The city of Yekaterinburg in Russia has a secret hundreds of feet below its surface: it is harboring a salt mine that is nothing short of breathtaking.
The entirety of the caves is covered in psychedelic patterns, a result of the natural swirling of carnallite and rock layers. The mineral carnallite, a hydrated potassium magnesium chloride, is often used as a powerful aid in plant fertilization.
Though it typically appears as yellowish-red, it can also form into many different colors or even remain colorless.
The mostly abandoned mine stretches for miles and offers a lot for tourists to be in awe of, yet, sadly, the mine is closed off and can only be viewed if you have a special government permit.
This may be due to the dangers of being in the mine, as the photographer of these images says,
“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. The danger element is part of the fun and it’s a special feeling being somewhere very few people have seen.”
The photographer, Mikhail Mishainik, and his friends have reportedly spent about 20 hours exploring the caves and have even sometimes spent the night there. He says that, “It is hard to describe how it feels being so far down, you lose all track of time.”
See the images below for a glimpse into these beautiful corridors.