Euromaiden Press: Good morning World! Good morning Ukraine!
Soledar is a city in Donetsk Oblast, devastated and razed to the ground by Russian forces. It used to be a bustling salt-producing town. During the Soviet era it was given a preposterous name – Karlo-Libknekhtovsk (from 1965 to 1991, in honour of the German communist Karl Liebknecht).
Industrial salt mining began in 1881. During this period, about 250 million tons of salt were extracted, but the mines hold about 5 billion tons. 94% of all salt consumed in Ukraine was extracted by Soledar’s Artemsil, but due to intense fighting, the company ceased all activity in April 2022. These salt mines are among the largest in Europe. Therefore, it’s also a fight for natural resources. Artemsil’s chief geologist Viktoria Skrypnyk says the mines can’t be used for military purposes as they are too deep and narrow.
A section of the Soledar mines was reserved for tourists and just before the invasion, there were guided tours for visitors. In addition, at a depth of 300 metres, there’s a speleotherapeutic sanatorium called Salt Symphony Spa, where it was possible to rent a room. There’s also a soccer field and church with a tall ceiling.
Musical events, concerts and art exhibits ere held in the Soledar caves (the acoustics are perfect). In 2004, the Salt Symphony Festival took place at a depth of 288 metres in a beautiful underground space with the participation of Vienna Opera soloist Viktoria Lukianets and the Luhansk Donbas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Austrian conductor Kurt Schmid. The hall hosted 250 guests; tickets ranged from 580 to 2000 euros.
Today, the halls of Soledar salt mines lie abandoned and empty. They wait silently for Ukraine’s victory, which will revive the salt industry and the cultural and tourist spheres of these unique salt mines.