Wieliczka Salt Mine is where you may feel trapped underground for a while, but never as if it was a tourist trap! Visited by over 1.2 million tourists a year, this place – often referred to as «Krakow Salt Mine» – incessantly gets enthusiastic visitor reviews for the sensations it provides.
WHAT TO SEE IN WIELICZKA SALT MINE
Wieliczka Salt Mine is the top tourist attraction near royal Krakow, along with the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as early as in 1978. Its underground interiors are a superb testimony to human effort, technological thought and the forces of nature. A unique monument to industrial history, with the mine having continuously operated between the 13th century and 2007. A fascinating mix of timber structures and nine-level corridors & tunnels of the total length of 287 kilometres. A set of spacious chambers and chapels carved in the salt rock, with its works of art sculpted with the hands of miners. An attraction to see, touch, lick (you will find out what it means during your sightseeing of Wieliczka) and breathe in, due to the health-giving properties of its microclimate.
THE BEAUTY OF WIELICZKA IN PICTURES
This underground kingdom of salt, lit by marvellous chandeliers, has its beauty perfectly absorbable by human eye. At the same time, not every camera may capture the real impression of Wieliczka Salt Mine. This is why we have collected some professional and amazing pictures of Wieliczka for you to see exactly what you can expect from your Krakow to Wieliczka tour. In order to get some info on its organisational aspects, feel free to click here for such details. But now – it is time for pure visual pleasure!
#1 THE CHAPEL OF ST. KINGA
The tourist route of Wieliczka Salt Mine encompasses 22 chambers and chapels connected by a network of variously reinforced tunnels. The Chapel of St. Kinga is the most representative place of the mine. Its dimensions of 54 m x 18 m x 12 m, wonderful chandeliers, statues and bas-reliefs wholly made of salt, make it extremely pictureworthy! The chapel was hewn in this edible mineral by two visionary brothers throughout 30 years of their incredible effort. Finished in 1895, the temple could be created after over 20,000 tonnes of rock salt had been extracted and removed overground.
#2 SACRAL ART MADE OF SALT
The altarpiece of the Chapel of St. Kinga is composed of a saline statue of St. Kinga, carved by Jozef Markowski in1914 and adorned with the crystals of halite. This largest and deepest (at 101 metres below the ground level) temple of the world is where masses, wedding ceremonies and concerts are held, due to its excellent acoustic properties.
#3 WIELICZKA - A PLACE WHERE SALT TAKES ITS REIGN
You are about to enter the world of salt – be prepared for the presence of this white substance literally everywhere you turn your head at! Taking on the forms of stalactites and stalagmites, the natural shapes crystals of salt can adopt make them another attraction of Wieliczka, on par with the handmade works of art you will see there.
#4 THE UNDERGROUND TRAILS OF WIELICZKA
800 steps is what you will either have to climb or descend during this 2-to-3-hour tour of Wieliczka. You will only notice the complexity of the tourist trail of Wieliczka Mine as you raise your head, turn your back or look down. This is because there are so many other eye-catching wonders of Krakow Salt Mine present there that the physical effort you possibly take there is something you will not even experience as really affecting you.
#5 IMPRESSIVE TIMBER STRUCTURES
Michalowice chamber is 35-metre high and has been reinforced with the most impressive timber structure of Wieliczka Salt Mine. The framework of wooden logs reaches the salt-rock carved ceiling of the chamber and constitutes one of the favourite objects of pictures taken inside Wieliczka Salt Mine by tourists.
#5 WIELICZKA GNOMES
Kunegunda Shaft is where you will see numerous gnomes of salt doing their mining job with smiles on their faces. This is how miner artists would imagine the dwellers of the underground space of Wieliczka. There will also be beautiful saline forms of secondary salt crystallisation accompanying these images, as if competing for your attention with these pleasant manmade sculptures.
#5 THE LEGENDS OF WIELICZKA
Janowice chamber will expose you to a couple of Polish legends associated with the history of Wieliczka Salt Mine. The salt-carved scene above shows the tale of Hungarian Princess Kinga who, prior to her marriage with Prince Boleslaw V the Chaste of Krakow, wondered what the best dowry to him would be. Discovering that there were no salt mines in Poland, she threw her ring into the depth of Maramaros mine of Hungary. When she arrived in Krakow, a lump of salt was suddenly found in Wieliczka. There was the same ring of Princess Kinga coming to the light after the lump was split in two.
#6 SALT-ROCK CARVED BASS RELIEFS
The Biblical bass reliefs of salt may be seen on the walls of the Chapel of St. Kinga. Most of them came from under the chisels of gifted miners of Wieliczka themselves.
#7 THE UNDERGROUND CHAPELS…
The Chapel of St. Cross is placed inside a chamber carved in the 19th century and puts Baroque wooden sacral statues on display. This is where Wieliczka miners would pray for safe return to the overground world.
#8 … AND LAKES OF WIELICZKA
The Weimar chamber of Wieliczka is famous for the great play of lights and sounds that may be seen there. With its name devoted to the birthplace of J.W. Goethe, it has a viewing platform stretched over a saline lake, adorned with the statue of «Skarbnik» – the legendary good spirit of mines, warning miners against danger with his emergence.
#9 THE SECRETS OF MINING
The Salt Mine of Wieliczka makes you also enrich your knowledge on the complex process of salt extraction worked out throughout centuries. This is just one example of a realistic installation of models of miners using their tools in their natural underground surroundings.
#10 THE WINDING UNDERGROUND TUNNELS
The exploitation of workings in Wieliczka Salt Mine lasted for seven centuries. Due to the development of digging or mining techniques, as well as the diversified structure of the mine, the passages and tunnels of Wieliczka surprise with the variety of cross-sections, reinforcements and courses they take.
#11 WIELICZKA AS A TRIBUTE TO OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS
The Chamber of Nicolaus Copernicus was created in 1785. The 500th anniversary of the birth of this famous astronomer was commemorated with the unveiling of his effigy of salt there, sculpted by Wladyslaw Hapek in 1973. There is also a number of other salt-made monuments present in the depths of Wieliczka - these include the effigies of kings, artists, scientists and politicians.
#12 IMPRESSIVE MINING MACHINERY OF WIELICZKA
The mining equipment that was necessary for extracting the impressive amount of salt rocks from the ground has its share devoted to in the exhibitions of Wieliczka Salt Mine. In particular, the wooden mining machinery has been preserved and arranged in a way that lets you gain an insight into the methods of salt exploitation.
#13 THE CREATIVE USE OF SALT
The precision in using salt as a material for one’s works of art is impressive when considering the fragility of its crystals when exposed to water. The final shape of most sculptures or bass reliefs of Wieliczka leaves you wondering whether what you have just seen was really made of salt or maybe there was marble used instead.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is a special place where you will forget of the outer world, succumbing yourself to the eerie aura of the underground space where no sunlight has a chance to reach. Visit Wieliczka to see that the outcome of man vs. nature clash results in releasing the deserved beauty out of hard salt rocks, proving that there are no borders to human imagination.