Salina Turda – Not What You’re Thinking

Halfway between Targu Mures and Cluj-Napoca is a mind-blowing attraction called the Salina Turda. Turda is the nearest town and Salina means salt-works. You guessed it, it’s a salt mine converted into a tourist attraction! Or maybe you didn’t guess it?

I think most people simply drive to Salina Turda from either Targu Mures or Cluj-Napoca, but we don’t have a car. Bus there and back with two little kids wasn’t very appealing. We instead chose to travel to the nearby village of Turda ( 1.5 hours, around 7.5 lei per adult, small kids free) and stay in a hotel there.

We found a place on Booking.com that ticked all of our boxes ( sleeps 4, has kitchen(ette), budget price) and hopped on the bus. No problems getting there, warm welcome, off to the Turda children’s park!

Turda for the kids
Communist era apartment blocks surround the park.

The following day we hopped onto city bus number 17 ( 2 lei per adult, small kids free) and rode out to the mine. The entrance is a slick-looking dome in the middle of a field, complete with a sandwich-meat vending machine (?).

Turda machine
Never seen one of these before…

Down the Hole

Once you pay your monies to the lady ( 30 lei adults, 15 lei kids), down the mine you go. The temperature goes steadily downwards as you do. At the bottom the temperature is an alleged 10 deg. C (didn’t feel that cold to me).

Turda mine entrnce stairs
I don’t imagine the place was this well lit back in the day.

At the bottom is a loooong (almost 1 km!) passage connecting the various parts of the mine. They all go even deeper from there.

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The main attraction is the Rudolf mine which was the last mine to be exploited. It is also the biggest and the only chamber which is not conical. On your way in there’s a gallery that opens into the top of the adjacent Terezia mine.

Terezia Mine

Looking down into the Terezia is a little surreal. It’s deep and dark, which you’d expect in a mine. There’s a pretty good echo, and a lot of racket as people enjoy the pretty good echo. You get your first glimpse of the wavy, swirly pattern in the walls from the salt mixed in with the other minerals.

Looking down you see the underground lake with the salt island in the middle. There’s some interesting platforms with lots of lights built on it, and of course little yellow rowboats floating around.

Swirly crusty platforms
Everything is crusted with salt from the drips falling
Row row row your boat
When else are you going to row a boat on an underground lake?

What’s especially cool (to me) is that the Terezia mine and the Rudolf mine intersect so that you can look from one into the other and see the difference in shape, depth, design. Makes you think of Tolkien’s dwarven kingdoms.

Two mines connecting
Gothic arches got nothing on this

Rudolf Mine

The Rudolf mine is spectacular from the first glimpse. The stairs and elevator both descend from a catwalk that runs the circumference of the upper gallery, right below the roof. It’s a peculiar feeling to have the solid mineral ceiling practically grazing your head and the enormous void falling away under your feet.

Hanging gallery
The roof slopes downward until you can touch it

The catwalk is supported by 6 x 6 beams, but who knows how old they are and the air is about 85% humidity. Does the salt help preserve the wood? Who knows. Pretty big drop though.

Down you go into the mine, either by elevator or by stairs. The stairs have dates carved into the walls to show what depth they had dug by what year. It’s a long way down to go forward in time.

Going up the stairs takes you back in time.

When you get to the bottom, awe-inspiring and breath-taking becomes surreal and a little weird. There’s mini-golf, pool tables, 5 pin bowling, ping-pong, a kid’s playground, and a Ferris wheel!! Much of it costs money on top of the admission ticket, but when’s the next time you’ll be able to ride a Ferris wheel in the bottom of a salt mine?!

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Once you tire of the giant, amazing man-made cavern, or you’re just too dang cold, you can head up and see some other cool stuff.

The Crivac

The Crivac sounds like a monster from Star Wars and / or Trek but is actually just a big winch. But it’s a really big winch! Check it out.

All hail the Crivac!
Four teams of 2 horses turned this sucker.

This enormous winch hauled bags of salt up to the upper gallery where it could be hauled out of the mine in steel carts pulled by cute little girls.

Child labor
Get to work little girl!

It was really one of the most unexpected and interesting things we’ve done so far. Really worth a visit, and if you can’t make it all the way up to Turda, there are actually three re-purposed salt mines in Romania! One of them is not far from Bucharest and the airport, making lightning-quick salt mine visits a piece of cake.

 

Ian

I am a world-travelling, long distance runner previously disguised as a high-voltage engineer and now masquerading as a travel blogger.

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