Rock Salt Mine Loulé is located 230 metres below street level. Learn the history, visit the galleries see how salt is extracted. A tour not to be missed.

Rock Salt Mine Loule with salt crystals forming from the rocks

Where is Rock Salt Mine Loulé located?

The Rock Salt Mine is located in the town of Loulé, Algarve, Portugal.

Address:  R. Combatentes da Grande Guerra 80, 8100-616 Loulé

GPS Coordinates: 37.134781896320845, -8.007767598482863

The Salt Mine is located in the middle of a residential area of Loulé and close the supermarket Continente.

Where is Loulé?

Loulé is situated about 17.3 kilometers north of Faro Airport Gago Coutinho . Loulé has an approximate  population of 72,332 inhabitants.

How to get to Rock Salt Mine Loulé?

The best way to get to Salt Mine in Loulé is by car. You can hire a car in the Algarve at great rates.

Does the Salt Mine in Loulé have parking?

Yes, the Rock Salt Mine in Loulé offers free parking. You can park your car at the mine’s parking lot while you tour the salt mine.

Aeral shot of the loule salt mine

History of the Loulé Rock Salt Mine

The Rock Salt Mine Loulé also known locally as  Mina de Sal-Gema Loulé has a rich history.

During the 1950s there was a severe drought in the Algarve. Survyers and engineers started looking for water for farming purposes. The agriculture in Loulé was in desperate need of water.

Once they started digging in the “Campina de Cima” area instead of finding water they were surprised by the discovery of salinization at a certain depth. This then led to the discovery of rock salt deposits further down.

During the 1960s great investments were made to start extracting the Rock Salt that was used in the Chemical Industry. Tunnels were excavated and galleries were formed. To date approximately 45 km of tunnels run underneath the town of Loulé.

The mine has been operating since 1963. In the early days, the mine extracted over 80,000 tons of salt annually. However, today, it operates on demand and removes approximately 10,000 tons of salt per year.

In 2019 The mine opened to the public, allowing for several guided tours throughout the day.

 

What is the Rock Salt found in the Loulé Mine?

The loué Rock Salt mine is composed of rocks with 93% salt, 2.8% clay giving the rock a slight red colour and 2.2% is  gypsum giving a grey colour mixture.

The salt has a rocky appearance, brownish in colour due to its mixture with other ores.

When you look around everything is Rock Salt, the walls, the floors and the tunnel ceilings.

What is the Loulé Rock Salt used for?

As the rock salt has a density of over 90%, this salt is not suitable for human consumption.

Instead, it’s used primarily for de-icing roads and animal feed.

Hard rock salt rocks with red / orange colours

How was the Salt Rock Formed?

If you look on the map of the Algarve you will see that Loulé is inland approximately 11 km to the coast in a straight line.

How does Loulé have salt?

Thousands of years ago, the ocean reached Loulé! As the years went by and the tectonic plates shifted, the water started to disappear, but salt (Sal-Gema) formed under the town of Loulé. 

Is the Loulé Rock Salt Mine safe to Visit?

Will it be safe to visit the Loulé Rock Salt Mine? Absolutely, all safety measures are taken to ensure you have the best experience. You will be guided by experienced guides. The mine has been receiving guests, tours, exhibitions and even concerts in the main galleries of the mine.

Even though Rock Salt is mainly salt, it is a very hard rock that can not be easily broken. This makes the Mine a stable environment.

Each of the tunnels are all approximately 4 meters high and 10 meters wide. you will not feel claustrophobic during your tour.

In the early days, salt extraction was done using explosives; this is no longer allowed, and machine drilling and scraping the mine walls now extract all the salt. It is said that the salt mine in Loulé has enough salt still to be extracted for another 3000 years.

tunnel with orange light at salt mine in Loulé

How deep is the Rock Salt Mine in Loulé?

The Loulé Rock Salt mine is 230 meters deep. It takes 4 minutes to descend in a small elevator that can take up to 4 people at a time through an open shaft. Trust me, it looks a little scary, but it is quite fun going down and also up at the end of the tour. You can observe the rock salt stones as you descend. It is very safe, and you will always have a guide with you.

Loule salt mine open elevator

Saint Barbara Exhibition - Rock Salt Mine Loulé

Why is Saint Barbara so important to the Rock Salt Mine in Loulé? 

Saint Barabara is the Patron Saint and protector of all miners. 

Rock Salt Mine Loulé hosts a beautiful and breath taking exhibition in one of the mine galleries 230 meters below ground level. 

Make sure you include the Saint Barbara Exhibition with your guided tour of the Rock Salt Mine Loulé. You really do not want to miss out on seeing statues.

 

Art exhibition in the Loule salt mine

What is the Rock Salt Mine Loulé Guided Tour?

Duration: Your tour has a duration of  hours.

Tour Guide: Tour Guide speak fluent English, French, German and Portuguese.

Meeting Point: Meet at Rocksalt Mine Tour | Mina de Sal-Gema de Loulé.

Your Tour: Enjoy a guided visit to the TechSalt salt mine and learn about geology, the history of the mine, and the rock salt mining economy of the area.

Descend to a depth of 230 meters under the city of Loulé as you are escorted along an underground route. Discover more about the evolution of rock salt mining processes as well as the economic importance of the mine in the region.

Admire the vast chambers of ancient rock formations, some of which date back over 230 million years.

Saint Barbara, Patroness of Miners and Other Trades, is a unique art collection housed underground in Loule.

Discover the history of Saint Barbara who is traditionally the patron saint of miners, military people, gunsmiths, and anyone else working with explosives. She is the protector against thunder, lightning and explosive gunpowder accidents. 

An impressive number of pieces of art, some hundreds of years old, are displayed in the exhibition, along with explanations that tell a unique life story.

Parallel to the collection, in a different mine chamber, is a contemporary view from Klaus Zylla. This painting exhibition shows you Saint Barbara’s life in 12 paintings of warm colors and provocative motifs. Take time to visit both exhibitions and listen to Saint Barbara’s miner’s songs.

Open gallery at the Rock Salt mine loule

What is included in my Rock Salt Mine Loulé Guided Tour?

When you book your Guided Tour to the Salt Mines in Loulé you are entitled to the following;

  • Art exhibition entry
  • Salt mine entry
  • Salt mine tour
  • Live guide
  • Helmet for safety with flashlight. The mine has sufficient lighting but if you would like to take a closer look at the rocks and salt, the flashlight is useful.
  • Reflective vest.

What to Bring:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Camera
  • Bottle of water

This tour is not suitable if;

  • you require a wheelchair
  • if you are very claustrophobia
  • Children under 6 years old.

How much is the tour to Rock Salt Mine Loulé with the Exhibition included?:

The complete tour with the exhibition included is 30 euros per person with free cancelation up to 24 hours before.