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kopalnia soli wieliczka
Witalij B Posted on 1:08 pm

10 reasons why you should visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines Krakow

When you will be in Poland, for sure one of the first things you will hear is Salt Mine Krakow. Probably you will wonder why you should visit a mine?. Below you will find some interesting Wieliczka Salt Mine facts, after which you will see this mine place is unique, and that you have to visit it. Let’s start!

Wieliczka Salt Mine is over 750 years old!

The history of the Poland Salt Mines dates back to the 13th century. The collection and exploitation of brine in this area dates from the Middle Neolithic era.
wieliczka kopalnia soli salt mines krakow
phot. Archiwum Ilustracji WN PWN SA © Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN
As matter of fact, our ancestors created brine evaporation installations already in the prehistoric period. 

Most of the interior of this mine is made of salt and wood

Most of the tunnels with walls, floors, roofs and even crystal decorations and statues have been carved in salt. Of course, if you don’t believe it, you can touch almost anything and try it. Most importantly, wood was used to protect the walls and ceilings made of salt. That is why in the 15th century there were no forests near Wieliczka.

It was entered on the first-ever UNESCO list

Since 1978, the Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition, it is one of the oldest salt mines in the world.
kopalnia soli wieliczka, danilowicza, salt mines
photo: polska-org.pl

For example, the oldest document confirming its existence dates back to 1044. 

In the Middle Ages, salt mining generated 1/3 of Poland's income

It is very important that the income from salt mining accounted for as much as 1/3 of the income of the royal treasury in Poland. Salt was called „white gold” – considered a noble metal. Many transactions were paid with salt and workers were paid. This is also the reason why nowadays the term “salary” is used to describe earnings. As a result, tenement houses and royal residences were built. Family fortunes and big names grew out of the salt.

Breathe healthy air during your visit

The air in the Wieliczka Salt Mine is free from bacteria, viruses and pollutants. Most importantly, a visit can bring relief to people suffering from respiratory diseases and allergies. It also helps to cure the hangover.

The second biggest underground church in the world

First of all the mine offers many interesting attractions. The Wieliczka salt mine fact is that the only underground church in Europe – the Chapel of St. Kinga is situated there.

the Chapel of St. Kinga Salt Mines Wieliczka
photo: beztroskiewczasy.pl

Holy masses are held to this day on the occasion of the name day of St. Kinga and Christmas. 

It contains many unique machinery and structures

Additionally, there is the world’s largest mining machine made of wood. A horse treadmill from the 17th century, the horn of the miners' brotherhood from 1534. Also there are many other attractions decorating the tourist route. In the 17th century, the first horses were brought to the salt mine.

wieliczka salt mines, salt mine tour
photo: beztroskiewczasy.pl

There are two different routes to visit

The easiest and most popular is the Tourist Route. Certainly, it allows you to see the beauty of the mine and the most important parts of it. The distance is 3.5 km, the depth you will reach 135m. The second one is a bit more difficult, 1.9km long, with the deepest point at 101m. You will be wearing minening clothes and tools making you feel like a miner.

The mine doesn't work as it used to, but still produces salt

Nowadays the mine no longer extracts salt by using mining methods. Salt extraction was stopped in 1996.

salt mines krakow wieliczka
photo: beztroskiewczasy.pl

However, salt is still produced here from underground brine. It is pumped to the surface where it is transformed into pure evaporated salt. For instance, it is possible to buy original salt from Wieliczka.

Events and curiosities from the salt mine in Wieliczka

In 2004,  Mateusz Kusznierewicz (Olympic medalist, multiple world and European champion) visited mine for a rather unusual purpose. He was windsurfing on a 104 meters underground lake filled with brine. The lack of wind was not an obstacle, as the sailor was assisted by a huge blower. The man Bogdan Kopka performed the first underground bungee jump in the world. More precisely in the highest (available to tourists) Stanisław Staszic chamber in Wieliczka salt mine, located at a depth of 125 meters. The daredevil jumped head down from a height of 36 meters. All in all, it is not only mine. Beautiful interior, healthy air, interesting events and even holy masses. This place is definitely worth seeing, especially if you are in Krakow  take a salt mine tour.

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