As with many natural resources in Europe, the Romans were the first to the table. They began excavating Turda Salt Mine in the 2nd century and after the fall of the Roman Empire, other regional powers continued mining, picking away at the 3 billion tons of salt and creating the space for a massive underground world.
Turda Salt Mine, aside from its gigantic size, is fairly straight forward in its history. Explosives were never used to hollow the mine, and it was all done by hand or machine, making its size more impressive. One of the many halls of the mine measures a massive 260 by 130 feet with 160-foot ceilings.
After being abandoned in 1932, the mine reopened for tourists in 1992. Thanks to a $6 million renovation, the Salt Mine is now a large tourist draw for halotherapy, a treatment for allergies and asthma that uses the ionized air, pressure and humidity of the caves. The effects of salt caves were first discovered during a study of miners with improved breathing ability in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Along with the spa attraction inside the caves, some of the old mining equipment has been converted to lead visitors through on tours. One of the most prominent features is a panoramic wheel that lets tourists see the stalagmites that have formed over the cave’s 1000-year history. A small lake in the mine also offers the opportunity to paddle around the highly textured salt caves.
As the cave has grown in popularity over the last 20 years, it has attracted a number of high-profile visitors. Rumors have even circulated over the last few months that the new Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film will be shot heavily in the mine, with Turda acting as the new Batcave. On opening night, moviegoers should look for Turda Salt Mine’s characteristic old mining equipment and damp, cavernous surroundings.