The Salt Mine

A little while ago our dear friend Anda asked us, "Would you like to go to a salt mine?"

That was a question we had never been asked before. We said yes.

Prior to visiting we heard snippets of descriptions from various friends saying things like:

"It's a giant recreation center."

"There's a lake that you can row boats in."

It was difficult for us to grasp this new information - but isn't it a salt mine?

Saturday morning, excited and unsure of what we were about to walk into, we embarked to the salt mine. What we found was an unearthly environment unlike any place we had seen before. We felt like we had walked onto a sci-fi space ship, or an alien planet.

I will walk you through our journey, down into the mines, 50 stories underground. 

This is one of the two entrances to the mine. A rather fittingly UFO looking entrance, sitting in the midst of a foggy, marshy, and innocuous landscape.


Once you enter the front gate you walk down a long hallway and open a door. Immediately you can feel the air change - it smells different, and has a softer quality than the outside. Then you descend these stairs.


After the stairs you walk through a tremendous passageway (it runs for several kilometers), and begin to notice that the walls, ceiling, and floor are slick with mud and growing white salt crystals.


It's not until you get to this staircase however, that you see the salt in it's full glory, growing over and eating away at every surface.


At this level underground there is a "spa". We peeked into the rooms - modern glass and wood, fluorescent and utterly sanitized looking. The Spa is actually a clinic for halotherapy, a health practice that utilizes salt air to diminish respiratory problems. (Once again, it just made me think I was in a UFO).

At this point we made a turn and entered a low-ceilinged room covered in salt. Some of the salt had fallen on the ground into salt balls that looked just like fresh snow.


At the edge of this room was a high wall that you could peek over to stare 40 stories down the mine shaft to the underground lake.


Next we walked down another long hallway, coming to the edge of our descent down into the base of the mine. The patterns in the stone were hypnotizing, waves of blue, white, and grey that swirled around in smoke-like patterns.


At the end of this hall we got our first look down into the main "recreation area." Turda Salina, as this mine is named, has been fully functioning for nearly a thousand years, it first being recorded in 1075. In 1932 the mine closed and was reopened in 1992 as a recreation center and tourist attraction.

Recreation center? Yes, in the bottom of the mine, as you breath in the healthy salt air, you can row boats on underground lakes, go bowling, attend a concert, play ping-pong, or ride a ferris wheel. It's fairly breathtaking. As we descended we could hear the boom of the bowling balls, amplified and echoing through the caves until they sounded like an ominous rumble. Those of us who were Lord Of The Rings nerds (me and Anda), kept thinking to ourselves, "Drums...drums in the deep...They're coming!" (Yes, That was my 14 year old self geeking out a bit just now).

Instead of an orc or alien army we looked down on this, the recreation center.


Then we descended the staircase, doing our best not to slip and die on the steep salt-covered wooden steps. This is a section of the staircase we came down.


We walked around for a while at the bottom of mine. I buried my foot in the salt.


We admired the natural salt-cicle formations on the wall high above us.


Then we descended another 10 stories to the lake, in the middle of which is a large futuristic looking island that looks sort of like a spooky carnival (but maybe that's just me).


Over the bridge,


Looking out to the boats,


Where we rowed a boat on an salt lake 50 stories underground. Cross that one off the bucket list. (But add it first - I won't claim I would have thought of that one on my own).


The beautiful patterns in the stone.


That, my friends, was the Turda Salina, and I dare you to show me a stranger place you can ride a ferris wheel.


POST SCRIPT:

In response to the overwhelming amount of people who have asked the same burning question: "How did you get out?!" 

Never fear! We did not climb the stairs back up 50 stories, we took an elevator most of the way back up. We could have taken an elevator down rather than the stairs, but our friend and guide thought stairs would give us a more "authentic" experience. 

Thank you for your concern!