BAIA POPULARĂ IN THE PAST
In the place where Baia Populară Sibiu (the Sibiu Public Bath) now stands there used to be the first stearin candle factory in Transylvania, which opened in 1840.
After the factory was relocated on today’s Turnului street, Franz Frühbeck Sr. funded the city’s first steam baths in the 1840s.
In 1886, Johann Habermann bought the bath from Frühbeck’s heirs and proceeded to expand and modernise it. Habermann’s bath stood in Astra Park, in the place of today’s Children’s Hospital.
The idea to build a bath accessible to all in late 19th-century Sibiu belonged to Dr. Carl Wolff. The General Assembly of the Savings Bank (Hermannstädter Allgemeinen Sparkassa) took over the idea and supplied the means of execution out of its reserve funds.
The building, which is the creation of Munich Technical University architecture professor Karl Hocheder (1854-1917), stylistically combines baroque shapes with late 19th - early 20th century Jugendstil elements and is the city’s most representative building for that architectural style. Professor Karl Hocheder put one of his best assistants in charge of the construction work; his name was Hans Heckner and, together with master builder Gustav Mätz and his team, completed the construction so speedily that the inauguration could take place on December 11th, 1904.
In terms of architectonic structure, Baia Populară Sibiu is an almost faithful copy of the Müller Bath in Munich, as it is the work of the same architect.
At the time, no other Austrian-Hungarian city of the size of Sibiu possessed such an institution.
To its left, the bath had a pool that was 21 metres long and 9 metres wide, covered in sea-green sandstone tiles. To the right of the lobby there was the Roman-Irish sauna, unique in the country due to the complexity of its features: a 32-cabin sweating room, a wet sauna, a dry sauna, hot and cold alternation pools, showers, a massage area.
On the upper floor, there were 10 cabins with tubs and showers for washing, as well as 5 rooms for therapeutic baths: mud therapy with mud from Battaglia (Italy), electric-light baths, or the tub for galvanic electric current.
Most of these services are still available today.
The bath‘s increasing popularity convinced Dr. Carl Wolff to consider providing both treatment and accommodation facilities to patients from outside the city. That is how the sanatorium was born.
Stadtpark Sanatorium (inaugurated in 1906) and Baia Populară formed a sanatorium complex unique in Transylvania up until after the First World War.
The sanatorium building, constructed according to the plans of the same Professor Hocheder, was divided in two: one half hosted patients’ rooms and the home of the institution’s physician, while the other half consisted of rooms to let. The dining hall and reading room were partly located in that section of the building which connected the bath and sanatorium. After the inauguration of the sanatorium, the number of clients of Baia Populară rose to an average of 5000 a year, with patients coming from all over the country, as well as from Turkey and Germany.
BAIA POPULARĂ IN THE PAST