Salinas de Rio Maior: Portugal's Living Salt Museum

Written by SodaCoffee Staff |
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Imagine a place that is nestled in the valleys and really creates the feeling of a living museum. Such a location can be found in Salinas de Rio Maior – A hidden gem in Portugal that is essential to add to your Portugal bucket list. Salinas de Rio Maior is located at the foot of Serra dos Candeeiros, three kilometers North of the central Portugal city of Rio Maior. This destination is a living salt museum that can easily be conquered in a day, yet will be a highlight of any trip to the region.

Your sense of taste will be magnified as you learn how salt was created dating back to the ancient days of Portuguese traders. As rainwater seeps into the soil through cracks in the limestone rock, subterranean rivers are formed. One of these rivers flows through a huge, deep rock salt mine and feeds the Salinas well in Rio Maior. The water is then pumped out of the subterranean river and is seven times saltier than that of the sea! The salty water then flows into platforms which hold the water waiting for it to evaporate. The process of evaporation can take between three and six days and the subsequent collection of salt is even faster. Just as was done hundreds of years ago, individual men shovel the salt after evaporation into pyramids. The salt pyramids that form the backdrop to Salinas de Rio Maior really should not be missed. It certainly is fascinating to see how salt in "mined" and how quickly it can reach your dinner table.

Salinas de Rio Maior dates back to 1177 and the oldtown trading posts, which surround the salt mine, allows you to visualize the way individual Portuguese traders bartered over their herbs and spices, as they traversed the brilliant landscape nestled before your very eyes. To memorialize this trip, you will have ample time to talk to the traders that still tout their handicrafts. This will provide you will lasting memories of a trip to this special place inside the great country of Portugal. 

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