Salinas de Añana sits south of Bilbao in northern Spain’s Basque Country and is the home of one of the world’s largest natural salt pans; these had their geological origins some 200 million years ago when the region was under the waters of a vast ocean. Today more than 5,000 pans stretch in a series of artificial terraces over the sides of a valley where man began salt production more than 3,000 years ago. They are fed by natural brine – salty water – that seeps as spring water out of the ground and flows along stone channels to irrigate the slopes. The salt is harvested by natural evaporation and several millennia of crystallization have rendered the landscape an eerie, flat white.
Considered one of the very finest of gourmet products, Salinas de Añana salt is now used by top chefs across the world and its brine is known to have medicinal properties, which can be tried out in the open-air saline spa, where massages will leave skin feeling silky soft.
Salinas de Añana, Álava. The salt pans are only accessible by guided tour.