travellers.
By car, from Baia de Aramă, you can take the DN 67D national road, along the Cerna Valley, to the centre of the resort (61 km). This road facilitates the direct access of the tourists from Oltenia to Herculane’s Baths.
From Europe (via Vienna) you can arrive to the “Traian Vuia” airport in Timisoara or taking the boat on the Danube you can get to Drobeta Turnu Severin.
The main access road to Herculane’s Baths Resort is the European E70 (DN 6) on the Timis-Cerna Passage, built on the track of the Roman road Dierna-Tibiscum.
The past and the present intertwine all the way at Herculane Resort, giving shapes and shadows to former times. Therefore, we suggest you to make a tour of the resort by taking a walk on:
Touristic route no. 7: The road of Herculane’s Baths resort
The tour of the resort in the form of a touristic circuit it is based on the model proposed by Stefan Negrea and Gheorghe Jurma [Negrea S., Jurma G., 2004]. It can be made on foot or by open-top buses, the distances are not long at all, and the possibilities for refuge in case of unfavourable weather are present all along the way.
The starting point is the Roman Hotel, located right on the place of origin of the Herculane’s Baths resort, situated in a superb setting, between the rocky slope and the Cerna River. The modern construction of the ten-storey hotel occupies all the space between the mountain and the water and that’s why the road passes under the building, among the rows of the concrete supporting columns. From the highway you can see on the Roman brick wall, included in the right wing of the hotel, the inscription “THERMAE HERCULI“, a testimony of the Roman Baths.
The attestation of the resort is a votive inscription engraved on a white limestone altar from 153 AD, which is located in the “Nicolae Cena” Museum of the resort:
“The gods and the divinities of the waters Ulpius Secundinus, Marius Valens, Pomparius Haemus, Iulius Carus, Valeriu Valens, sent as Roman delegates to assist in the election of Severianus as consul, returning unharmed, raised this proffered gratitude.“
The names mentioned in the inscription belong to the five leading Dacian citizens sent to Rome, in the name of the province, as its representatives, to participate in the election of Sedatius Severianus as consul in the year 153. Returning to Dacia in good health, they visited the Hercules thermals in the Cerna Valley to thank the gods by raising an altar with the mentioned inscription.