The Salty Corners of Zakarpattya

  • The Salty Corners of Zakarpattya
Issue 58, June 2013.

The Salty Corners of Zakarpattya

Solotvyno, Transcarpathians (Zakarpattya) Region, (approx. 320 km from Lviv)

In Soviet times a spell in the salt mines was the fate of dissidents and criminals. But today the glittering tunnels below Solotvyno in Western Ukraine have been transformed into a more benign destination: a utopia for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases. Doctors at Solotvyno's allergological hospital direct patients to dank chambers 300 meters below ground, where a unique microclimate is said to ease their coughing and wheezing. The hospital, set among rolling hills near the Romanian border, started as a small clinic almost 30 years ago but is now a luxury complex serving about 6,000 people a year.

Increasingly it is attracting customers from Western European countries where urbanization and dietary changes have contributed to rising rates of asthma.
Western experts remain sceptical, but staff in Solotvyno say a course of residential treatment is 90% effective in reducing symptoms for up to three years. Their method is known as speleotherapy: it employs the salt-permeated air of the working mine to dissolve phlegm in the bronchial tubes and kill micro-organisms that cause infections.

Speleotherapy was discovered in Poland in the 1950s, when it was noticed that salt miners rarely suffered from tuberculosis or respiratory diseases. It is a common treatment in eastern and central Europe, but almost unknown elsewhere.
The underground facility situated in shaft No. 9 of Solotvyno's salt mine is unique because its tunnels are the deepest in the world to be used for such purposes. Patients - a third of them children - spend an average of 24 days at the facility, during which they descend in a lift for 18 to 20 afternoon or overnight sessions.
The temperature in the mine maintains a steady 22°C all year round. Up to 200 people can be underground at one time; talking, reading or sleeping on beds grouped together in alcoves carved out of the rock and lit by fluorescent tubes.

Since its discovery, the curative power of the Solotvyno lakes has attracted anyone who wishes to become healthy through the power of nature. These lakes are filled with curative waters with a salt content of somewhere between 146—200 gram per litre and increased concentration of bromide ions. The highly-mineralized solution of these medicinal salt lakes is alcalescent, and sodium-chloride. The solution and the curative dirt at the bottom of the lakes and along the banks contain the rare elements: caesium, fluorine, bromide, and rubidium.

During the year the water temperature does not decrease lower than 17°C. It was noticed long ago that bathing in salt water decreases pain in joints in cases of rheumatism, diseases of the backbone and helps to reduce stress. Psoriasis is well-cured and any wounds are easily healed.

During summer thousands of Romanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Czechs and many other nationalities come here to improve their health and to get all the fun one can expect from the resort that should ultimately be titled the "Egypt of the Carpathians".

To get cured, people bathe in the Solotvyno lakes; apply the mineral-rich mud, clay and brine. Water treatments and medical dirt applications truly help patients who have psoriasis, atop dermatitis and chronic dermatitis, and also those who have had nervous breakdowns, immune system problems and experienced recent stress.

As any great resort, Solotvyno offers great places to stay, parking, shower-rooms, restaurants, and lots of summer cafes where live music and dancing goes on all night!