Let's travel together #197 - Băile Termale Romane (Roman Thermal Baths)

Visiting the Thermal Baths from Geoagiu-Băi felt like stepping into a portal to a new world that ended centuries of years ago but which still manages to give you the feeling of following the footprints of our ancestors. And what better way to find out more about a country's past?

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While a week ago I presented a place that dates since the 13th century and there are rumours that the Fortess of Deva was raised on the remains of a Dacian settlement, today we jump a little further into the history of Transylvania, getting to a place that dates since the 2nd-3rd centuries and which is unique in the whole world.
The thermal complex located in Geoagiu-Băi from Hunedoara represents the ancient Germisara which was the most important spa resort that was frequented by the Romans located in this part of Romania.
While in the current times when you mention that you are going to a spa resort it feels like it's not an activity that can be afforded by anyone, back in the ancient times, the thermal baths were specially designed as a social activity for the Romans, that was part of everybody's daily routine coming with hygiene and relaxing functions.
By participating in this kind of social activity, people were encouraged to socialize with each other, meet new people and even planning businesses of all kinds, where all the Roman cities had at least one of these thermal baths.

All the thermal baths were coming with a well-structured plan composed of three different rooms:

  1. Caldarium - hot bathroom ;
  2. Tepidarium - warm bathroom ;
  3. Frigidarium - cold bathroom;

Occasionally (but not in all thermal baths) there were also sudatorium - steam bathrooms and laconicum - sauna rooms.

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While these kinds of bathrooms are quite frequently encountered during the 21st century, keep in mind that almost 18-19 centuries ago they were very rare and this is how only a few resisted during the passage of years, remembering the one from Pompei (Italy), but also the Roman Thermal Baths from Geoagiu-Băi (Romania) which is unique in the world even if it doesn't enjoy the same popularity as the other one.

There are quite a few thermal baths that can be found on the territory of Romania, but the one that has a lot more to offer than a few hot baths is Geoagiu-Băi which, unfortunately, it's also the most underrated one.
While a few years ago the resort represented a real point of interest for the tourists and not only, nowadays you can barely notice anyone on the streets other than those which are coming to either visit the Roman Thermal Baths or Cascada Clocota which we have seen two years ago.
Back to that time, we had no idea what gem rests just a few meters away from the waterfall (which is also very impressive), and actually found out about the Roman Thermal Baths only when I wrote the article about the waterfall and took a closer look on the map.
That was the moment when I said that it's a must to return to Geoagiu-Băi one day and also see the Roman Thermal Baths that represent a real treasure for the whole world.
We are talking about a place that dates for over 2000 years, which during the Roman Empire, the city used to be called Germisara representing a Dacian name that means hot spring.
However, you can still discover some springs through the resort from where you can take water at no cost depending on your needs. There are both hot and cold springs and next to each of them you will see a panel where are written the quality of the water.

All the guest houses, hotels and swimming pools are using these thermal springs for both treatment and recreation.

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What makes the Roman Thermal Baths really unique in the world is the way they have been organized and how the baths were arranged, talking about two phases how these were used, the main one being on the surface but which, with the passing of years was redesigned so it can be used both underground and at surface.

Not even the ancient town of Germisara was randomly discovered because it's located on the foothills of the southern side of the Metaliferi Mountains, a region that is well known for the healing properties of the thermal waters that can be found at any step through the resort.
Even the waterfall I mentioned before it's called Clocota because it comes from boiling springs and during the winter it's almost impossible to find it completely frozen due to the water which is constantly warm no matter how cold it's outside.
However, even though in the current name of the Thermal Baths you will only see the name of Dacians next to it, the name of Germisara is a Dacian one and it's the real proof that the baths existed long time before being found by Romans and most likely the Dacians knew about the special properties of the water that were considered a blessing for anyone who was taking a bath into them.
The total surface covered by Băile Termale Romane is of 90-95 meters and the place was turned into a real luxury settlement as soon as the Romans had it under domination, where during their existence there could be met some of the most famous personalities of that period.

Even if the thermal baths are dating for over two millennia, as soon as the Romans left, the thermal baths remained abandoned for a long while.

The scientists got to this place somewhere in the 16th century where after many diggings, there have been found numerous bronze and silver coins but also eight gold plates dedicated to the healing and protective Gods of thermal waters.
Another surprise for the scientists came when there was discovered a statue of the goddess Diana surrounded by more altars that were creating a sacred area, but also statues representing Asclepius and Hygeia, as well as the temple dedicated to the Nymphs.

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There are rumours saying that even the grand Atilla itself used to take baths in this place, but the Romans are the ones who built a network of canals, directing the water from the source to the pools located at the base of the hillock creating a small lake placed right into the center of the underground treasure that was considered a cult and sacred place.

The spring that creates the thermal baths is very rich in calcium and iron and its temperature is between 27-33°C due to the mezzo-thermal and oligometallic waters, which are recommended to be used in treatments of anaemia, allergies, chronic gastritis and even peripheral nervous system disorders.

During the antiquity, the Dacian city has also enjoyed some military actions of protecting the roads that were linking together two important historical regions, sheltering the "Numerus Singulariorum Britannicorum" Military Unit.
However, what really impresses me is that after almost 2000 years since the Roman Thermal Baths are dating, they still look almost the same, without being noticed any major changes in its structure, and if people are not curious about the formations unique in the world, they should visit this place at least for the history that rests here.
Not to mention about the water with curative effects which is changing people's lives daily, especially to the locals which are using the water for both washing and cooking.
Hence why, we can talk about two incredible experiences people can enjoy while making their steps into such a historical place, because the many people who got healed by different diseases while drinking or swimming in the thermal baths are the best answer to How powerful the healing effects of the springs are?, as well as the various archeological traces preserved over the centuries and the inscriptions made into the stone walls which played a major role on that time to share a message, which in the 21st century is nothing but just an uncommon text that can't be understood.

Personally, I consider all these aspects way more valuable than any gold or treasure found, because history is what keeps a city alive and the more you discover about how your ancestors used to live many centuries ago, the further you feel from reality. There is no doubt that our journeys that brought us to so many incredible locations, unique for Romania but also the world, started giving me the feeling of teleporting to different ages during our explorations, which is something that I would like to live day by day.

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Happily, the Roman Thermal Baths from Geoagiu-Băi were awarded in 2010, at Brussels, with the title of „Romania’s Excellence Tourist Destination”.

Nevertheless, personally, I wish there were more such awards because we are talking about a unique place in the world whose value is difficult to determine and without any doubt it deserves as many awards as possible to make it more appreciated and visited by people from all over the world.

However, keep in mind that there are no clear indications leading to the historical discovery and finding it might turn into a real challenge. At least this is what we felt after more than an hour we spent going up and down, going to the left and to the right, while using the map with the hope to find the Roman Thermal Baths.

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The full address of the thermal baths is Str. Germisara, Geoagiu-Băi, Hunedoara, Romania and it's located 5 km away from Geoagiu city.

If you come from the western side of the country, you have to either cross Deva or Alba Iulia, but the most accessible road is driving on the A1 highway until you reach Orăştie city which is located at the entrance to the resort where you will find your destination. From there, you need to find the Daco-Romans Baths which is surrounded by all kind of ancient statues, being located next to a park where you will find a little informative house with a man that will lead you to the entrance of the Roman baths.

From there you can either explore them from the top or by going underground through a small limestone portal. However, if you also wish to see them from the top, pay attention to the ground because we noticed quite a few holes into the structure of the land that might teleport you to the thermal baths in no time, lol.

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SEE YOU IN THE NEXT TRIP! 🗾

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