Staraya Russa Salt - Gastro Obscura
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Ritual & Medicinal

Staraya Russa Salt

Make like Dostoyevsky and restore yourself with this Russian mineral.

Whenever Fyodor Dostoyevsky needed to recharge, he would regain his strength with a soak in the mineral springs at Staraya Russa. Located in Russia’s western region of Novgorod, the town has been known for its rich salt resources since the 11th century. It must’ve made an impression: Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, takes place in a fictional town based on Staraya Russa.

Though the area’s industrial and tourist heyday has passed, salt still defines Staraya Russa. Its coat of arms bears a salt-boiling furnace, a salt-water fountain is one of its most popular landmarks, and residents still turn to the mineral for its curative properties. Besides being a soothing addition to baths, Staraya salt also contributes healthy amounts of potassium and magnesium to meals. Some Russians sprinkle the slightly yellow crystals on bread to help with gastritis, hypotension, and gallbladder problems. 

Fans describe the flaky, breadcrumb-like morsels as rich and tender. Don’t forget to savor them, as they’ll quickly dissolve on your tongue.

Need to Know

If you can't afford a stay in Staraya Russa's hydrotherapy spa, you can just stop by the Muravyevskiy Fountain, which spouts salt water. The small museum beside the landmark also features drinking fountains that dispense the mineral-enriched water.

Where to Try It
  • Founded in 1878, this is one of the last surviving hydrotherapy resorts in Russia. In addition to using local minerals in treatments, the spa also features a museum on the area's history.

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Contributed by
Sam OBrien
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