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Soledar Salt Mine

Bakhmut District

semi-overcast 12 °C

The Ukrainian house exhibition

The Ukrainian house exhibition


Soledar is a town in Bakhmut District of Donetsk region, Ukraine whose great sight and pride are hidden at the depth of 300 meters. According to the advertisements, the amazing underground world of the salt mine located here leaves no one indifferent! We paid a visit to Soledar Salt Mine and found out it was true. We found ourselves in a completely different world, unforgettable, unknown and intriguing...
The complex of old developed salt mines of Artemsol State Enterprise is open for visitors. The first salt mine was commissioned in 1881. As a result of more than a hundred years of underground work, a system of passages with a length of over 200 km formed in the earth’s thickness. Their sizes amaze, their height sometimes reaches 30 m.
Our guide explained that the salt mine had a constant temperature of +15 °C all the year round, humidity of 60 +/- 2%, pressure of 772 +/- 3 mm Hg.
The air in the salt mine is saturated with natural highly dispersed salt, consisting of respiratory fractions with a particle size of salt up to three microns. The air in the salt mine is completely void of microbes and allergens. It penetrates your body providing a powerful stimulating effect. Being in the salt mine has anti-inflammatory and mucolytic effect and promotes the enhancement of the immunity and neural system, The microclimate of the salt mine has a tremendous complex effect on the entire human body as a whole.

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Entering the salt tunnels

Entering the salt tunnels

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Our tour included a visit of the processed galleries of the salt mine, among them the famous Salt Chamber 41-bis. Of course, everything down there is made of salt: the walls, the ceiling, the carved sculptures and bas-reliefs. As our guide explained to us, the tour rans along the bottom of the ancient sea.

At Salt Dwarf bas-relief

At Salt Dwarf bas-relief


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During the tour we visited the salt industry museum, the sportsground, the underground labyrinths, the concert hall, the salt spa called Salt Symphony, and other underground galleries. We saw many bas-reliefs and sculptures made of salt, among them the bas-relief dedicated to Shubin the Kind Gnome ("Dobryi Shubin" in Russian).
We found out about Shubin the Kind Gnome, the custodian of the underworld. Shubin the Kind Gnome is the protection spirit of the mine and its strict owner. He does not forgive the carelessness and audacity of the people who descend to his realm underground. But for those who respect him and his underground treasures, he will be a tireless advocate.

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Our salt mine guide told us many interesting stories about the salt mine. The air in the salt mines is saturated with salt particles ranging in size from 1 to 5 microns. The concentration of microparticles in one cubic meter is up to 15 mg. The atmospheric pressure in the salt mine comprises 72 mm Hg, the humidity is 60% and the temperature ranges from 14 to 16 °C, which has a beneficial effect on the health state of the salt spa patients.

Salt Symphony sign

Salt Symphony sign

A ward at the salt spa

A ward at the salt spa

Visiting a salt production tunnel

Visiting a salt production tunnel


The salt mine contains Salt Symphony Spa. The spa is also called a speleosanatorium here. This is where they successfully treat bronchial asthma, asthmatic, obstructive bronchitis, chronic pneumonia, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, moderate severity of psoriasis, decreased immunity, and thyroid disease. According to our guide Vladimir, the salt spa is especially popular with women because, as they say, there is a significant decrease in the number of wrinkles. The treatment at this salt spa is also effective for children. That kind of treatment in the salt mine is officially called speleotherapy. This method is a highly effective drug-free method of prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of respiratory diseases of adults and children. This treatment takes place in the salt mines of Soledar at the spa located at the depth of 288 meters at the bottom of the ancient ocean.

During our salt mine tour

During our salt mine tour


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Having physiotherapy and breathing exercises, the salt spa patients spend their time in three spacious salt galleries. The medical treatment rooms are in the niches hidden in the walls. As a rule, children quickly get used to the new situation, play chess and other sports games, and the youngest kids play with salt like with ordinary sand. Adults can read their favorite books, periodicals, and play tennis. In addition, there is an underground bar for those who decided to relax at the depth of almost 300 meters.

Here is a link to Salt Symphony website.

The underground photo gallery

The underground photo gallery

The underground church

The underground church


We saw a church in one of the salt galleries. We saw a unique salt palm - an analogue of the Mertsalov’s Palm, a symbol of the Donets Basin. We saw many other bas-reliefs and sculptures made of salt by craftsmen.

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We took a picture of the bronze letter of thanks created by a grateful patient of the salt spa - V.F.Denisiuk, a teacher of an orphans school in Zhytomyr. It was written on July 16, 2009.
This is what he wrote to the staff of the salt spa:

I walk kilometers in the mine,
Crushing my favorite callus,
I’m waiting for the wind from the fan,
Raking the salt with my feet.

Flowing in a mountain serpentine
The salt pattern sparkles is sparkling.
Here the climate is not subject to winters,
It is cool like in spring.

