Travel

Batman would totally dig this epic Transylvanian salt mine

You've probably never given mines a second thought -- as a general rule, they tend to be cold, dark, and full of horrible ways for you to die. BUT, dear reader, not all holes in the ground're created equal; some are equipped with sports facilities, music venues, and completely awesome mood lighting. Join us as we journey to Transylvania, home of both Vlad the Impaler and Vigo the Carpathian... 

Welcome to Salina Turda: folks pulled salt out of the ground here from the days of the Roman Empire until the whole place was abandoned in 1932. It re-opened as a tourist attraction 60 years later, then underwent an extensive renovation in 2009 (to the tune of $6mill) -- money well-spent, as this place looks like something straight out of The Dark Knight Rises.

The mine's been decked out with futuristic lighting and wooden members (heh), giving it the feel of an alien's spaceship -- a hipster alien who's just wild about reclaimed lumber. You probably won't have to worry about probing down here, though.

The mine's unique microclimate results in year-round temps of 50-54F, 80% humidity, and an atmosphere that's positively ionized and pathogen-free. This makes it a popular destination for people with chronic bronchitis, asthma, and an obsession with unique microclimates.

Fun fact: Salina Turda's the only giant cavern in the world that features a 180-seat amphitheater with heated seats. The acoustics here have gotta be pretty incredible during shows, because, y'know, it's a giant cavern. The theater's mostly played by local acts; check out this performance by Romanian alt-rock group Byron.

Yes, there's a ferris wheel. Yes, you can ride it. No, you won't have to scrap with salty Romanian carnies for the privilege.

As this is Europe, even the oldest of salt mines is equipped with a fully-enclosed soccer pitch. The ping-pong tables were probably just added so American tourists didn't feel left out.

And what subterranean cave of wonders would be complete without a section devoted entirely to mini-golf?

Since it's a tourist trap, your visit'll end in a gift shop. Which is a much kinder finish than you can expect from a journey down some other Transylvanian hell-cave, so book a flight now!

Gianni Jaccoma is a travel editorial assistant for Thrillist, and once met Vigo the Carpathian in an otherwise-forgettable NYC bar. Follow him on Twitter at @gjaccoma.