A very old Romanian folk tale summarises the importance of salt in daily life. It is said that an ancient king had three daughters. At some point he wanted to know how much they loved him. So he asked them. The oldest one answered that she loved him like honey. The middle one answered that she loved him like sugar. And last, but not least, the youngest one answered that she loved him like salt in food.
The king got upset by her answer and banished the youngest daughter. Long story short, this daughter met a prince and they wanted to get married. They invited all of the royal blood from nearby kingdoms, including the king that banished the bride.
During the big feast, all the food in front of the king was without salt. He was really mad, so he tried tasting from his neighbours’ food. It tasted great! So he called the cook to ask him why his food was so bland. Instead his daughter, the bride, came. She said “this is how much I loved you, father, like salt in food!”.
Simple story, great lesson.
Comming back to the Salt Mine
Turda Salt Mine is one of the most visited places in Romania. It has around 600 thousand visitors every year. The temperature inside is a constant 12 degrees Celsius all year round due to its dept of 111 metres underground. The shaft of the mine is 917 metres long and the highest open point of the bells is about 90 metres high.
It takes around 1 and a half hours to really visit this place. The mine has a lot of history and even if the first organised mass exploitation probably started after the Roman occupation, the local ancient Dacians would have used the salt resource back to the Neolithic era. After the Romans withdraw there aren’t any historical records until the 13th century, but it is unlikely the local residence didn’t continue mining it.
In 1271 the Mine appearers in a written document of the Hungarian Chancellery; here is the place where pure halite (salt rock) could be excavated. Because of the enormous quantity of salt on this deposit (spreading around 300 km) the town became well known across Europe. This demand gave place to a new job, salt cutters.
Turda Salt Mine – today
The Mine was reopened in 2010, using European Funds. It’s main use is halotherapy (especially breathing disorders), tourism and entertainment. There are 2 halls that are famous: the Echo Hall and the Crivac Hall.
The Echo hall was used for live concerts, recordings and videos. It is the biggest one in the Mine. In this place there is a playground, for spending quality time, and a concert area. Also, an underground lake can be of great interest; just imagine water in which you cannot drown (swimming is forbidden, but you can take a bout for a spin).
The Crivac hall is more history oriented. It has one of the last remaining pulley systems that predate modern day mining (a pendulum extraction system, that primarily used live horse power).
Apart from these mainstream usage, some old abandoned galleries are home to an old meat production procedure. The salted pork meat is somewhat a delicacy, great with a shot of local plum palinca.
Either going for sightseeing, for entertainment or for food, this place is great for anybody curios; for me, every time I go in a salt mine, I put my finger on the salt flowers, that are created because of the mixture of humidity and salt, and always feel the need to taste it. It’s great to emerge myself in this experience with all my senses. The salty taste, the strong smell, the strange forms, the echo of the sound, the feel of the salt flower under my hand, it makes for a great experience of now.
Did you know that…
At some point in human history, salt was one of the currencies in the world?
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