Visit: September 2018
abandoned buildings are his passion.
since many years the german photographer heiko probst has been touring trough europe to find them and preserve them in his pictures.
together with his wife, he experienced adventures, and was able to visit wonderful, historic buildings.
this journey brought them together to baile herculane.
a health resort with 5000 inhabitants situated in romania.
three amazing buildings await the explorers. the old casino, the neptun bath and the apollo bath.
"most of the time you spend in the search of the locations,
it is always a kind of gambling. you can drive thousands of miles,
nobody will tell you if the door is open for you"
countless hours and countless miles they spent together on their travels to the
"our visits are risky,
you never know what is hiding behind the walls", his wife
risky climbing, falling stairs, wild animals or homeless people. "we have already experienced a lot and also survived" they laugh.
in fact, after his research, he found a young romanian architect named oana chirilă. together with her team she started the herculane project. it fights for the preservation and reconstruction of a once so important and beautiful health resort.
Băile Herculane is the oldest bathing spa resort of Romania and also one of the oldest spas and bathing resorts of the world.
The spa activity began in this area in Antiquity, when the Romans discovered mineral springs. In the year 102 AD
Emperor Trajan begins the work on the foundations of today's Herculane resort.
The most prolific development and true progress of Herculane resort began in 1718, when Herculane Baths became part of the Habsburg Empire. In a first phase, the spa resort was developed through a clear directive from the medical sector, to be the main treatment base for soldiers, with limited access for the general public.
The opening of the resort to the general public is based on the schematic and architectural concept of Wilhelm Doderer, a recognised architect and urban designer of those times. Herculane Baths resort came to the attention of the public and for those who have visited it it has become an unforgettable place. Emperor Franz Joseph notes that Herculane Baths is "the most beautiful resort on the continent," and his wife, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, also known as Sissi, notes in her intimate diary that "Herculane Baths are a distinct and delightful presence".
An important and defining pillar of the Herculane Baths resort is the built heritage that resulted from a rich history.
It includes 74 objectives listed in the "Historical Monuments List Act of 2010".
Unfortunately, today Herculane Baths resort is the exponent of the degradation of the Romanian balneary heritage. Although there have been initiatives and attempts to revive this heritage over the last 10 – 15 years, they have not had the positive result that everyone was expecting. This is due to the inappropriate way of privatising the resort and the low interests of the so-called "investors", which have resulted in the numerous legal issues. All these factors have led to stopping the progress of the normal development of the resort, and therefore the inability to access national or international funds and the overall degradation of the resort.
Herculane Project was spontaneously born, from there desire to do something good and to change the course of events for Herculane. After a short visit, seeing Herculane's current state of the legacy, they decided that they should do something, otherwise all history, culture, myths and tradition will be lost forever. They have also been fascinated by the beauty and the resort’s power to be reborn through the centuries and they wanted to share all this in a way that could inspire people. They want to transfer there fascination to others.
They started with this special building, called Neptun Bath, because it was the first one they entered and they started an open collaboration with the local authorities. The building was built between 1883 and 1886 by Alpar Ignat at the order of the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef and served as a thermal and sulfur bath with a wide range of treatments offered.
As a first step in there project they have developed an emergency intervention project to stop the degradation of the building. Meanwhile, they began to build a relationship with locals to educate them on this issue and integrate them into this project. To do this, they started by organising an event in which they presented ourselves and our goals. They invited them to many open debates and listened to their wishes, trying to list out the positive results of each person involved.
"Our most important objective is to include the Architectural Heritage of Herculane Baths in the UNESCO heritage. This was started by initiating a campaign and a dialogue with various state authorities and members of various UNESCO committees abroad."
Herculane Baths is suffered from an almost incurable disease - the tangled property regime and legislation, which is also uncertain sometimes.
In the case of Neptun Baths, the building belongs to the BH City Hall, but the land belongs to two private investors who, although initially had given their consent for us to intervene, in the meantime, for various reasons, they changed their minds.
Herculane Project, of course, want to collaborate with all the parties involved, and they try to be the mediation channel and link in these issues, and hopefully they will soon reach a consensus again.
The lack of respect for the building is also a big problem.
Unfortunately, there are many places in which blind vandalism was visible.
Distraught doors, windows thrown in, sprayers.
For many tourists, this historic place seems to be an attraction in which to do whatever you
Even nature rioted. Nature is stronger than humans, she gets back what belongs to her. The roof construction is badly damaged and water penetrates the building through the open windows and the open roof.
The project has a difficult road ahead.
It's a fight like David versus Goliath.
A group of young people fell in love with the historical beauty of Hercules Bath
and fought to get it back on the list of the most beautiful health resorts in Europe.
I wish you all the best, and good luck. I've been to many "special" places, but no one impressed me like this.
I have tears in my eyes when I see with how much respect and enthusiasm you are working on this project.
Through my report I will try to reach people, to give you and your city the attention you deserve.
If there are Problems, many look away. You not. Thanks for that.