Slanic Moldova, the spa town dubbed ‘the jewel in the tourist crown of Moldavia’ lies in a valley surrounded by beech and fir trees, at 530 meters height, at the foot of the Nemira Mountains, on the Slanic river, a Trotus tributary; the resort combines the scenic views with the healing water tradition and futurist projects that have the ecological criterion at their forefront, the town mayor Andrei Serban says.

The town is mentioned in documents as far back as in the 17th century, but its true natural wealth — the healing mineral springs — was discovered in 1801 by Mihalache Spiridon, a landlord from Trotus area who was hunting in the Nemira Mountains forests. He noticed water springing from between two stones, leaving a yellowish trace behind. Spiridon took a water sample and gave it to the chemists of the time to analyse it. They told him that the water discovered at Slanic had the same qualities as the one used in Western Europe ‘to heal illnesses’.

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On hearing of this miracle healing located not far from his landlord’s residence, Mihalache Spiridon tried to drive a way through the rugged forest to reach it. As he was engaged in this enterprise, he discovered yet other five springs that proved to have healing qualities. Meanwhile, other 14 springs were captured and arranged, containing extremely efficient carbonated, bicarbonate, slightly sulphurous, chlorine, salty, hyper-tonic, hypo-tonic waters if drank for a wide array of eating-system disorders or liver diseases, but also for degenerative and endocrine rheumatism, if used as bath.

Half a century later, people began settling at Slanic Moldova and the town flourished, particularly after analyses made in renowned European laboratories of the time revealed that the mineral waters discovered at Slanic compared to the mineral springs of Vichy, Spa or Aix la Chapelle in France or Czech Karlsbad.

The Slanic spring waters later got gold and silver medals at the International Balneology Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main, in 1881, the specialised Exhibition in Vienna in 1883 and a top recognition at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900. They all made the resort famous.

The fame of Slanic was even more boosted after the visit paid by King of Romania Carol I in 1891, who declared himself ‘a great admirer’ of the resort and by composer and violinist George Enescu giving his first public concert there in 1889, stunning the audience by his virtuoso violin playing at the tender age of eight.

The glitzy Racovita Hotel built in 1887 and displaying a baroque architecture specific of the mountain resorts that were famous in Europe at that time gave the starter signal to building villas and pavilions absolutely measuring up to those in Karlsbad. The hotel was used in World War One by the German troops as the command headquarters of the army stationed in the area, with the German commander staying at the splendid Rica villa, that can be admired even today, the same as Racovita Hotel; both buildings were turned to private hands after 1992, in the same way as most Slanic hotels, restaurants and villas.

Another highlight of the resort is the Casino, raised by Italian masters immediately after the end of the First World War. The beautiful building overlooking the Slanic Moldova Park had theatre and concert halls and ballrooms, besides the gambling rooms; it is currently rated group A of the historical monuments of a national and universal value, alongside Racovita Hotel.

After the nationalization from 1949, the resort becomes a popular destination for the masses. The communist authorities of the time were not keen to tend to the image of the old villas, which began deteriorating, as they preferred to raise new hotels designed in a proletariat-culture manner, bearing no particular feature to make them stand out or be in keeping with everything that had given the resort its urban shining style.

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The resort, however, had an even harsher plight after 1990, when everything seemed to head out towards ruin, by neglect and forgetfulness. Nevertheless, there came a moment of inspiration for the county authorities, who backed the privatisations starting in 1993. The result is that nothing has been built in Slanic Moldova in the last 20 years other than by respecting the architectural note of the inter-war buildings; the spring area as well as the town park have been thoroughly restored.

A project conducted over the last four years was the upgrading of the former Balneal Sanatorium building located in central Slanic Moldova, the modernised spaces of which offer quality services in the medical recuperation of adults and children, both by staying-in or coming to treatment every day, mainly for breathing pathology and liver-digestive diseases.

The spa treatment offered by Slanic Moldova Balneal Sanatorium is more efficient if associated with treatment prescribed by the general practitioners based on air therapy, mineral water therapy, mofetta therapy, therapeutic gas emissions having carbon dioxide concentrations of more than 70 percent used in vascular conditions as well as specific therapy in the Salt Mine at Targu-Ocna, located 18 kilometers from the resort. Slanic, moreover, offers accommodation to those coming to the resort for treatment or tourism. It also has five hotels, 14 villas and 16 guest-houses, a tourist compound and a camping site. The resort avails of adequate high-standard infrastructure for organising business meetings, symposiums and gatherings and training sessions which place it top of the relevant tourist destinations — an outstanding achievement for Moldavia and Bacau county.

