In Russia, near the border of Europe and Asia,
are salt caves with amazing psychedelic-looking patterns on their walls.
Colors are shaped into mind-bending designs that cover the surfaces, leaving visitors in awe of their beauty.
After venturing into the caves himself,
29 year old photographer Mikhail Mishainik captured several astounding shots of the caves’ interiors,
which you can now see for yourself.
The salt mines are located several hundreds of feet beneath the city of Yekaterinburg in Russia, and they’re some of the most beautiful caves you could ever lay your eyes on. The walls are characterized by ornate and colorful patterns, so fantastic that they almost appear to be manmade.
However, the cave’s amazing walls are completely natural. The patterns are caused by layers of carnallite, a mineral that creates colorful swirls in the rock.
Carnallite is a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride that’s used in the production of plant fertilizers. It’s also deliquescent, meaning it absorbs moisture from its surroundings. The uncommon double chloride mineral only forms under specific environmental conditions: in evaporating seas or sedimentary basins. It’s primarily mined for its potassium and magnesium.
Of course, that being said, the most noticeable aspect about the mineral in these pictures is its color, which is most often yellow to white or reddish but can also be blue or completely colorless.
While a small portion of carnallite mines are still in use, most of the passageways are closed and off-limits to the public. If you want to enter, you need a special government permit. But the caves are so beautiful that they’d definitely be worth the visit, as it seems Mishainik certainly thought as well.
He spent over 20 hours exploring the cavernous, dimly-lit labyrinths and stayed overnight in them on at least 3 occasions.
Mishainik stated the following about his experience in the caves:
“The mines are huge and stretch many kilometers in width and length, a single tunnel can be over four miles long. It is hard to describe how it feels being so far down, you lose all track of time and the air is very dry, you always feel thirsty.
“The air is filled with small particles of salt and if we didn’t have our torches switched on it would be pitch black.
“It is easy to get lost as many of the passageways look the same, we navigate our way around very carefully.”
If reading Mishainik’s description about the mines doesn’t make them see intimidating enough, there’s also other dangers involved. When in the caves, Mishainik and his companions are also at risk for gas leaks and landslides.
He explains, “‘We take our safety very seriously but of course there are always dangers…There is the possibility of a gas leak from chemicals such as methane, hydrogen sulphide carbon dioxide as well the risk of a landslide.” However, he also adds, “The danger element is part of the fun and it’s a special feeling being somewhere very few people have seen.”
While somewhat dangerous, the salt mines certainly seem like they’d be well worth the risk.
But luckily, you don’t have to the brave the caves yourself to feast your eyes upon their stunning walls. You can enjoy Mishainik’s fantastic pictures right where you are and still be in just as much wonderment over those gorgeous patterns.