Behind the curtains there are wards,
Here is a tunnel, then turn left.
The kids sleep peacefully in the wards,
And the adult people sleep in the neighboring ward.

They spend both day and night here,
Inhaling the salt comfort and touching the salt,
After all, the salt prevents you from coughing.

Everything is treated here! Salt is a gift from God!
We have the café of nurses and doctors here.
And a symphony of salts that
Sounds in the lungs of every patient.

With the music of this symphony in my lungs and in my soul, I will live, breathe, and gratefully recall the attentive, caring, professional, and wonderful team of the salt spa.

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Salt Chamber 41-bis


We found out that in December 2003, a record had been registered in Chamber 41-bis. It was entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the first underground ballooning of the “hopper” type.

Visiting the Salt Chamber 41-bis

Visiting the Salt Chamber 41-bis

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Zodiac bas-relief

Zodiac bas-relief

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In addition, in October 2004, a concert of the Donbass Symphony Orchestra was held under the direction of the Austrian conductor Kurt Schmid with the participation of the Vienna Opera soloist Victoria Lukianets. The concert was called "Salt Symphony". The Austrian composer and conductor Kurt Schmid commented on the sound of the orchestra in the salt mine. He said,

I'm just amazed! The notes flew up to the vaults of the cave, and then descended slowly, like a cloud.

According to the conductor, there are only two or three theaters in the world that can compete with the acoustics of the salt mine.

The salt treble clef

The salt treble clef

The salt replica of Mertsalov's Palm-Tree

The salt replica of Mertsalov's Palm-Tree

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The tours start at specified time: at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. only by appointment The two-hour tour costs UAH200.

The salt replica of Mertsalov's Palm-Tree

The salt replica of Mertsalov's Palm-Tree

Coat-of-arms of Soledar

Coat-of-arms of Soledar

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The salt mine is at 11 October Street, Soledar Donetsk region. Tel. +38 0627 44 25 73, +38 0627 44 30 86, +38 0627 44 25 38.

At Salt Symphony Spa

At Salt Symphony Spa

At the entrance to the salt industry museum_the sculpture of Shubin the Kind Gnome is to the left

At the entrance to the salt industry museum_the sculpture of Shubin the Kind Gnome is to the left

Posted by Vic_IV 01:55 Archived in Ukraine Tagged salt mine region donetsk soledar Comments (3)

Seven Wonders of Ukraine

The Fortress of Khotyn

sunny 22 °C

Approaching Khotyn Castle

Approaching Khotyn Castle

The city of Khotyn is located 65 km from Chernivtsi, and 25 km from Kamianets-Podilsky. One day during our stay in Kamianets-Podilsky, we saw an advertisement inviting tourists to take a bus tour to the Fortress of Khotyn for mere $10 each. We decided to save some money and to take a local bus for our day trip instead. We did not mind walking a mile from the bus stop to the fortress itself.

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Historical buildings in Khotyn


Chernobyl memorial in Khotyn

Chernobyl memorial in Khotyn


We found out that Khotyn Fortress was one of the most striking historical and architectural monuments of Ukraine. In 2007, the State Reserve of Khotyn Fortress was included into the list of the "Seven Wonders of Ukraine".

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Other wonders include:

  • Kamianets-Podilsky State Reserve
  • Pechersk Laura (Cave District Monastery) in Kyiv
  • Sophia Cathedral (“Lord’s Wisdom Cathedral”) in Kyiv
  • Sofiyivka Park, Uman, Cherkassy region
  • Khersones of Taura, Sebastopol, Crimea
  • The Island of Khortytsia, Zaporizhia

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The fortress address is: 40a Sviatopokrovska Street. Therefore, we wanted to discover that fortress, to see the river, and set out to Khotyn.

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Approaching Khotyn Castle

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The fortress is located on a rocky cape towering over the River Dniester. The city name derives from the verb "to want". That cape has always been a desirable and reliable place for ancient settlers.

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Leisure center with Karl Marx bust


Due to its favorable location, Khotyn became a center for the development of crafts and commerce, which in turn contributed to the flourishing of its culture and economy.
We discovered the city had the monument to Karl Marx, which is rare nowadays. The monument is a bust standing in front of the city leisure center.

The Battle of Khotyn, 1621

The Battle of Khotyn, 1621

The most famous battle for this fortress took place during the Khotyn War of 1621. The Turkish armada was the strongest in the world at that time.
Khotyn Fortress has been a favorite place of film directors. Several legendary films were shot here, among them: “Zakhar Berkut”, “The Viper", “The Black Arrow, ”The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe", “Robin Hood's Arrows", “The Old Fortress", ”Three Musketeers", “Yassa", “Taras Bulba”.

As you approach the fortress, you will notice several information board describing the sights.