Slanic Moldova is the venue of a large number of annual cultural-artistic events aimed at preserving, protecting and promoting the traditions, customs and arts&crafts. The County Traditional Song and Dance Festival as well as the Craftsmen’s Fair are organised every August, being attended by over 200 craftsmen and around 60 artists. Furthermore, over June-September every year, the town hall hosts the event called The Cultural Season of Slanic in the resort park, to promote the Moldavian traditions and values, with more than 80 traditional ensembles performing at the event.

On July 20-23 every year, when the Christian Orthodox Romanians celebrate the feast of Saint Elijah, the patron saint of Bacau, the Slanic Days Festival is held, an occasion to host important scientific meetings for the spa sector, tourism, literature and artistic photography and promote national artistic values or starting talents during outdoor shows that draw over 20,000 tourists and town locals. On December 29 the resort park hosts the annual Festival of Winter Traditions and Customs in Trotus Valley.

Thus, today’s resort is not only a place to heal those suffering from breathing or digestive diseases, but also a place where old-time buildings and green areas compete with the hotels and leisure areas built in the last ten years.

‘Slanic Moldova town hall was, is and will always be concerned with developing this area as much as possible, by accurately respecting the old-time air in accordance with the modern demands of tourism, particularly in the leisure area that had long been inexistent other than by the landscapes offered by nature and also in accordance with the demands of modern times as regards the town maintenance costs and the conservation of a sound environment of the air and water’, said Andrei Serban, the man who has been heading the town affairs for more than ten years.

He explains that one of the priorities is a complex environmental project, conducted in partnership with German town Rohr, aimed at turning the resort into an area almost completely benefiting from green energy by setting up a wind farm, implementing geo-thermal facilities to provide heating and hot tap water as well as setting up biogas facilities or solar panels that should produce power for the mini-cars aimed at the local tourism.

Architecture in the mineral water area, the rehabilitation of the capture of fresh water from drains, the upgrading and extension of the centralised waste water collection, transport and cleaning system are projects under way that together with the rehabilitation of the Slanic spring tributaries will complete a range of achievements to be finalised this year.

Hiking fans should visit the Slanic Gorges and Waterfalls, a trek dubbed ‘300 steps’ as well as hike on the marked trails through the Nemira Mountains, one of which takes the traveller to the Stephen the Great and Holy Monastery located on Mount Bolovanu, at 900 meters altitude, a two-hours’ walk from the resort.

The Slanic Gorges lie over 400 metres next to the paved road and are made up of huge rocks that go down smoothly on steps. The waterfall is part of the Slanic Gorges, which separate the Pufu mountain (on the left bank) and the Dobru mountain (on the right bank). The waterfall scenery is completed by the broadleaf forest on the banks. A footbridge built across the waterfall enables one to cross to the left bank of the river, to the concrete tile alley which runs up and down the river and gives the tourists the chance to have a very beautiful view of the waterfall and the gorges.

The ‘300 steps’ track is in fact a walk through the forests at the foot of the Dobru mountain, over the mineral water springs of Slanic Moldova and along the Slanic Gorges. Being meant for the tourists’ active relaxation, the ‘300 steps’ won’t need any special physical training or special gear for mountain climbing, all the more so as it starts and ends in the springs area. The steps (stairs), more or less than 300, are mostly stone steps, but here and there concrete steps fill in the gaps. The route through the wood is not difficult, and it is accessible both in the summer and in the winter. The walk will take 2.5-3 hours on average and it has areas offering panoramic views of the resort and the Nemira Mountains.

The Stephen the Great and Holy Monastery lies within 2.5 hours’ walk and it stands out among the county worship places by the fact the initiators and main financial supporters of the building were two Orthodox American citizens. The Roman and Bacau Bishop’s See gave its blessing to the setting up of the monastery as one of monks and drew up the required paperwork in 2000, when the building site opened. There is no certain information that there was any religious dwelling on the site in the old times. The monastery has a chapel, where services are held in all seasons. It is divided into the altar and nave and it has a closed porch on one side. The church altar screen is made of oak sculpted by masters on the Trotus Valley.

The tourists coming to the resort, among whom there are many from neighbouring Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, can go on trips by car or the local minibuses to Targu Ocna, to visit its Salt Mine and the swimming pools, the palaces of Prince Ghika at Comanesti and Doftana, Prince Stirbei Palace at Darmanesti or go to the scenic Uzului Valley, to the reservoir surrounded by over 1,500-meters high mountains.AGERPRES