Written by: Lea Kosovac

Photo courtesy of Saltworks Ston

Like many children, I grew up listening to stories and fairy tales. One of them left a deep impression on me, and only recently, searching the internet, I found that it originates from my part of the world.

It’s a story about a king whose three daughters wanted to express how much the king meant to them through birthday presents.
One daughter brought jewels to the birthday party and said that the king was like the most valuable jewels to her.
Another offered a piece of gold, saying that the king was like dry gold to her. The third daughter brought a lump of salt, and when she said that the king was as valuable to her as salt, the court burst into laughter.
Everyone at the birthday gathering made fun of the young royal, and she got expelled from the kingdom. A few months later, the kingdom ran out of salt. All residents began to fall ill with various diseases.
The daughter, who was in exile, returned to her kingdom bringing salt.
After saving the kingdom, she became the new queen and lived happily ever after.
This is a short interpretation of my favorite story that originates from Rijeka, Croatia.

Photo courtesy of Saltworks Ston

Visiting the Saltworks Ston, the oldest in Europe, I came back to that story, and through it, I understood why people used to fight wars over salt and why a gram of salt was worth more than gold.

The first records about Saltworks Ston date from 1333. At that time Pelješac peninsula became the property of the Republic of Dubrovnik.
Due to its good location, Mediterranean climate, and high salinity of the sea from the Ston Canal, this locality has become ideal for salt production.

Photo courtesy of Saltworks Ston

At that time, salt meant life, and whoever had a monopoly over it could do whatever he wanted. Back then, it was the wise Republic of Dubrovnik.
After taking ownership of Pelješac, they first renovated the salt pans and built the Ston Walls in the 14th and 15th centuries to protect this strategically important product. The pools of Saltworks Ston got names after saints, all but one, which got the name Mundo after the Spanish word meaning world. Salt from that pool, by order of the municipality, was used by workers and the poor. The fact that the municipal rulers at that time cared about the workers and the poor is fascinating.

Photo courtesy of Saltworks Ston

The people of Dubrovnik made good use of their ownership of the Ston salt pan, and because of their neutral position, they traded with the Ottomans and the Mediterranean countries. All healthy men were obliged by the law to help with the harvest.
The production capacity of Saltworks Ston has remained the same today as it was during the Republic of Dubrovnik. On 400,000 square meters, there are seven sea evaporation pools and ten crystallization pools.

The production process has not changed either. And this sets this Saltworks apart from all others in Europe, and perhaps the world.

Photo courtesy of Saltworks Ston

The salt produced in Saltworks Ston comes from natural sources only, sea, sun, and wind. And the whole process is done manually. What is interesting is that salt is not collected, it is harvested.
The process starts in April, and the picking takes place from July to September.
The final product is pure ecological salt, without additives or supplements, which is a rarity today. For people who care about their health, or deal with energy work, the importance of ecological salt is invaluable.
She is more than jewels and more than gold.
Although today salt is spoken of only in a negative context, at least when it comes to nutrition, the importance of ecologically produced sea salt should not be neglected.
If we learn to value the right things and use them in moderation, they can only be good for us.
The key to a quality life is not in renunciation, it is in moderation.
However, always take everything you read with a grain of salt.

If you plan to spend your vacation in Croatia, we recommend you visit the Saltworks Ston, located close to Dubrovnik.
It is worth visiting the salt museum, taking photos by pools where the salt is stored, and if you have time, you can always lend a hand in picking.

Read more about Saltworks Ston here.

Hein Adamson

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