By Rachael Funk
Some of the world's greatest views aren't found at the top of a mountain or sailing toward the sea's horizon. Deep underground, the beauty of salt mines await discovery. Whether you are traveling for salt therapy, adventure, or just want to take in the majesty of a private world, these are some of the most beautiful salt mines in the world.
Cardona Salt Mountain
About 60 miles from Barcelona sits Cardona Salt Mountain, one of the largest geological formations of its kind. After the mine closed in the early 1990s, the excavation site was opened to tourists. Guests are supplied with hard hats and can descend into the interior of the mountain to see the salt formations and learn about the geology of this marvel. Choose between a regular, guided visit or the theatrical guided tour that follows sibling research duo, Carlota and Tomeu Bartomeu through the mountain on their quest to discover a new mineral.
Soligorsk Salt Mine
Opened in 1949, this mine was notable for its salt that contained high levels of potash (salts that contain water-soluble potassium). One of the five excavation chambers opened here in the last 50 years is still in use to collect minerals, but the rest have been transformed for halotherapy, or salt therapy. It is believed that the dry air charged with salt ions has a positive chemical effect on the respiratory system. Many patients who come here for treatment are children from the regions of affected by the Chernobyl disaster, but patients travel from countries like Russia, Japan, and Ukraine to receive treatments. The mine is only open to patients and staff in order to avoid disturbing the treatments.
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
Just outside of Bogota lies the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, built in 1932. This church built more than 200 yards underground receives nearly 3,000 visitors every Sunday. Though not officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a cathedral since it has no Bishop, it is still a place of pilgrimage for many visitors to the area. Guests can see exhibits, learn about mining, and take in the numerous sculptures in the mine.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Located in southern Poland, Wieliczka Salt Mine mine was opened back in the 13th century. Today, it is one of Poland’s historical monuments and includes dozens of salt sculptures, supplemental carvings from contemporary artists, and four chapels carved from salt by the miners. One part of the mine can even be reserved for weddings or other private functions.
Salina Turda Salt Mine
This gorgeous salt mine has been in existence since the 1200s, with massive renovations opened to the public in 2010. One of the oldest salt mines in the world, this one also holds an underground theme park. Inside, guests can visit the amphitheatre, ferris wheel, bowling alley, and an underground lake with paddle and rowboats.
Praid Salt Mine
One of Europe’s oldest salt mines, Praid Salt Mine is said to hold over three billion tons of salt. A vast collection of tunnels and chambers, people searching for halotherapy travel here to breathe the ionized air or take a dip in the salt spas. The mine has been customized for comfort and offers amenities such as restaurants, cafes, libraries, billiard tables, swimming pool, and more. In addition to the beauty of the mine, there is also a church with a chapel carved from the salt.
Sondershausen Salt Mine
Descend thousands of feet into the earth to take a boat ride in an underground salt lake or an unforgettable ride on a tunnel slide. Now known as an “adventure mine,” Sondershausen is now open for athletes and thrill seekers who are trained to take on the steep hills and dry air. Available for bike races and marathons, the mine also has a subterranean ballroom and concert hall.