Apart from Dracula castle Transylvania is also known for its vast network of caves called Salina Turda that lays deep below its surface – a salt mine which now is open for public and is turned into subterranean history museum and amusement park. The mine is located in Durgău-Valea Sărată area of Turda, Romania.
Salt is the only rock humans can eat. Centuries ago it was considered as gold and not everyone was able to afford it. Salina Turda mine is one of the oldest salt mines in the world. Explosives were never used in this place, salt was mined by hand and machines. It had been operating since Roman Empire (the first time mentioned in 1075) until 1992 when the mine was closed due to low efficiency and income received from excavated salt. After the shutdown of the mine, some researchers have discovered that minter have improved breathing ability, due to good effect of salt caves. That led to the mine reopening for the tourists in 1992 as a subterranean health centre, famous for halotherapy that uses the ionized air, pressure and humidity to cure allergies and asthma. In 2010 the real potential of this place was discovered. Regional Cluj county council invested 6 mln. euros on mine renovation. Salina Turda turned into amazing underground theme park after implementation of such innovative project.
The journey to the park begins from the outside building located 400 feet below the surface, which resembles a science fiction outpost. The bottom of the mine contains almost alien-like structures made of timber and illuminated with suspended tube lights. The interior maintains steady 11-12 degrees Celsius and 80 percent humidity, completely devoid of any allergens and an almost absence of any bacteria, making a unique micro-climate. There are five main chambers inside the mine called Losif, Terezia, Rudolf, Gizela and Crivac. Each is supported by various rooms and smaller chambers used during its operational days. From each of these pits it is possible to see the hundreds of fluid layers of rock that have formed over incredibly long time spans, exposing their often times intricate formations and patterns. Salina Turda also has a lot of attractions in 260 by 130 foot space, like:
- A Ferris wheel, which has the most renowned feature allowing tourists to see the 1000 years old stalagmites;
- A mini-golf course;
- Ping pong;
- A bowling lanes;
- An underground lake with paddle boats;
- 180-seats amphitheatre that hosts concerts occasionally;
- A basketball court;
- And sports arena.
Even everything looks like something from the future or science fiction movie, the intervention hasn’t damaged the place. Moreover, some old mining equipment is left to guide the visitors through the mine.
Since its opening in 1992, Salina Turda has been visited by approximately 2 million Romanian and foreign tourists. There are many salt mines around the world, but no one is turned into an entertaining science fiction amusement park.