Sovata – The pearl of the Salt Country in Transylvania
If you have never heard of Sovata, now it’s high time you became acquainted with this truly unique resort town of international importance, which is a popular holiday destination not only for Romanians, but also for visitors from all over Europe.
Sovata is located at a distance of 55 km from Sighisoara, at the Western foot of the Eastern Carpathians, and it is the center of the Salt Country of Transylvania. The town is considered relatively young: the first inhabitants were settled there at the end of the 16th century, but it only really started to prosper when Jozsef Veress, realizing the great value of saltine springs and sodium-chloride mineral water, built the first bathing establishments in 1872. Since then, the town became even more popular, and in the period after the First World War it was often visited even by the Romanian royal family. Today, Sovata is renowned for the healing and rehabilitating therapies it offers for numerous different health problems, such as infertility, kinetic and rheumatic diseases and also metabolic diseases.
Another attraction that makes Sovata everyone’s favourite holiday destination is Lake Ursu and the nature reserve area surrounding it. The name of the lake – meaning “bear” – originates from its shape, which is similar to an outspread bearskin. According to legend, a beautiful fairy queen fell in love with a shepherd boy, but upon seeing him with another girl, she casted a curse on him, which turned the boy and his sheep into stones. After this spiteful act, she roamed the forests alone as penance, and as the torn shreds of her white dress touched the ground, they transformed into flowers bedecking the mountainsides. She could never return into her castle, thus she cursed it too, and it sank into the ground, leaving a huge pit behind. As the fairy started crying, her tears fell into the hole, filling it up with salt water, and the hearth of her old house heated it from below. In reality, the lake came into being in 1875, as a result of a sequence of meteorological, hydrological and geological events. With its surface being 40 235 sqm and with an average depth of 10 m, Lake Ursu is the largest heliothermal lake in Europe. While the temperature of the surface is usually around 10-20 degrees Celsius, at 1,5 m it can reach even 40 -50 Cᵒ, and it gets warmer at the bottom. This is due to the different salt concentration of the layers, varying between 100-300 g/l, which lets you float or stand up in it without sinking. Basically, Lake Ursu is like a miniature sea among mountains, surrounded by unspoiled forests. If you think this sounds amazing, just wait until you see the rest of this extraordinary place! Besides Lake Ursu, there are 4 other salt lakes in the nature reservation (Alunis, Rosu, Verde and Mierlei Lakes) and two freshwater ones.
In 2015, Sovata completed a project called Salt Road, the aim of which was to modernize the tourism infrastructure and to improve the quality of tourism services. Visitors who want to discover the beauties of the nature reserve are now especially lucky: due to these investments, there are six ecological and educational trails and five gazebos constructed on the hills with resting areas, tables and benches. For those who are interested in the fauna and flora, there is a lot to explore, because 330 plant species have been identified there, 30 of which are considered rare in Romania and 6 protected, such as fritillaria or a rare lady’s-slipper orchid. Another curious fact worth mentioning is that even though usually salt and vegetation do not coexist, above the salty stratus there is a thick layer of clay soil which allows the existence of extremely rich vegetation (oaks, beeches, larches, black pines, hornbeams) and almost none of the typical halophyte plants can be found here. Regarding the fauna, there are more than 300 species, many of them protected. Those who want to throw themselves right into the wilderness can go on a backpacking adventure or a hiking tour and enjoy the spectacular view of the Gurghiu Mountains, after which they can treat themselves in one of the wellness and spa centers of the town. Finally, before you leave, you should definitely admire the beautiful Orthodox and Catholic churches not far from the lakes.
Often called as the “Pearl of the Salt Country of Transylvania”, Sovata attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year with its uniqueness. Whether you are a nature lover, a traveller, a person seeking treatment or simply someone yearning for a relaxing holiday in a seaside-like atmosphere, Sovata provides an unmissable travel experience.
Your Guide in Transylvania has been providing excellent travel and tourism services in Transylvania since 2010. We sell tourism packages for satisfying your historical or cultural exploration penchants. Our tourism facility is dedicated to offering you an experience of a lifetime and a taste of medieval era with our exclusive Transylvania touring packages. You can contact us any time throughout the year to fulfill your desire of reliving the past but in new-age, modernized and highly-facilitated manner. You can easily buy a tour package to visit this amazing Medieval Fortified Church in Biertan by contacting us on our official website. www.yourguideintransylvania.com
Text by Sugár Tímea
Photo Credit: Hurghis Vasile, Paul Arnfield, Danny Iacob, photorock, Claudio Cugini