Day 20: Wieliczka Salt Mine

Front entrance to the salt mine

Today we had the chance to tour the Wieliczka Salt Mine just outside of Krakow. This mine was in active operation for the production of table salt from its opening in the 13th century until 2007. It contains an impressive array of statues and chapels carved from the salt mostly by miners with a few more contemporary exceptions. It cost money to have permission to take pictures in the mine so I have included some images of what we saw from Google with appropriate credit.

Roughly 400 steps leading downward

Salt carving of Nicolaus Copernicus (Photo source: Google Images)

Of course the first thing we had to do upon arriving at the mine was go down to where the channels have been excavated. To get the first level covered on the tour, we climbed down nearly 400 steps on winding wooden staircase. Throughout the long and winding corridors we would encounter as the tour went on, there were many carved statues of miners, legends, and of notable guests. Guests of significance have included Nicolaus Copernicus, Fryderyk Chopin, Pope John Paul II, and Bill Clinton among others. Although the mine reach a depth of 327 meters, we only journeyed so far as to half of this depth. I was most displeased with the number of mannequins decorating the exhibits because I have always had a slight irrational fear of mannequins.

The largest chapel in the mine (Photo source: Google Images)

Catholicism is hugely popular in Poland and the minors clung to their religious beliefs as hope that they would survive the mine’s many dangers. Throughout the mine there are several chapels which are decorated with salt carved statues or with wood preserved by the salt. The largest chapel took 67 years for three miners to excavate and decorate through carvings and includes large salt crystal chandeliers. This chapel is still an active church and is used for Catholic mass every week.

We were all very tired after waking up early to travel to the mine and from walking through it so after lunch we retired to our rooms for some much needed rest.

Lunch at Bobby’s Burgers

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