Salt mines probably don’t conjure awe-inspiring vistas or sounds like any place you’d want to visit on a vacation but Salina Turda, a salt mine located in Romania, has been consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful underground spots in the world and as one of the most amazing natural tourist destinations in the world.
Salina Turda’s history is an ancient one; the first known mention of the mine dates back to 1271 when the Hungarian chancellery issued a document that talked of Salina Turda specifically as a a salt mine. The mine is known to have consistently produced table salt from the Middle Ages through until 1932.
It was opened to tourists in 1992 and has since attracted almost 2 million visitors from all over the world. In 2010, it reopened after being closed for renovations which cost the city almost 6 million euros. There are five main mines to visit at Salina Turda, each with distinctive qualities and features.
Perhaps most popular mine in the Salina Turda system is the Crivac room. Inside, tourists will find a rudimentary device called a Crivac for lifting salt rocks to the surface that dates back to 1881 which replaced an even earlier version from 1864. It’s likely that this is the oldest in situ machine of its kind in any mine throughout Europe (thus why it’s such a draw for tourists!).
The Iosif Mine is called the “Echoes Room” because – you guessed it – it has a strong echo. It’s completely cut off from the other mines and has a conically shaped chamber which gives it its echoing capabilities. It’s 112 meters down and tourists can get a peek at the deep mine by the balconies that have been carved into the salt going downwards.
The Terezia mine is also conically shaped, giving it a bell shape. It’s one of the largest mines at Salina, clocking in at 90 miles high and 87 miles in diameter! There’s an underground lake, plentiful stalactites and salt efflorescences in this particular mine. The lake is almost a half mile deep and there’s even an island in the middle of it, formed from salt deposits over the years!
A bit smaller than the Terezia but still major is the Rudolf mine. It is 42 meters deep and 50 meters wide and is also the last fully functioning mine out of all at Salina Turda. There’s an elevator in the mine so that tourists can get a panoramic look at the mine from above.
Crystal Hall or the Gizela mine is probably the most glamorous of them all; the mine has a spa salt treatment room where tourists can go for halotherapy (aka salt therapy). This is the smallest mine out of them all because Salina Turda stopped being used completely soon after it was opened.
After the mines were all closed down, the mines were used for things like a bomb shelter and cheese storage. Now the mine has been transformed into an underground amusement part with a bowling alley, mini golf, ping pong, a Ferris wheel, amphitheater for events and paddle boats on the lake.
It has an otherworldly, sci-fi look to it — both with and without the amusement park — that makes it such a continually popular tourist destination. There is really nothing else like it on the planet!