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Sárospatak, Hungary

Tengerszem Nature Preserve

An industrial site turned into Hungary's most cherished natural wonder. 

In the mountains outside Sárospatak there was once a stone mine operation that employed many locals up until it was closed in 1907. After that, the mine was abandoned and left to be reclaimed by nature.

The industrial site was quickly grown over with dense foliage, and rainwater trickled down the mountainside to fill in the 210-foot deep gorge. Now the quarry looks like a fantasy location. The towering surrounding rock walls create a strange multi-segmented cavernous form. Walking trails along the cliffs make it a popular hiking spot, and offer lovely views of the pool below. From inside the gorge, the sky is framed by the forest fencing in the cliff paths.

The Tengerszem Mine was declared a nature reserve in the 1970s. Swimming is not recommended but that doesn’t seem to stop people. The mine is beloved enough that in 2011 Tengerszem Nature Reserve was declared most beautiful place in Hungary.

Know Before You Go

The site is about 5 km from Sarospatak. Way is well marked with signs. Part of it is forest footpath uphill.