It’s one of the world’s oldest seasonings, used in food preparation, religious ceremonies, and ritual cleansing. Legend says that Roman legionnaires were often paid partly in salt, giving rise to the word salarium, which we know as the modern word salary. Yes, that salt in the shaker on your dining table is part of a long and storied history that stretches back almost eight thousand years.
Sure, as a food additive, salt gets a bad rap now and again, mainly from concerned cardiologists and health advocates. Perhaps this should’ve stopped my college roommate from living on salt bagels and salted butter for four years [Ed. note: that sounds amazing], but it shouldn’t stop anyone from marveling at the wonder that is sodium chloride. Today there are monuments to salt—both man-made and natural—all around the world, whether they’re old salt mines, salt flats used to test the speed of rockets and race cars, or merely beautiful natural wonders.
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá – Colombia
Phote source: olliethebastard 
One of the strangest places you’ll ever find a church? Within an old salt mine near Zipaquirá, in Colombia. The Salt Cathedral was built as a religious sanctuary, carved by miners as a place to worship while on the job, and originally consisted of several naves  and a gigantic cross. While officials shut down the mine in the 1990s because of safety concerns, they also poured almost $300 million into expanding the cathedral and the halls of the sanctuary to accommodate eight thousand worshipers!
Since its construction, the mine has been expanded into a center for religious worship (even though the cathedral technically is not recognized by the church because it lacks a bishop) and also a museum for mining and geology. The complex is an immense source of pride for the Colombian people, and locals consider it one of the country’s great cultural attractions.
Wieliczka and Bochnia Salt Mine – Poland
Phote source:ll conte di Luna 
Salt mines usually evoke thoughts of hardship and labor; judicial officials in the Middle Ages even sent prisoners to work in salt mines as punishment. But enter the Wieliczka and Bochnia salt mines just outside Kraków, Poland, and you’ll think you’ve entered opulent underground palaces. These mines are among the oldest continually operated salt mines in the world, having produced table salt since the Middle Ages.
The Wieliczka mines opened sometime in the thirteenth century and sport statues, figures, and impressive chandeliers—all carved out of rock salt. The mine shafts span over an unbelievable two hundred miles, but visitors can take in most of the splendor by walking along the much easier two-mile touring route, which has been visited over the years by the likes of Nicolaus Copernicus , Pope John Paul II, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Ever thought about having a party or even a wedding in a salt mine? The site has a chapel and reception room at the end of the tour.
The Bochnia Salt Mines are the oldest in Europe. While not as extensive as Wieliczka, they still have plenty of sights to offer, such as a church, various statues, and a preserved underground town that generations of miners called home from the twelfth century to just after World War I.
Can’t get enough of the underground Polish mine scene? Head on over to eastern Poland to the town of Che?m, a short drive from the Ukrainian border, and check out some of the most unique chalk mines  in the world. Not as tasty as the salt mines, but the Che?m Chalk Tunnels still hold an important place in Polish history, most notably as a hideout for persecuted Jews during World War II.
Khewra Salt Mines – Pakistan
Phote source:Karrar Haidri 
Halfway between Lahore and Islamabad lies one of the oldest salt mines in the world—a place where salt was first discovered by an electrolyte-starved horse in Alexander the Great’s army. Legend has it that, on a rest break while conquering the Punjabi plain, a number of the soldiers’ steeds started licking the stones that lay on the ground. A curious soldier took a taste test of the soil, and soon after the Khewra Salt Mine was founded.
Unlike the two mines in Poland, Khewra is still functioning to this day and produces approximately a half-million tons of salt per year. The mine also receives about forty thousand visitors who come to marvel at its bright pink, red, and rust-colored salt deposits and bricks. Inside one of the chambers is a tiny mosque where both visitors and miners can pray. Religious spaces inside mines are kind of a no-brainer, considering the dangers of working in such cramped places.
Solotvyno Salt Mine – Ukraine
Fresh off the presses from a Wired.com Raw File photo essay comes this story about a salt mine in Ukraine that for decades has been used as a therapeutic ward for asthmatics. Writer Pete Brook, via photographer Kirill Kuletski, describes  this convalescent sanatorium as “eerie,” “dystopian,” and akin to a “biological fallout shelter.”
We agree, especially when we read there were designated smoking areas inside this salt-mine-turned-lung-treatment-center. It’s not the Four Seasons: single beds laid side-by-side inside a shaft, and the Soviet-era medical instruments instill a Cold War–era terror inside us. (That said, this author would be willing to check out the habitability of the mine for himself.)
Originally published on NileGuide