Travel

Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine

We visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine on a tour from our hostel in Krakow. I was very excited as it was the thing I most wanted to see in Poland. It is a UNESCO heritage site to boot.

The tour takes 3 hours and it was definitely what we needed after the horror of Auschwitz which is a day trip from Krakow.

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We headed down the wooden stairs into the mine below, the boards were covered in graffiti from visitors over the years. There are 800 steps altogether.

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Salt was stuck to the walls and unsurprisingly, if you lick it then it tastes salty. I licked it (using my finger) so you don’t have to!

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It’s slightly worrying that the tunnels only appear to be held up by wooden posts. There are 300km of them in total, the deepest being 327m from the surface.

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People have worked in the salt mines for 900 years, salt used to be a more expensive commodity than it is today. The mine is spread over 9 levels, which showed some serious graft has been put it over those years.

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Let’s not forget the sterling work of these funny gnome men! Apologies for the very poor image but the rainbow lighting of the ‘miners’ amused me.

I’m not sure what story they are meant to tell, I assume they are made of salt. It’s truly amazing what can be sculpted out of salt…

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A church! That’s right and you can even married here, the caterers must certainly save money by not having to bring their own seasoning!

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Chapel of St Kinga

The church is called the Chapel of St Kinga and it took 30 years to make and 20,000 of salt had to be shifted out to make room for it. It is a mighty fine church though.

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I was intrigued by all the chandeliers and I have a lot of photos of them, I read somewhere that they are made from salt but this one surely isn’t. It looks like wood, glass and plastic to me.

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Another salty scene, unfortunately another dodgy photo but you can see the intricacy of the etching. Its amazing how the conditions preserve the salt, I bought a salt statue and it eroded due to the damp in the air. It was supposed to be an owl but ended up looking more like a salty stalagmite.

It’s not surprising that there is a sanatorium for asthma and allergies as part of the mine, as its conditions are thought to be healing.

I read a story that a Frenchman proclaimed the Wieliczka salt mine to be ‘no less impressive than the Egyptian pyramids.’

Whether than is true or a falsity made up by the Krakow tourist board, I would take that statement with a pinch of salt!

I did however, really love the salt mine, I just wish I had better pictures from when I visited in 2007 which is why I resorted to a couple of stock photos! I would certainly return given half the chance. I don’t think I could deal with Auschwitz again although it was important that I went.

It is worth descending down all the stairs and I unlike other mines I’ve been in it didn’t feel claustrophobic or dangerous at any point. It’s a very tourist-friendly mine!

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