Backed by the Mehedinți and Cerna mountains, Băile Herculane is a historic spa town in Romania’s south-west. It was here that a weary Hercules is said to have rested on the banks of the Cerna River, with centuries-old statues of the Roman god discovered during excavations. In 102 BC, Emperor Traian established the foundations of what would become Băile Herculane.
Things to do in Băile Herculane
In the heart of Băile Herculane is Hercules Square, which is framed by elegant buildings dating back to the 19th century. Of particular note are the columned Roman Catholic church and the 1838-built Venus Hotel. Exhibitions about the history of the spa town are housed within the Muzeul Băile Apollo. Hercules Square is named after a bronze statue of the Roman god cast in 1847 and was dedicated to the soldiers guarding the Austro-Hungarian borders.
Don’t miss the majestic Casino Herculane, which was built in an Austrian Baroque style in the 19th century. It once hosted dances and balls and provided a setting for the aristocracy to play roulette. In front of the building is a giant sequoia tree planted in 1864 that is protected as a natural monument.
Winding its way through Băile Herculane is the Cerna River, which is spanned by several historic bridges. Connecting Hercules Square and the Casino is the Stone Bridge with its marble statue of Hercules’ lover, Omphala. From the Red Bridge, you can easily access Vicol Park and the outdoor swimming pool of Strand Termal Versay.
Getting around Băile Herculane
Băile Herculane is around 2.5 hours’ drive from Timișoara and Timișoara Traian Vuia International Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe. Regular buses connect to Băile Herculane and the town is small enough to explore on foot.