What to see in Agrigento and its surroundings

Let’s discover together the Salt Mine and its cathedral in Realmonte di Italkali.

cosa vedere ad agrigento
Ph. Ivano Mistretta

Agrigento and its surroundings offer many treasures that every year, in the summer, attract millions of tourists from all over the world. The Valley of the Temples and the Scala dei Turchi are undoubtedly the most famous and visited, but there is a truly incredible and little-known place, located in the small town of Realmonte, a few steps from the Scala dei Turchi: we are talking about the Salt Cathedral, located inside a rock salt mine, 100 meters below the surface and 30 below sea level.

So, if you are wondering what unconventional things to see in Agrigento, we recommend you read this article to the end!

The Rock Salt Mine

cosa vedere ad agrigento: Miniera di Salgemma
Ph. Ivano Mistretta

Together with the mines of Racalmuto and Raffo, a hamlet of Petralia Soprana, this mine is one of the very few rock salt mines still active in Sicily.

This is a deposit formed approximately 100 million years ago, from which enormous quantities of table salt, industrial salt and other salts are extracted every day, 500 metres below the surface.

The Salt Cathedral: the construction and the interiors

cosa vedere ad agrigento: la cattedrale di sale
Ph. Ivano Mistretta

This incredible place of worship, unique in the world, was created in 2000 by miners who, by sculpting the salt rock, managed to create a real cathedral with white and grey shades, 20 metres wide and 8 metres high.

Every year on December 4th, a solemn mass is celebrated here by the bishop in honor of Saint Barbaraprotector of miners – reserved only for miners and their families. In fact, there is a niche dedicated to the Saint, where every day the miners, before starting work, dedicate 5 minutes to pray before starting to work.

cosa vedere ad agrigento: gli interni della cattedrale
Ph. Ivano Mistretta

It is thanks to the local artist Lillo Alba that today we find the sculpture of Saint Barbara, two holy water fonts made from large blocks of salt at the entrance, as well as a bishop’s chair, the table where the lamb was sculpted and the pulpit where a cross and the Easter candle, the Crucifix, the Holy Family, the seat and the altar entirely made of salt are depicted.

The Rosone 75 meters underground

Il rosone di sale
Ph. Fabrizio Giraldi

The mine holds another truly suggestive treasure 75 meters underground, namely the Rosone of salt, and it’s the result of the “Mediterranean Sea trapped” for 6 million years, due to the closure of the Strait of Gibraltar and the lack of fresh water supplies from the ocean.
This has created over time a strong concentration of NaCl debris, namely rock salt with other salts. This explains the presence of concentric circles. In the streaks, the brown-gray color is given by the clay and, the richer the streak, the less pure the salt.

How to visit it?

The Salt Cathedral is managed by the company Italkali which allows visits with mandatory reservation, and is opened on the last Wednesday of every month for a maximum of 30 people.
The Salt Cathedral is located in the Scavuzzo district of Realmonte (Ag).
For more info and reservations, please call: +39 0922 816244 or +39 0922 816777.

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