From the Middle Ages until the early 20th century the town of Turda in Transylvania, Romania was famous for its salt mining industry. By 1932 the mines were closed but thanks to financial aid from the European Union in 2009 they were renovated.


On the perimeters of Turda are waterfilled salt quarries and mud flats where the elderly locals come to bathe.


Andrei, a 30-year-old former truck driver, stands beside me as he overlooks the salt flats and says: "It's a free space for Romanians, Romas, whoever. We are all covered in clay, and we are all here to heal." The clay treatments are used to ease the effects of degenerative rheumatic conditions in preparation for the bitterly cold winter months.


The fall of Ceaușescu's regime and the subsequent end of Communism in Romania is celebrated in Turda. Nikolai, an 80-year-old Turda resident, stands before me as his son applies scorching hot black clay to his arms and back. He is one of many locals standing uninhibited, bare-chested and beaming in the 28-degree heat. He turns to me, his gold teeth glinting in the sun, and says resolutely: "Ceaușescu removed the bars and theatres. He removed our community. Then we were suddenly free. We didn't know what to do, so we went to the salt flats."

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