The Sečovlje Salina Nature Park is the largest coastal wetland in Slovenia, with an area of roughly 750 hectares. In 1993, it was designated a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) and the Museum of Salt-making was proclaimed in 2001 a cultural monument of national importance.
The Salina is not only famous for its salicultural landscapes, mostly built by the hand of man, but also extremely important as a shelter for rare or special animal and plant species. It is also composed of an extraordinary variety of different ecosystems showing the transition forms between sea water, brackish, fresh water and land ecosystems.
The cultural aspects of the Salina are manifested in the heritage of the traditional salt harvesting practices. These are best enjoyed watching the artisans harvesting the salt. Additionally, many related cultural events exist such as ‘The fiestas of the salters’ and the St. George – Saltpans Feast. A visit to the fascinating Museum of Salt-Making is also highly recommended.
The Sečovlje and Strunjan salt-pans are amongst the very few still active salt-pans in the Mediterranean where salt is still produced using traditional methods preserved and inherited through generations and sustained over several centuries. Nowadays, the salt production is carried on chiefly in order to preserve natural and cultural heritage.
In the Slovenian salt-pans, salt is still produced in a completely natural way by means of the ‘petola’ crust. It is an artificially-cultivated crust of 1 cm-thick in the crystallization basins, made of green-blue algae, gypsus, clay and different minerals. It works as a filter, preventing the salt from mixing with the mud from the bottom of the basin. According to EUR-Lex: ‘’the petola is prepared from the end of the previous season until the start of salt crystallization and it must be level so that the layer of brine above it remains shallow and of a consistent depth’’.
The seasonal work in the salt-pans was the source of primary livelihood for farmers and fisherman who usually go early in the morning to work on the field. Wearing their taperini sandals, workers gather into large heaps the salt that has been produced by evaporation of sea water in crystallization basins, using a traditional wooden scraper called a gavero. After draining it, salt is transported in handcarts (careli) to salt warehouses.
This traditional method of producing salt, during the season ending on St. Bartholemews Day (24th August), has been in use from the 14th century to the present day and the salt from the Piran salt-pans was much sought after because of its purity and white colour.
To know more about the natural and cultural attractions of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, and the types of salt in relation to the manner of its production, visit the website of the Park:
Watch the video of LAND OF SALT :
Sečovlje Salina Nature Park