A thermal complex named after a legendary hero of great strength, Miklós Toldi, will be constructed in the city of Nagyszalonta (Salonta, Großsalontha). The 14th century hero inspired the most famous work of one of the greatest Hungarian poets, János Arany (1817–1882), the epic poem trilogy entitled “Toldi.” Arany, a poet, writer, translator and journalist, was born in Nagyszalonta, a small city located in Bihar County. As Nagyszalonta Mayor László Török recently told the maszol.ro news portal, the impact study of the planned thermal bath complex with an adventure pool and aquapark has been finalized, and the municipality has published on their official Facebook page a virtual presentation of the ambitious project.
The thermal aquapark is a huge investment project, and also a quality leap in terms of urban development, the mayor emphasized.
For years, it has been a cherished dream of the municipality of Nagyszalonta to build its own thermal complex. Also, for a long time, many people believed the idea was utopian and even downright meaningless, noting that one of Hungary’s most famous and most developed baths, the Castle Bath of Gyula is just on the other side of the Romanian-Hungarian border, just about thirty-five kilometers from Nagyszalonta. Moreover, the “capital” of Bihar County, the city of Nagyvárad (Oradea) has also recently built the largest thermal spa of the Partium region, the maszol.ro recounted. On the other hand, the people of Nagyszalonta visit in great numbers the much smaller and more modest baths located in the commune of Madarász, as this place right in the vicinity of Nagyszalonta, the mayor pointed out.
The exploitation of high-quality thermal water is nothing new in the southern parts of Bihar County, especially in the region of Nagyszalonta. For instance, the old greenhouses of the producer cooperatives created in the era of the Communist regime used to be heated with thermal water. Also, locals believe that the small spring called the Nádasér doesn’t ever freeze, not even during the coldest winters, as the thermal water keeps it warm.
The brainstorming on where to build the new thermal bath complex went on for several years, as a location had to be found where there was enough space to properly carry out the investment project and which was also easily accessible for the residents of the city. In the end, the municipality decided to use the vacant land stretching behind the city stadium. In addition to a football field, the Sándor Péter Sports Hall was previously been built in this area, and a swimming pool is just being constructed there by the County Council, said Mayor Török. He noted that the impact study for the thermal water baths and adventure pool is the result of months of hard work, and a number of bureaucratic obstacles had to be overcome, such as obtaining the permit for the municipality to drill its own thermal well. However, by now, the international tender is already underway for the drilling work, the mayor stressed.
The estimated value of the project is EUR 20 million, which far exceeds the financial capacities of the small town; however, the North-Western Development Region of European tenders has favorably assessed the application describing the idea. There is a real chance that the facility could be built with the help of European Union funds, Mayor Török said. He added that the preliminary application has received a green light from the regional development directorate, as it is an important project in terms of both economic and tourist development; it would not only create job opportunities for the locals, but could also be a significant source of income for the local council.
A total of nine pools are planned within the thermal complex. The facility would be self-sufficient in terms of its energy needs; the roof would have a 250-kilowatt solar battery park, and the thermal water used in the pools would also run through an energy conversion system, which will produce an additional 500 kilowatts of energy. The impact assessment has been completed, and the next step is fundraising. As the mayor noted, knowing the bureaucratic nature of the system, the municipality knows that numerous obstacles will have to be overcome, but they hope that having the technical plans in hand will allow them to make more specific requests to the financing authorities.
Mayor Török also told Maszrol that at the main entrance of the aquapark, the figures of Toldi and one of his great opponents, “the Czech knight,” would be awaiting visitors; wolves and bulls from the poem would also be portrayed inside. The main building has been designed with stylized reeds on the outside, referring to the site of the epic fight between Toldi and the wolves, but also to the fact that Nagyszalonta itself was established on a huge swamp with reeds.
Miklós Toldi was in fact a 14th century nobleman of legendary strength and valor, who served in the army of the Hungarian King Louis I (who was also known by the name Louis the Great). Toldi became extremely popular in folk culture after the first part of the epic poem was published in 1846. The “bard” of Toldi’s exceptional deeds himself was an extremely skilled poet, who is rightfully called by many “the Shakespeare of ballads.” János Arany wrote more than 100 ballads, which were translated into over 50 languages, including the Toldi trilogy.
Title image: The construction of a thermal bath complex has been a longtime dream of the municipality of Nagyszalonta. Illustration from the virtual video presentation.