Lake Ursu Natural Reserve
The Lake Ursu Natural Reserve ( an area of 79 hectares) was established in 2001 for conservation and protection of the salt lakes and lush forests surrounding them , the flora, fauna and unique geological features of the reservation .
The coexistence of salt and lush vegetation is extremely rare – yet it is characteristic of the Sovata region . Quite curiously , the halophyte plants characteristic of salty soils are almost inexistent here . The meter-thich sedimentary deposit covering the salty stratums nourishes thick forests with lush vegetation , tall oaks , beeches , hornbeams etc.
There are seven country-wide protected plants that could be found in and around Sovata :
The fauna is also very rich in different species . Of the legally protected species in Romania the following can be found in Sovata : forest snake (Elaphe longissima) , the furious snake (Coluber jugularis) , copper snake (Coronella austriaca) , heather-cock/wood grouse (Tetrao urogallus) , black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix), white stork (Ciconia ciconia/alba) , eagle- owl (Bubo bubo) , barn-owl (Tyto alba guttata) , peregrine falcon/common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) , rock-eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) , imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) , raven (Corvus corax) , spider-catcher/ wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria ) , field fitchet (Mustela eversmanni ) , lynx (Lynx lynx) , brown bear (Ursus arctos ) etc.
Today there are five major salt lakes in Sovata - except from Lake Negru (the origin of which is linked to salt-mining) they all came into being as a result of complex salt karst phenomena .
The birth of Lake Ursu , the precious pearl of Sovata , is quite well documented - it started on 27th May 1875 and the complete formation of it took 6 years , by the end of which the shape of the lake became quite similar to an outspread bearskin , whence it was named Lake Ursu (Bear Lake ).
Lake Ursu lies in a dolina embosomed by dense forests , in a beautiful picturesque environment , 502 m above sea-level . Measuring 306 m in length and 182 m wide , its perimeter is 910 m , its surface being 40235 m2 . With an average depth of 6 m , at certain points its depth reaches over 18 m , its salt- concentration is 250 g/l on average .
The heliothermic feature of Lake Ursu was an a phenomenon that puzzled scientists for a long time, before chemist Kalecsinszky Sandor established a scientific explanation , based on thorough physical-chemical studies , experiments and measurements . The sweet water of two small brooks that flow into Lake Ursu form a 10-15 cm thick layer on top of the salt water . This freshwater layer behaves just like a huge magnifying glass – sunrays penetrating it warm up the underlying salt waters to a depth of 1,5 – 2 m . The freshwater layer also acts as a heat insulator , preventing salt water with a much higher density to rise to the surface and lose its accumulated heat in contact with cooler air.
During the summer months it is open for public use , its water and therapeutical mud are used at the therapeutical treatment bases all year long .
Lake Alunis is the twin-brother of Lake Ursu , situated at a distance of 60 m West of it. It came into being due to water flowing out of Lake Ursu that flooded a salt-pit situated 4 m below Lake Ursu . The surface of Lake Alunis is 3670 m2 , its greatest depth is 7,4 m . The temperature and salinity of its water is somewhat lower than that of Lake Ursu .
The Rosu and Verde Lakes are two small lakes in the immediate vicinity of Ursu lake. The overall surface area of Verde lake is 1050 m2 , its greatest depth 2,55 m . The small basin of the Rosu lake has been divided in two by collapsed earth . Its surface area is 215 m2 , its greatest depth barely exceeds 1 m . They are surrounded by trees and picturesque salt rocks , the green shade of trees being cast on the water surface .
Formed in the 1950’s , the Mierlei Lake is the youngest of all , with a surface area of 2200 m2 , and average depth of 1,5 m .
Lake Piroska is a sweet-water lake situated nearby Lake Ursu , formed in a dolina due to the accumulation of rainwater in it. The stratum of sediments is so thick here , that the accumulated water did not reach the salt underneath , hence its fresh-water character .
Negru Lake - is the oldest lake in Sovata , having athropogene origins . It formed in 1710 by the implosion of a salt-pit that resulted in a 6 m deep lake with a surface area of 3810 m2 . The greyish black mud deposited in it was of exceptional therapeutical value , that facilitated the cure of many people.
Sovata is a town of unique beauty, located in the Salt District of Transylvania (Romania) where turists and visitors are bedazzled by natural treasures as heliotermic salt lakes situated in picturesque dolines, salt and its carstic forms, flowery meadows with trickling streamlets, surrounded by century-old forests.
It is an internationally known health-resort and holiday destination, thanks to its curative salt lakes, most of all the famous Lake Ursu (Bear Lake), recommended for the medical treatment of gynecological, rheumatic, nervous and endocrine diseases, as well as treatment of post-traumatic problems.
Wooden villas abundant in floral motifs, that appear to be an organic part of the local environment – fine examples of the typical mountain architecture – along with modern establishments, excellent accomodation services and highly qualified personnel also recommend Sovata as a holiday destination.
I welcome you to the virtual world of Sovata, hoping information presented on this site will be helpful in getting a better insight into the past and present of Sovata, and attract you to experience the riches of the land and the hospitality of our people first hand.
Fülöp László Zsolt