The Post-Volcanic Manifestations (Airinei and Pricăjan (1972)) in this area resulted in numerous mineral water springs. Almost half of Romania’s mineral water resources are found in Szeklerland, this being the most important natural asset of the region. The locals call this miracle water borviz, in Hungarian, it literally translates to wine water. The name derived from the slightly acidic flavor of the drink. The springs are called borkút, meaning wine well. The taste and composition of wine water are determined by the mineral composition of the rock layers at the site of the gas breaks to the surface. Thus, the mineral waters of Szeklerland are extremely diverse, but one can find predominantly carbonated water, rich in bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, iron, sulfur ions or even slightly salty.
The CO2 appears also as “dry” emanations; these are the mofettes. High amounts of carbon dioxide emanate from the ground, whereby oxygen, nitrogen, water vapour and hydrogen sulfide gases also emerge. The name derives from the Latin mephitis, meaning “stinky evaporation”.
For the locals, since ancient times, the mineral water has been the most important beverage. The benefits of drinking these waters were always well known by the Szeklers. The first documents attesting the merchandising of the local waters (in different forms) date back to the 18th century. According to these documents the mineral water was used on one hand in the public baths and SPAs of the region, on the other hand as beverage and commodity product in the pharmaceutical industry. The water rich in minerals and chemical substances was – and still is – used to treat cardiovascular, locomotor, gastrointestinal and neurological diseases.
The heyday of public baths and SPAs in Transylvania was during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, in the 19th century. The most popular baths were Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad), Előpatak (Vâlcele), Bodok (Bodoc), Málnásfürdő (Malnaș-Băi), Bálványosfürdő (Băile Bálványos), Homoródfürdő (Băile Homorod), Maroshévíz (Toplița), Korond (Corund) and Szejkefürdő (Băile Seiche). During the Monarchy these places were the equivalent of a billionaire’s playground, being even compared to the well known SPAs like Gastein or Gleichenberg. The reputation of Szeklerland grew further with the bottled mineral water industry, Borsec being, even in the present days, the largest mineral-water “estate” (besides being a well-known bath).
Like the mineral waters, the mofettes also have therapeutic uses, suitable to cure cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ailments. The most famous mofettes are Pokolsár (the name meaning mudd of Hell) in Kovászna (Covasna), the Borsáros-láp in Csíkszentkirály (Sâncrăieni), Sântimbru-Băi with the Büdös (Stinky) Mofette, the Büdös-barlang (Stinky cave) in the Torjai Mountains, the largest “active” mofette in Europe, and the mofettes in Borszék (Borsec), Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad).
A legend tells the story of a tourist who, being a little tipsy from the local pálinka, sighted: “I cannot imagine how one can stay sober in a region where even the mineral water is called wine water.” This wine water could be a Szekler trademark only for its name, not to mention that Szeklerland is the royalty of mineral waters. The mineral waters and mofettes of the region are so unique and characteristic that they became the unique elements of the local culture and nature. It would be so nice if we could build the touristic brand of the region around these mineral waters and mofettes, organizing thematic trips, water tastings, baths, mofette festivals and contribute in this way to the region’s cultural, touristic and economic boost.