Turda Salt Mine: An Underground World of Wonders

You may have visited spectacular salt mines before. However, with a panoramic wheel, an amphitheater, and mini-golf trails, Romania's Turda Salt Mine, 120m below the surface, is like no other. Upon stepping on the very first stairs you are instantly transported to another world, not outer space, but underground.

The Turda Salt Mine in Romania was ranked by Business Insider as among the "25 hidden gems around the world that are worth the trek." Photo: Ievgen Skrypko / stock.adobe.com

Meet the Franz Josef Gallery, your entrance to the underground. Measuring close to 1 kilometer, the winding tunnels lead you to the Joseph Mine, also known as the Echo Chamber. The conical-shaped mine gained its nickname due to the strong reverberation of sound, as the shape of the chamber allows sound to be repeated up to 20 times. Next door is the Crivac Chamber, which hosts Europe’s only preserved “horse mill” located in its original placement.

Turda: A cavern of wonders

Advancing, we reach the Extraction Shaft Chamber, the room where salt would travel close to 100 meters vertically, from the bottom of the mine all the way up to the Franz Josef Transport Gallery. And this bottom is where the adventure really begins. Rudolf Mine is next – and this is the place where the magic happens. Within the span of a few steps, (well, ok – stairs. 172 of them to be exact, aka the equivalent of 13 floors), we go from a still-functional salt mine to the heart of the mine, which now features an activity center modern resorts would dream of. (*For the faint of heart, no worries – there’s also an elevator).

What better way to enjoy a view of the 42-meter-deep chamber than by riding the only underground panoramic wheel in the world? And, of course, if you want to amaze your friends with your excellent mini-golf skills, Turda salt mine has you covered, too. The same goes if you want to challenge them to a game of handball, tennis, table tennis, billiards, or badminton; feel free to do so in any of the specially assigned sports fields. And for those of you that took the stairs, you can take a rest in the heated amphitheater seats and enjoy a show.

Hard to believe, but our journey goes on. Just a little bit lower we reach Theresa Mine where a salt waterfall and an underground lake wait for you to take a break and breath in the cleanest air in the entire salt mine. And after you’ve done that, you’re more than welcome to sail around the lake and around the island located in the center of it.

The royalty stairs and the altar in salt mine

Located in the Registry Chamber, the Staircase of the Rich takes its name after Emperor Franz Josef, the last Grand Prince of Transylvania and Emperor of Austria, who allegedly walked down these stairs. After that, no miner was allowed to use them again. This chamber also features an altar for prayer. Legend has it that one of the elderly workers felt the presence of God one morning and he saw the face of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in her arms on a salt wall.

Turda Salt Mine is truly sensational. But there is more than what meets the eye – literally. Preserving its mysteries and secrets, the salt mine hides between its walls a secret mine, the Anthony Mine, isolated from any other ones, and even from the public eye.

Naomi Gherman

Master student in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations at Babeș-Bolyai University, eager to share more about our world's most fascinating stories and people. Romania-based reader, writer and content creator with a strong interest in journalism, foreign languages and politics.

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