Bălan (Balánbánya, Balan)

Not far from the Sandominic railway station, turning right on the narrow valley of the place where the Olt springs, at the foot of the Hasmasu Mare limestone range we can approach the 2 km long Balan town (12 km). The 125 county road leads from Balan to the Olt riverhead (the territory of Covacipeter) along the Balan water-basin, then to the Négyes motel in the vicinity of Gheorgheni. From here we can reach Hágótő, in the valley of the Putna by jeep along the valley of the Békény-stream (41 km; the road section between the 20 and 59 km marks was closed for the traffic.).

Balan is the northest settlement of Ciucul de Sus. Its name probably comes from the Balan-mountain. Since 1899 it belonged to Sandominic. Its meadows and forests were in the property of six villages of Ciucul de Sus. In 1954 it became an independent settlement of the Olt riverhead with town rank, urbanizing mining commune. Since February 1968 it has been one of the small towns of Harghita county. Today we can find one of the largest coppermine-centre of Romania here (pyrite and calgopyrite are exploited). On 1st January 1996 it had 10,115 inhabitants. The Piatra Singuratica and the Hasmasu limestone range can be approached from the town. The old commercial road passes on its territory along the ""csángó" road" Sandominic-Gálkút-Hidegség-Ghimes line) starting from Ciucul de Sus through Tulghes and Vatra Dornei to Suceava.

The core of the mining settlement was the coppermine and its close vicinity and the later town also stretched gradually "downward" 2 km long in the narrow valley of the Olt river. It has little arable land, it is mainly surrounded by hayfields, meadows and forests. Main parts of the small town: Balan Main street, the Kovács-stream valley, the Balan-stream and the Szék-stream.

Balan is situated 12 km far from Sandominic, 42 km from Miercurea-Ciuc. (it can be approached on the 12county road to Sandominic first - 31 km, then on the 125county road - 12 km). The 125 county road connects the town to the 12C (Gheorgheni-Lacu Rosu) country road.

Balan is situated at the riverhead of the Olt, at the southern foot of the Hasmasu Mare limestone range (1793 m) that deserved the name "Ciuc Alps". Its close environs is indicated by the highest peaks of the range from north to south: Piatra Singuratica (1648 m), the Öcsém-peak (1708 m), the Balan-mountain, the Irottkő (1376 m), Várbükk (1197 m), the Oltreze (1072 m) and the Feketerez (1481 m). The Olt river springs above the town. The region belongs to the mezozoic belt where a variety of the crystal slate can be met. The copper ore occurs epizonally in the Pyrite-calgopyrite lens. To the west the Várbükk, Revendika, then to the north of the Bánya-stream the range of the Balan-mountain can be seen. In the east, the area among the Simina-stream, the Kovács-stream and the Bodók-stream forms the foreground of the Hasmasu Mare. Grassy mountainsides and limestone plains are among the peaks. The mountaineous area between Lacu Rosu and Balan was declared national park (1990) because of its rare fauna and its landscape characteristics.