Salina Turda, the most spectacular underground mine

We are entering a subterranean world that seems out of a crepuscular sci-fi movie. But descending the stairs that led you to the base of the immense cave carved in salt, you will soon forget about Blade Runner, once you hear the echo of people talking out loud form the top of a fun fair big wheel.

This vast space has been transformed into an underground theme park; You can play from minigolf to tennis table, there is a mini soccer ground, an amphitheatre for concerts and you can even row in the waters of a tenebrous lake.

Turda salt mine dates from the seventeenth century, but it was not opened as a tourist attraction until 1992. Located near Cluj-Napoca, the capital of the mythical and historical region of Transylvania (Romania), in 2009 it was refurbished to get the incredible futuristic design, that looks so good in pictures:

Salina Turda
The highlight of the visit is the dark salty lake, 400 feet deep into the Earth. Pictured, the fancy island in the middle of the lake from above.

Turda salt mine
The lake is at the bottom of the cone-shaped Terezia mine, that it's connected with the other big chamber (Rudolf Mine), through the colossal window that you can see in the top.

Salina Turda Romania
The biggest hall, Rudolf Mine, is 138 feet deep, 165 feet wide and 263 feet long.

The vertical structure in the background is a panoramic glass elevator, and at the left is the base of the big wheel.

Salt mine Transylvania
In this shot you can see the enormous aperture between both cavities (look at the size of the people in the balcony at the left).

Salt mine Romania
View of the bridge that links the island to the rest of the complex from the water.

Mine de sel Turda
Feel the oddity of this place renting a boat and trying to get to the darkest areas, near the walls.

Salzbergwerk Turda
It's considered that the salty environment is beneficial to health thanks to the specific micro climate and clean air condition, so some areas are used as spa treatment rooms.

Tordai Sóbánya
The legend says that the light rancid smell that can be appreciated in some galleries, like dirty socks in a student flat, are produced by the slow decaying corpses of a wagon of horses that fell into the lake.

Miniera di sale Turda
Also all the historical mining facilities have been preserved, like this octagonal room. This machine was the "engine" used for vertical transport, horse powered.

Mining colony
On the way out (or in depending from which entrance are you coming from), there is a corridor with a "mining colony from the moon" style...

Turda Salina
... that features these beautiful colors and shapes with a bit of light.

Batcave mine
A frustrated Batcave? Christopher Nolan was interested in filming here scenes for The Dark Knight Rises, but the location was finally discarded.


Te Waihou, a river out of a fairy tale in New Zealand

With a tropical look thanks to the exuberant vegetation, a dazzling display of colours, and a crystal clear water purified after over 100 years travelling underground, Te Waihou river is another hidden gem that most tourists pass by without exploring.

Te Waihou Walkway & the Blue Spring are located near Putaruru, going northwest from the rotten valley of Roturua, famous for being a stinky geothermal wonderland. You can find a map at the end of the post to help you to find this nice short walk, in the north island of glorious New Zealand:

Te Waihou
The water flows from the Blue Spring, considered one of the country's best swimming holes. It stays at a chilling 11 degrees temperature all year. Image by Ugur Ozden

Fairy tale river
The walk to the springs follows a track alongside the river, through a picturesque and rural land.
This one and all images below, courtesy of Jude.

Te Waihou river
A great view of clear running water and New Zealand native cabbage trees.

Te Waihou New Zealand
This helicopter was filming for a TV ad.

Te Waihou Walk
The walk takes 90 minutes (one way) upstream from the car park.

Enchanted river New Zealand
In the upper stream, the water is extremely clear and pure, with an intense blue hue.

Te Waihou Walkway
Zoom out.

Magic New Zealand
This source supplies around 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water.

River colours New Zealand According to the local tourism office of Hamilton & Waikato, water from the Blue Spring flows at a rate of 42 cubic metres per minute and could fill a 6 lane (25 metre) swimming pool in around 12 minutes.

Crystal clear river New Zealand
The water comes from the Mamaku Ranges, a long trip of over 100 years.

Magic River New Zealand
During this long stay in aquifers, particles and light-absorbing matter are removed from the water, leaving it with a very high clarity and characteristic blue-green colour.

Sunset New Zealand
Bonus track: a sunset from South Waikato.

View Te Waihou in a larger map


16 rare wooden churches from the Carpathians

In 2013, the UNESCO selected sixteen historical Wooden Tserkvas (as these peculiar churches are called), as new world heritage sites. Eight are on Polish territory and other eight in Ukraine. Their architecture, cultural environment and features are unique compared to other remarkable wooden churches like Kizhi in Russia, or the ones in Southern Lesser Poland.

These tserkvas were built between the 16th and 19th centuries to serve the Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic faiths, and were made from the timber of the great forests which covered most lands in Europe at that time. The location of most of them in remote rural villages in the Carpathian Region, between Poland and Ukraine, helped them to survive centuries of plundering and fire.

You can find a map with the location of the 16 Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region at the end of the post:

Wooden Tserkvas

Olkhon Island and the frozen waters of lake Baikal

For five months at the year, the unique lake Baikal in West Siberia, Russia, it's sealed by an ice sheet up to a meter thick. To have an idea of its size and importance, Baikal is a massive natural water reservoir: it contains one fifth of all the water found in the lakes and rivers of our planet.

Also, this is a popular stop in the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, near Irkutsk. What is not so popular, is to go there during the bastard-cold winter, and to bring back these amazing shots, as the photographer Marco Fieber did:

Olkhon Island Frozen

The Monuments Men filming locations: where the Nazis kept the looted art

The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program was established by the Allied armies in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war areas during World War II. According to Wikipedia, about 400 service members and civilians worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage. Also they found and returned works of art and other items of cultural importance that had been stolen by the Nazis or hidden for protection.

Directed by George Clooney and starring a distinguished troop of celebrities, the movie was filmed in UK and Germany. This production brings to the big screen the decisive moments, when many of the major cultural and artistic artworks of our civilization were about to be lost forever.

We will visit the locations where The Monuments Men was filmed, and also we'll travel to some of the places that played an important role in this story, based in the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

Monuments Men filming locations

15 extraordinary reflected wonders

Below we present some outstanding examples of reflection photography, a compendium of small artworks, some of them from extremely popular monuments and tourist attractions, that otherwise we wouldn't show in this web.

Throughout the time we have been collecting and keeping stunning images for this special post, from the four corners of the world. Compositions with one thing in common and an artistic twist thanks to water, mirrors and other reflecting surfaces:

Hierve el agua in Oaxaca, Mexico

The enchanted garden in the jungle of Xilitla

This is the story of a surreal delirium, born from the will of an eccentric millionaire of other times. The attempt of a frustrated artist to raise, in an exuberant corner of the rain-forest in Mexico, what his creativity and wallet would enable him.

The result was a complex almost forgotten for the history of art, a sculptural fantasy straight out of the impossible Escher designs, the decaying remains of a lost civilization or the abandoned the sets of a science fiction film.

Las Pozas of Xilitla was the personal paradise of Edward James, a charismatic character straddling his beginnings as patron of artists such as Dalí and René Magritte, to the old shaman in a tropical retreat, playing to build his amazing dream:


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