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Govora Baths - a brief history                                                                                         


The first step for the founding of the Govora Baths was the establishment of the thermal park, even before any urban settlement. The decision to set up a public utility resort on the Hinta Valley was taken in 1887. The ex-nihilo state of Govora Baths is a special condition in this case since the other Romanian thermal towns have developed within a pre-existing settlement. The resort was not previously planned, but it was based on what its promoters - the Romanian state - identified in the urban planning of the already famous resorts in the West as the essence of thermalism: the city-park principle.

The preference for French culture of the Romanian society and the direct involvement of I.C.Brătianu in Govora Baths development have resulted in choosing the French model of spa towns, such as Vittel, Vichy, Evian or Aix-les-Bains. In general, they pursued the same features of urban planning: focusing on the dominant landscape, concentrating the main activities in or around a central park, and building the thermal core from three main functions: the spa establishment, the grand-hotel, and the casino.

However, the villa was the most spread typology of building. By selling the lots around the park, the state hoped to attract people with money, intellectuals, doctors, senior officers, landowners, etc. which were willing to invest in beautiful, modern constructions with different facilities at Western standards. The aim was to determine the social elite to give up traveling to the western spa towns that had become fashionable.

The basic arrangements of the park and the average living conditions were far from enough - even if the resort had begun to attract more and more visitors, they belonged mostly to the middle class. Despite efforts, Govora was still underdeveloped in 1904; therefore, the Govora-Calimanesti Society was contracted to invest considerably and bring prestige to the resort. A first step was the urban development and construction of the Water and Electricity Plant in 1908 to ensure the supply of drinking water and also the pumping of thermal waters to the  Baths Establishment. But the investments that would definitely define the image of the park and the resort were the replacement of Hotel no. 2 with the Palace Hotel, reconstruction of the Spa Establishment according to the plans of the French architect Ernest Doneaud under Puklicky & Bratescu and the design of the park by the architect Ernest Pinard.


After defining the core of the Thermal Park, many owners of villas and hotels contributed to the beautification and development of the resort, forming around it the city itself with bristles, such as post office, town hall, church school, shops, restaurants, etc. This part of the resort gradually densified and expanded along the main artery as the number of tourists increased, but also as the resident population number grew. Although the area of ​​the settlement has increased and changed considerably, except for the first deposits, no other change has intervened in the configuration of the park so far and it remained a constant during the evolution of the city.

The evolution of the Govora baths can be ordered in four major stages:

I. 1879-1908 - Establishment of the resort;
II. 1908-1948 - Constitution of the city;
III. 1949-1989 - Densification of the city;
IV. 1990 - present - The decline and transition period of the resort.

 Radu Tîrcă and Ștefania Hîrleață are students at University of Architecture and Urbanism 'Ion Mincu', Bucharest. At present, they lead their theoretical research on the subject of thermal towns and diploma projects in Govora Baths under the guidance of Stefan Simion, Irina Tulbure and Ilinca Paun Constantinescu. As students, they won second prize and best student project in a BeeBreeders international architecture competition - Mango Vynil Hub, third prize in a Zeppelin national competition - Prototip pentru comunitate, as well as other mentions in other competitions. 
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