A whiff of salty sea breeze in Prague

Didn't manage to go on a seaside holiday this summer? But still think that humid salty air would do you a world of good? Well, now people in Prague have a chance to enjoy the benefits of a seaside climate right in the middle of the city - in an artificial salt cave.

Vaclav Koza,  photo: Pavla Horakova
Small crystals of salt from the Dead and Black Seas crunch underneath your feet as you enter the salt cave. Quiet relaxing music plays and a recorded voice explains the chemical properties of the different types of salt used in the cave. A perpetual waterfall releases ions of salt into the air.

Vaclav Koza is the manager of the brand new salt cave.

"There are 21.5 tonnes of salt imported from several countries. The big crystals on the walls come from Poland and Ukraine. The floor base is made of pressed salt blocks which combine salt from Poland, Ukraine and Pakistan. The salt in the water cascades comes from the Dead Sea."

A steady temperature of 20 degrees Celsius is maintained in the cave and a ventilation system ensures the circulating air is purified and ionised. The microclimate imitates the atmosphere in natural salt caves and salt mines whose curative properties especially in treating respiratory and skin diseases have been known for centuries.

"The capacity of the cave is fifteen people. They use special relaxation armchairs and sit through a 45-minute treatment cycle. Five such cycles should be as beneficial as a week at the seaside. All the time mellow music is playing, so it is just ideal for dozing off."

Salt mines and natural salt caves are used for therapeutic purposes in many countries, such as Austria, Romania, Poland and countries of the former Soviet Union. The list of conditions treated in them ranges from asthma to obesity.

Even if you don't suffer from any of them, it is pleasant to sit back, relax and breathe in the air saturated with saline dust. You can actually prove it is full of salt: Just lick your lips on leaving - they will be salty.