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Discover Elton Lake
April 22, 2015 21:08


Elton is a huge salt lake on the Russian Caspian lowland. Its area is 152 square kilometers, and its depth - about 0.1 meters (0.7-0.8 meters in spring). The lake is located 18 meters below the sea level.

Elton is considered the largest salt lake in Europe. There are salt sources at the bottom of the lake, as well as deposits of salts and mineral hydrogen sulfide mud.

The lake itself is filled with brine - supersaturated salt solution with a high content of potassium and other macro- and micronutrients. It looks like an oily liquid of golden-pink color, and its taste is bitter-salty.

White salt crystals lie along the shores of the lake.

Several freshwater rivers and 8 springs with bitter-salty water fall into the lake. Tatars, Kalmyks and Kazakhs call the Elton Lake “Altan Nor” (“Altyn-Nur”), which is translated as “Golden Bottom” or “Golden Lake”. This name is associated with the color of its water. Generally, it is said that the Elton Lake contains a lot of salt and just a little bit of water.

However, there is a version that it is named after the English explorer Elton who was invited here to explore the lake in 1741 by the Astrakhan Governor Tatishchev.

Salt was produced on the Elton Lake since the middle of XVII century and up to the end of XIX century. First this was the territory of Kalmyks, Russians came here in XVIII century, after the introduction of the state monopoly on the production and sale of salt by Peter I in 1705. The works continued until 1882, then the salt from Elton was replaced by that from Baskunchak, which turned out to be both better and cheaper. Silt mineral mud and brine of the Elton Lake are not inferior to the mud from the Dead Sea in Israel in their curative properties. Even the ancient Kalmyk nomads were aware of the miraculous properties of the Elton mud.

Then they treated their patients in the following way: they dug hollows in the coastal strata of soil, placed the patient there and smeared him/her with mud. An hour later the patient was washed in the lake brine.

Today there is a balneo-mud resort at the Elton Lake, where they treat diseases of joints, musculoskeletal system, skin, digestive, nervous and urinary systems, respiratory organs and many others. The health resort has been working since 1910.


Kazakhs still believe the legend, according to which the heavenly lord Tengri Khan descended to the waters of the Elton Lake to extend his eternal youth. 

Another legend preserved to the present day tells us that the Tatar-Mongol Mamai Khan was returning to the Golden Horde after being defeated on the Kulikovo field and hid his gold and jewels in the waters of the Elton Lake. They eventually got corroded by salt, and due to this the water in the lake acquired a golden hue.

There is a folk legend associated with the activities of the “Elton” health resort that was founded in 1910 and was then located on the lake, and in 1945 it moved to the village of the same name. They tell that there was a museum of abandoned crutches at the health resort. People arrived here on crutches and went back home in a month or two, leaving their crutches at the resort. After some time the number of crutches became so big that it was decided to get rid of the museum. One of the villagers took the crutches and made a fence of them around his garden.


A specific symbol of Elton is Gesner (Schrenk) tulips - large red tulips that bloom in the end of April. They can be seen only in hard-to-reach places of Volgograd Oblast. The flowers are listed in the Red Book.

The village of Elton has a petrol station, several shops and cafes. It is the only place where you can replenish stocks of gasoline and food within a radius of about 100 km.




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian lakes Elton    

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