There is no shortage of variety when it comes to architecture within the Church: some are even built completely below the earth – 300 feet below the earth in fact, where the Salt Cathedral of Realmonte in Sicily is carved completely out of salt.
On the southern coast of Sicily lies the town of Realmonte with a vast salt mine of a deposit that formed over 6 million years ago. Over 15 miles of multi-story tunnels lie over 300 feet below the surface and 100 feet below sea level.
Salt is not the only wealth of the mine – the true treasure is the Salt Cathedral of Realmonte: over 20,000 square feet in size, carved directly in the salt by the workers of the mine. The cathedral can accommodate up to 800 seats and is renowned for its acoustic that rival even the most sophisticated of opera houses.
The altar, baptistery, crucifix, statues and bas-reliefs: everything is entirely carved out of rock salt.
Among the works that can be admired during a visit to the Cattedrale del Sale are the altar, carved on a large block of salt on which a lamb is depicted; the ambo, where you can see a cross and the Paschal candle; and, a bishop’s throne carved into the wall.
Sculpted on the left and right walls are a bas-relief of a Crucifix and the Holy Family, respectively. On the rear wall of the apse is a carving of Saint Barbara, the patron of miners. Every year on December 4th, the Feast Day of Saint Barbara, a solemn Mass is celebrated with the miners and their families in attendance.