The Road to Ruins

Băile Herculane - A collection of hotels and baths that once made up an Austro-Hungarian thermal waters resort is being destroyed under the harsh weather of its surrounding mountains.

Erected between 1810 and 1906, following, in part, the plans of some illustrious architects of the former Empire, the buildings have been merely abandoned, in the last decades. Although they transitioned various ownerships, one thing stayed the same: the lack of investments and the lack of regard for their cultural value.

What aggravated their condition was their privatisation, signed twenty-two years ago, when they were sold to a company owned by a member of the political ruling party. Proving no interest in reviving these buildings – unanimously classified as historical monuments by the Romanian state – the new landlord kept them for a few years, then alienated them to all sorts of entrepreneurial figures. This large transfer of property is characterised as a sophisticated embezzlement scheme by the anti-organised crime Romanian prosecutors, who indicted everyone involved. Although an attempt to recover a prejudice incurred at the expense of the state, the unfolding trial, with its far reaching implications, draws these valuable buildings even deeper into decay.

As these cultural monuments are dramatically deteriorating, some similar ones, built by the same Austro-Hungarian administration on the current territory of Hungary, are fully functional and in a good state, with a few exceptions.


With 17 years of experience, he has written numerous articles about how public property was taken over by corrupt businessmen and influential politicians during the country's transition from communism to capitalism.

Tamás Bodoky is a Hungarian journalist and the founder and director of center for investigative journalism in Budapest.

Ionuț Stănescu
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  • Culture
€11.400,00 allocated on 22/12/2022
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Băile Herculane