Come closer, friends, we're just starting our journey to wonderful land of Transylvania...! Be prepared, get your coat, there's cold inside of mine!
Salt mine of Turda is situated around 30 miles from Cluj Napoca and it's really worths a visit! Let's history begins first, then follow me to tunnels... :)
Turda's salt deposit has been known and exploited by ancient times, but it was put into systematic operation of the deposit during the Roman conquest in Dacia. The Salt Mine is mentioned in official documents for the first time in 1271, when the mine was offered to the Transylvanian Catholic Church leaders.
In the Middle Ages, Turda was one of the biggest places of salt extraction in entire region. Towards the end of the 17 century and the beginning of the 18 century, the mining in Transylvania revigorates due to some initiatives of the Royal Court in Vienna (meant to encourage the economy of the province), so it is started to fall into decay after 1840, due to the growing competition with the salt mine in Ocna Mures. Turda Salt Mine ceased its activity in 1932. During the World War II the mine was used as an anti-aircraft shelter.
The salt was exploited in rooms of 17-34 m (56-112 feet) depth and 10-12 m (33-39 feet) width, disposed one near the other an separated by a safety consolidation. This system ensured a massive extraction of the salt, but it worked only in those areas where the salt was exploited near the surface. Salt was continuously extracted during the 6 and 9 century, along with other very useful minerals. The mineralogist Johann Fridwaldszky in his "Mineralogia Magnus Principatus Transilvaniae", published in 1767, stated a detailed presentation of the bell-shaped mining system as well as the evacuation by vertical transporter, and relates that the mine in Turda have five important wells.
The building of a new transportation gallery (Franz Jozef gallery) was decided in 1853, in order to facilitate the salt transportation to the surface. This gallery is 916,65 m lenght. At the same time, the Terezia well was modernized by adding two side rooms to it: Ghizela and Rudolf, the latest running the extraction of the salt. Throughout that time, prisoners were never used as workers. The salt was brought to the surface by other workers and small horses with a vertical mechanical transporter. The mines were lighted by candles and rush lights. Explosives were never used for exploitation nor mechanical equipment for cutting the salt.
The microclimate is characterized by yearly variations of the temperature between 11-12 C, an average humidity of 80% the air pressure is between 747-752 mm Hg and the air's moving speed between 0.02-0.7 m/sec. All these factors, the lack of pathogen bacterium and a moderate ionization of the air have their contribution to the wellknown benefic effect over the breathing apparatus.
Nowadays Romanian goverment is working on it to grow potential and tourists numbers there - for next year there will be a cultural and medical center deep underground with concerts and sport programmes. Until that you can see whole history of salt extractation with machines and equipments, Chapel of Miners with blue altar, salt stalactites and strange shadows on walls...do not miss it!
The mine entered the touristic circuit in 1992.
You can find the map here
1.The extraction well room - Iosif Mine - Contemporary Art Museum
2. Dress circle - Iosif Mine
3. The octogonal room
4. The extraction well room - Rudolf Mine
5. The appeal room - The Altar - The Rich men's Stair
6. Dress circle - Terezia Mine
7. Mina Rudolf
8. Stationary room - Ghizela Mine
9. Digger's room - Ghizela Mine
10. Slopped way out to the Salt Valley
11. Anton Mine
Photo credits: Aginger, Marian Mocanu, Radu Razvan Gheorghe.