Just outside Krakow is the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine, which produces table salt since the Neolithic times. This is ages ago! And from the 13th century on excavations happened here uninterrupted, so that the mine now reaches down to 327m.
As a visitor you don’t get deeper than 135m though and don’t see more than one percent of the 300km of tunnels. But who cares, as long as we can see the fabled Saint Kinga’s Chapel! Not that I knew anything about it, but someone mentioned it on the free walking tour. So we got tickets for the 1pm guided tour in English and descended into the mine through lots of tunnels and stairs.
It’s quite a long way down and the tunnels are set up in such a way that doors only open when others have been closed. This has probably to do with cases of fire and other emergencies. To make this trip a bit more entertaining, salt sculptures line the way. Okay maybe ‘line’ is exaggerated, but there are a few. Like Nicolaus Copernicus. He was one of the first visitors of the salt mine an this was reason enough to immortalize him in salt rock.
The salt is everywhere. On the water wheel, in the wooden beams, which become therefore hard as rock, and in the air, which is beneficial for asthmatics.
There are also quite a lot of chambers and chapels in this mine. Which is great because, if this is your wish, you can marry in one of it. I am not really sure what the allure of this could be, but to each his own. The greatest chamber is the Saint Kinga’s Chapel, a huge hall carved in the salt rock.
The details here are fantastic, starting with the floor
or this mural relief of ‘The last Supper’,
or this altar.
Sorry for the rather bad quality of my pictures. As you can imagine the lighting in the mine is not the best. In any case, the mine is a really wonderful experience. No wonder the Wieliczka Salt Mine has more than 1mio visitors each year. It’s truly something magical. Yors, Pollybert