What was once an enormous salt mine in turda, romania, has now been carefully renovated by the regional cluj county council into the world’s largest salt mining history museum. the salina turda salt mines were excavated in the 17th century, proving a crucial source for salt that brought the romans much wealth. today, the durgau lakes at the mine’s surface – responsible for much of the salt deposits in the area – are popular tourist attractions that guarantee a steady flow of visitors all year around. a trip down the vertical shafts that once transported thousands of tons of salt will slowly reveal the immense scale of the excavated earth, made blatantly clear upon reaching the very bottom of the mine which is covered in a sand-like layer of salt. almost borrowing a certain aesthetic from the deep sea, the bottom of the mine features almost alien structures made of timber members and illuminated with suspended tube lights. the interior maintains a steady 11-12 degrees celsius and 80 percent humidity, completely devoid of any allergens and an almost absence of any bacteria, making the unique micro-climate a destination for those suffering from allergic respiratory diseases.
The ground floor contains a series of recreational attractions made from restored equipment or with the same design expression. an amphitheater, sports arena, ferris wheel, mini golf course, and bowling lanes, amongst others, allow visitors to experience different aspects of the mine. boats may also be rented to tour the underground lake at the lowest point of the cavernous void. the museum actually includes three mines: the terezia mine reaches the deepest at 120 meters followed by the anton mine at 108 meters and the rudolf mine at 42 meters, supported by various rooms and smaller chambers used during its operational days. from each of these pits it is possible to see the hundreds of fluid layers of rock that have formed over incredibly long time spans, exposing their often times intricate formations and patterns. each of the structures are retrofitted into their various sites, responding to the subterranean topography carved out by hundreds of years of painstaking labor. circulation is dictated by naturally habitable paths that have preserved over the years. each small construct contains typically three elements: wood, metal, and artificial light. these materials create light skeletons that invoke the expression of the machinery once used and become points of interest without being visually impairing.