General view of Khotyn Fortress

General view of Khotyn Fortress

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Here are the sights represented on the big information board of Khotyn Fortress:
1 – Northern Tower;
2 – Commandant’s Tower;
3 – Eastern Tower (“Death Tower”);
4 – South-Western Tower;
5 - Entrance Tower (“Gate Tower”);
6 – the Commandant’s palace;
7 - St. Helena and St.Constantine Church;
8 – barracks;
9 – fortress well;
10 – Bender Gate;
11 – Yassa Gate;
12 – Ruthenian Gate;
13 – Dniester Gate (“Kamianets Gate”);
14 – Lower Gate;
15 – the north-eastern bastion;
16 – the southern bastion;
17 - the south-western bastion;
18 – the western bastion;
19 – the north-western bastion;
20 – the north-eastern bastion;
21 – wall above the stream;
22 – ruins of the 18th-century mosque;
23 - St. Alexander Nevsky Church;
24 – former military training school;
25 – bridge over the stream;
26 – the monument to Petro Sahaydachny.

St.Alexander Nevsky Church

St.Alexander Nevsky Church

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St.Alexander Nevsky Church


When we approached the fortress. St. Alexander Nevsky Church caught our eyes. The church was built in 1835. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church now. We also saw the ruins of the Muslim mosque that was built here in 1718 and the ruins of the military training school built in 1825.

Petro Sahaidachny monumehnt

Petro Sahaidachny monumehnt

Approaching the fortress, we saw a Cossacks monument next to it. We found out it was the monument to Peter Sahaydachny, the Cossack army's chieftain. The monument was erected near the Bender Gate in 1991 to commemorate the 370th anniversary of Khotyn Battle of 1621. The Polish-Ukrainian army fought against the Turks then.

A view of the bridge across the stream

A view of the bridge across the stream

Approaching Khotyn Castle

Approaching Khotyn Castle

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Visiting Khotyn Fortress

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According to our guide, the courtyard is raised 10 meters above the ground. The fortress has six towers with the height of 60 m each. There castle walls connect four main towers:

  • the Northern Tower that is the largest tower. People used to call it the Fortress of Fortresses. King Daniel of Halycia began to build the fortress with the Northern Tower. It is decorated with a red brick ornament.
  • the Blacksmiths’ Tower that is famous for being designed to forge weapons;
  • the Commandant's Tower, where the commandant had his private office. The tower contained two cellars: one cellar for storing weapons and another one for storing food;
  • the Eastern Tower (“the Death Tower”). It was designed to execute enemies who were thrown down from the height of 45 meters.

One of the fortress premises was given for a museum, where you can look at the guns and torture tools used centuries ago.

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Visiting the castle museum

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Visiting the castle museum

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Visiting the castle museum


It was interesting to visit the museum and to see the old chambers and ammunition. The huge canvas depicting the Battle of 1621 was also striking.

The fortress well

The fortress well

The fortress also contains a well with the depth of 65 m. You can see St. Helena and St. Constantine Church on the territory of the castle courtyard. The church dates back to the 13th century.

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Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall


During your visit to the Khotyn Fortress, a strange spot on one of the walls will not escape your attention. Visitors coming to the castle for the first time, like us, are sure to pay attention to the huge wet spot. No one can say how long it has been there. They say it has been there for at least 100 years. The spot is located at a considerable height from the ground and never dries.

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall


It seems like a stain of ordinary water, but the human imagination has its own explanation. Looking closely at the spot, some people see the map of Ukraine in its outline. Some others see the contour of a jug. One of the legendary versions of the appearance of the wet spot is associated with a jug. One day the fortress was besieged by enemy troops. There were no wells on the castle's territory yet, therefore the thirsty warriors were getting ready to die of thirst. However, one of the local girls decided to take her own life and to bring water from the river. Therefore, she took a jug as though it was sufficient to save the soldiers. As she came back to the fortress walls, one of the enemies noticed her and shot from a bow. The arrow hit the brave girl, but she did her best to bring the water to the soldiers. She only spilled some drop of water on the wall. That is how the mysterious spot was formed.

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

Khotyn Castle_a wet spot on the wall

There is a creepy version of the spot appearance as well. It tells us that the spot contains girl's tears. According to a legend, a strict prince used to live in this fortress. He was looking for a good husband for his only daughter. The girl had long fallen in love with a governor who was in the service of her father. Upon learning of the daughter's connection with a commoner, the angry prince ordered to wall his daughter in one of the wall niches. It is said that the girl, bricked up in the wall, still pours bitter tears, and that spot does not dry until the lovers are united. However, scientists prove that the stain is formed of oil, or nitrate, which was a part of the powder.

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Khotyn Castle information board


The fortress is very interesting. Our guide told us that historic re-enactments were often staged there. Therefore, if you are lucky, you could even take part in a medieval battle.

The Fortress of Khotyn

Posted by Vic_IV 05:39 Archived in Ukraine Tagged khotyn Comments (1)

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