Turda Salt Mine and tips for spending a dog day on the Salt Flats
by Melinda Nagy
The small industrial town of Turda suddenly became a well know tourist destination after its salt mine was transformed into an amazing underground theme park. It is a must see site if you visit Romania, it is unique and spectacular, and also a fun and healthy way to spend here a few hours. Business Insider recommended the mine as one of the oldest and most beautiful salt mines in the world. If you are visiting during the summer you can spend the rest of the day bathing in the two salt lakes nearby, or if you fancy some wild swimming in places only locals know about it is well worth exploring the nearby Salt Flats.
Turda Salt Mine
I was born and raised in Turda, so for me the Turda Salt mine was always a mysterious, almost magical place, first of all because I could not see it as it was closed to the public until 1992. I knew it only from the stories of my grandmother who together with the whole family spent many days underground taking shelter during World War II. They were in the salt mine when the Russian troops arrived and dragged three male members of the family into the forced labor camps of Siberia.
Nowadays the salt mine has been converted into a magical underground amusement park. An elevator takes visitors down into the 120 meter deep Rudolph mine, where there is a ferries wheel taking visitors close to the salt stalactites hanging from the ceiling, ping pong tables, mini golf course and an amphitheater. From here one can descend deeper. On the bottom of Theresa mine there is an underground lake which looks almost surreal and where visitors can rent paddle boats.
The mine is a museum of salt mining. There is evidence of surface salt exploitation in the area since Roman times. The salt mine in its actual form dates back to the 17th century when underground exploitation began. Descending the stairs one can observe numbers carved into the walls representing the year in which the digging reached that level.
The mine also operates as a health resort the salty air being effective in various respiratory problems and rehabilitation therapies in internal diseases.
Practical tips for visiting Turda Salt Mine
How to get there: Turda is a 30 minutes’ drive from Cluj-Napca or you can take a bus to reach the town center. From here bus number 17 takes you to Salina Turda. However you can use the old entrance on Salinelor Street nr. 54 B (currently under repair) which is in the town, exit on the main entrance in Durgau and take the double decker back to town.
When to go: Turda Salt mine is open all year round from 9 am to 5 pm, last entry at 4 pm. During the summer season it can get very crowded, especially in weekends.
What to bring: The temperature inside is 12 degrees C all year round, so make sure you pack some warmer clothes in the summer season. You will also need comfortable shoes and water. The salty ground can be slippery in some places. Also to fully enjoy the breathtaking view and not queuing for the elevator it is better to descend on the old wooden stairs that are quite narrow. Pets and food is not allowed inside, so make sure you don’t go with an empty stomach, there are plenty of food stalls at the main entrance. There is no phone service underground.
Durgau Strand Treatment and Recreation
In Roman times salt was exploited on the surface. These mines collapsed and got filled with water forming many salty lakes in the area. Since the nineteenth century these lakes were used for their therapeutic effect, in 1840 dr. Joseph Hanko built the first spa. Because of the high content of sodium chloride the water of these lakes was used to treat rheumatic diseases, peripheral circulation and gynecological disorders.
The two lakes were modernized in the same time with the Salt Mine, having all kinds of beach facilities, showers, beach chairs, bar.
Practical tips for visiting Durgau Strand
How to get there: The lakes are a two minutes’ walk from the main entrance of Turda Salt Mine.
When to go: Durgau Strand is open throughout the summer, from 9 am to 9 pm.
What to bring: Beach towels and swimming suit.
Lake Tarzan and free mud masks
If you are visiting during the summer and fancy a free day at the beach there are many other water filled quarries in the area, the biggest being Lake Tarzan or ‘The Bottomless Lake” as locals call it. The legend says that an oxen pulled cart carrying a whole wedding party and the bride’s dowry drowned in the lake and nothing has been recovered.
Despite of the legend the lake is a favorite bathing place for locals during dog days.
Close to the lake on the salt flats of Turda one can spot a strange spectacle: people covered in black mud from head to toe. Elderly people from the small town spend their whole summer here covering themselves with the mud that is thought to have healing powers, dry in the sun and then bathe in the water filled salt quarries. They say the mud has the same effects as the mud from the Dead Sea, good for the bones and good for the skin, and benefits of the treatment are felt throughout the winter.
Practical tips for visiting Lake Tarzan
How to get there: The lake is a ten minutes’ drive from Turda Salt Mine or you can take bus number 15B from Turda center. GPS coordinates: 46.5742639,23.809274722222224
When to go: The lake can get crowded with locals on hot summer weekends, but if you go during the week there is a good chance you have the whole place for yourself.
What to bring: Remember that this is not an organized beach, so bring your own snacks and drinks for the day. You won’t need umbrellas though; the lake is surrounded by trees.