Odorhei region

Praid (Parajd, Salzberg)

Praid is the natural centre of the Szekler 'Salt Country', one of the most important salt-mine places of the Carpathian Basin. 5 villages belong to the community today: Praid, Ocna de Jos, Ocna de Sus, Bucin and Békástanya. Praid is situated 8 km far from Sovata, 62 km from Targu-Mures, 38 from Odorheiu-Secuiesc and 51 km from Gheorgheni and it is the terminal of the railroad along the River Tarnava Mica built in 1915. The salt dome of Praid is the 'bread' of the locals. The development of the village is closely related to the salt mines. The old saying 'the people of Sóvidék base their future on salt' holds good even today. The large salt dome resembling some huge bread is a geological rarity in itself: in the "stomach" of the 1,600 m thick salt mass hides about 3 billion t salt that would provide for the entire population of the Earth for more than four decades. The salt-mine and salt-bath of Praid deserve their country-fame.

The salt-mine of Praid

The traveller coming from Sovata, after crossing the bridge over the Tarnava Mica, finds the entrance in the vicinity of the salt office. The second "new mine" was opened between 1976-81. From the surface entrance (480 m altitude) visitors and asthmatic patients are taken by bus along a 1,500 m tunnel down into 80 m depth, into the stomach of the salt dome. Salt exploitation is done at even deeper levels, the deepest one being 280 m under the entrance. At the eight levels of production salt is exploited in chambers with explosion. The distance between two levels is 25 m. The salt exploited here is greyish and of good quality. About 100 miners work in the mine, the daily product being almost 600 t.

The Praid salt-bath (mezothermal bath)

It is situated 200 m far from the entrance of the new salt mine, opposite the salt mill, to the south of the 13A highway. The bath receives its highly concentrated water also containing sulphate, calcium and lithium from a 2,000 m deep boring through iron pipes. The 1200 m2 open-air bath receives 46,000 l water of 46 grade C and gives good results in curing locomotory, gynecological and skin problems.

The Sóháta nature conservation area (salt-pass, salt-pits, salt rocks)

The Sóháta ('Saltback') extending over an area of 8 ha is a country and county geological protected area and it lies to the south-west of Praid. Its highest point is the Sóshegy (576 m). The actual geological nature conservation area consists of the sink-holes and dolinas of the 'salty mountain', the canyons of the Corund stream as well as the salt rocks furrowed by rainwater. (a) A Saltpass. Formed to the south of Praid, the saltpass is one of the most beautiful and interesting natural rarities of Transylvania. In the vicinity of the old salt-mine the Corund Stream breaks its way between the Sóháta (the hill containing the salt mass) and the Gyurkos (Corbul Mic). On sunny days, the glittering view of the salt rocks on the two sides of the pass enchant the visitors on their way towards Ocna de Sus. The red saltflower (Salicornea herbacea) indicates the nearby presence of salt around the pass. Beautiful salt caves have been created. (b) The salt-pit is also rich in bizarre salt-rocks and salt caves. Unfortunately, the pictoresque view offered by these strange formations is spoilt by the waste brought here. (c) On top of the Sóháta, above the salt mass, dolinas and funnels can be found as a result of the dips of underground hollows caused by the leaking waters. The northern side of the Sóháta has been populated by weekend houses recently.

Visiting the centre of the village

The Reformed Church was built on the left side of National Road 13B leading towards Gheorgheni, between 1790-96. Its basic area is 170 m2. The sanctuary has remained from the former Catholic church which was probably built in the 15th century. The fitment of the church had been finished by 1796. Although Praid had been affiliated to Ocna de Sus until 1669, some church must have stood there long before this date. There is an ethnographical exhibition (village museum) to be visited in the Praid culture centre, housing almost 2,000 local and regional objects and historic records. Tools used in salt exploitation, maquettes and photographs can be found here. In the organisation of the exhibition, especially in its part presenting mining here Lajos Szekeres, miner participated actively, with his collection of almost 700 objects. In the hall of the centre an exhibition of 27 paintings presenting the life of the people of Sóvidék painted by Lajos Páll of Corund can be seen here. The Catholic Church was built in 1800. The Catholics belonged to Sovata after the Reformation and celebrated masses in a chapel for lack of a separate church. By the end of the 18th century they had formed a parish but did not get the church back. They built a new chapel in 1784, then the church in 1800. The number of the Catholic population increased from 130 to 500 in 100 years. The majority of the miners was Catholic. In 1994 they satrted the building of a new Roman Catholic church that came to be finished in 1998. The „chapel on top of the Nyíres” may have been at a higher point, in the vicinity of the Roman Catholic cemetery, next to the stone cross erected in 1898 (András Sófalvi, 2001). The building of the former salt office (Str. Republicii nr. 269) was built at the beginning of the 19th century. Today it houses a dispensary. The Orthodox Church (Biserica Sfânta Treime) was built in 1929. Its founders were Izidor Popescu mine director, Ion Ghizeran theologian and N.I. Dimitraşcu stationmaster. The Lajos Áprily Memorial House was built in the vicinity of the sports ground and it was inaugurated on 19th October 1991. At the memorial exhibition, documents and objects related to the works of the poet can be seen.