Añana Salt Valley
Come to the Salt Valley and enjoy a unique experience: visit and learn about know one of the most unique architectural, scenic, archaeological, geological and historical sites in the world. Why? Because the Salt Valley is one of the world’s finest examples of the history of salt, known from ancient times as “white gold”.
The occurrence of natural brine springs has meant that the immediate area has had a significant uninterrupted population for thousands of years centred around the production of salt and which has been able to adapt, even today, to the conditions and peculiarities of each historical period.
The result is a unique spectacular landscape consisting of more than four kilometres of wooden channels that carry the salt water from the springs to the wells and stepped terraces, built of stone, wood and clay, and that support the pans where the salt is harvested.
These are highly fragile structures that require continuous maintenance and care. The salt workers have been able to make full use of the stone walls as a base for the wooden structures on which to build high-rise terraces which, in some cases, are over eight metres high.
How is the salt obtained?
Salt Valley and its surroundings stand on a geological phenomenon known as a diapir, which makes the salt from an ancient sea that disappeared millions of years ago rise up from inside the earth.
The springs bring the brine to the surface in a natural, continuous way, which means they can be used without the need for drilling or pumping. There are quite a few in Salt Valley and its surroundings, however, only four of them – Santa Engracia, La Hontana, El Pico and Fuentearriba – are usable because they flow continuously and their salt content is close to saturation.
The salt production at Añana is based on evaporating the water contained in the brine by natural means. To do this, the salt water is poured onto horizontal platforms called pans, with a surface area of between twelve and twenty square meters.
The sets of pans worked by the same owner are known as farms. These are adapted to the landscape’s complex features, both in shape and height, giving rise to elaborate shapes that occupy most of Salt Valley. Currently, more than 2000 pans have been restored and put into production.
Production of salt has been uninterrupted throughout the history of Salt Valley, although it has had to adjust to market demand.
Experience has shown that the best way to keep the Salt Valley in good condition is to produce salt, since the wood has been preserved for centuries due to contact with salt water.
Commitment to quality represents a new modern day approach. Instead of producing just one type of salt, as has been done throughout history, the Foundation is now marketing four types of natural salts: Spring mineral salt, Salt flower flakes, Liquid spring salt and salt stalagmites.
But the Salt Valley is much more than a salt factory, it also has a “pediluvium” footbath spa, where you can benefit from the therapeutic effects of salt water. This area is a repurposing of the wells where the salt workers and people of Añana used to bathe.
Salt Valley also organises all kinds of tourist and cultural activities:
- Beginning of the Salt Harvest.
- The Salt fair and light and sound show.
- End of the Salt harvest.
- Gathering festival
- Music, theatre and magic shows.
30 kilometres from Vitoria-Gasteiz via the A-2622 or the AP-1 and A-2622.