Journey into the Past

The Story of Salt Exploitations

It is said that the first pages of the story of Turda Salt Mine were written during the Roman occupation of Dacia, when the city bore the Latin name of Potaissa, together with the beginnings of systematic mining for the exploitation of iron, polymetallic ores, gold, silver, and salt in Transylvania. Salt exploitation in the Roman era is probable, but there is no clear evidence of this activity. It is possible that the great mediaeval and modern exploitations (until the first third of the 20th century) and the collapsing of the vaults in the old salt mines, followed by the appearance of salt lakes have destroyed the traces of ancient exploitations.

Thus, we consider that the beginnings of salt mining, as defined at present, are located in time around the 11th–13th centuries.

In 1075, the Hungarian chancellery, in a document referring to Transylvania, also mentions about the salt mine borders “at the fortress that is called Turda, in the place that in Hungarian is called Aranyas, and in Latin Aureus“. At that time, the Turda fortress had the role of defending these resources, being considered strategic.

However, the first document that explicitly speaks of the existence of a salt exploitation in Turda dates back to 1 May 1271, being issued by the Hungarian chancellery. Through the mentioned document, the Transylvanian Chapter was given the “salt mine of Turda”. Later, both the chapter in Strigoniu and the one in Alba Iulia and the bishop of Transylvania obtained privileges for using the salt from the mine of Turda.

The documents also speak about the importance of Turda Salt Mine as the main supply source in the region.

In 1075, the Hungarian chancellery, in a document referring to Transylvania, also mentions about the salt mine borders “at the fortress that is called Turda, in the place that in Hungarian is called Aranyas, and in Latin Aureus“. At that time, the Turda fortress had the role of defending these resources, being considered strategic.

However, the first document that explicitly speaks of the existence of a salt exploitation in Turda dates back to 1 May 1271, being issued by the Hungarian chancellery. Through the mentioned document, the Transylvanian Chapter was given the “salt mine of Turda”. Later, both the chapter in Strigoniu and the one in Alba Iulia and the bishop of Transylvania obtained privileges for using the salt from the mine of Turda.

The documents also speak about the importance of Turda Salt Mine as the main supply source in the region.

In 1867, mineralogist Johann Fridwaldsky stated that “these salt mines are worthy of the greatest admiration and curiosity”, being “so famous that they are almost not equalled in the whole east”.

It is said that in Turda Salt Mine the salt was exploited only by free people. The miners were employed for a period of one year, on January 7th.

The salary was 12 florins per year. The salt

cutters would also receive a common gift on the four holidays (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and All Saints’ Day), a wine barrel, an ox, and 100 loaves of bread. Sometimes the ox would be redeemed with 4 florins, and bread with two florins.

The Story of the Reduction of Mining Activities

In its beginnings, Turda Salt Mine was one of the most important salt mines in Transylvania, the main source of supply in the region. Starting with 1840, due to the social and economic conditions, salt exploitation in Turda Salt Mine is reduced, and the role of coordinator of the salt exploitation activities is taken over by Mureş Salt Mine.

After the First World War, salt exploitation becomes a state monopoly. This, together with the reduction of the exploitation productivity, led to the closure of mining activities in Turda Salt Mine in 1932.

After closing, Turda Salt Mine enters a period of forgetfulness until during World War II, when it is used by the city’s population as an air raid shelter. Since then, the purpose of the Salt Mine has been to protect, to fulfil its beneficial role for the community. It has always been an important part of community life, providing safety and health. Our salt mine has also served as a cheese warehouse and, since 1950 the products were stored in the first 500 meters of the Franz Josef Transport Gallery. Then, since 1992, this treasure from the depths has been reopened to the public as a tourist destination.

The Story of the Rebirth of Turda Salt Mine

In 2008, the Salt Mine entered an extensive process of modernization and improvement, being restored for tourism since 2010. The excellent state of preservation of the mining works and of the equipment used for salt transport, together with the care with which the modernization works of the Salt Mine were performed so that it could become an international tourist destination, transforms Turda Salt Mine into a veritable museum of salt mining.

Salt was once the most expensive trade product because it was extremely difficult to obtain. Today, it is a symbol of “valuable” bonds between people, which lasts. Salt brings good luck. And at the Turda Salt Mine you can say that good luck surrounds you.

Turda Salt Mine is today a spectacle of nature, a remarkable destination in the world. The magical land in the depths of Transylvania.

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Why is Turda Salt Mine spectacular?

  • Turda Salt Mine is a unique place in the world.
  • You experience unique moments through the magical underground galleries.
  • Turda Salt Mine is a natural source of health and good luck.