Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland) – I want to visit here!!! (images revised)

Ooooooops…. I am not sure why… 😦 but for some or other reason some people are not able to view the photos in this post…. 😦 So I am trying this again (not quite sure what the reason for it would be… but here goes… let me know if it is indeed corrected!!! 😀

I have received another awesome email from one of my friends…. & now I have yet another place on my ‘places to visit’ list… oi…. can I live to be a 1000 years old??? 😉 Yet again, these are (unfortunately) not my photos… & I have no one to give credit to?? 😦 But a great piece of information accompanied with stunning images!! Enjoy!! 😀

“… Deep underground in Poland lies something remarkable, but little known outside Eastern  Europe. For  centuries, miners have extracted salt there, but left behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the most unusual salt mine in the world.

From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn’t look extraordinary, but it is extremely well kept for a place that hasn’t mined any salt for over ten years. Apart from that, it looks ordinary. However, over two hundred meters below ground  it holds an astonishing secret.

This is the salt mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground lake.

Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to 20 000 inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local Duke, to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it did just that. But the generations of miners did more  than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape  of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray.

Perhaps their most astonishing legacy is the huge underground cathedral they left behind for posterity.

As you descend into the depths of this world after a 150m climb down wooden stairs, the visitor to the salt mine will see some amazing sites. About the most astounding in terms of its sheer size and audacity is the Chapel of Saint Kinga.

The Polish people have for many centuries been devout Catholics and this was more
than just a long term hobby to relieve the boredom of being underground. This was an act of worship.

Amazingly, even the chandeliers in the cathedral are made of salt. It was not simply hewn  from the ground and then thrown together; the process is more painstaking for the lighting.

After extraction, the rock salt was first of all dissolved. It was then reconstituted with the impurities taken out so that it achieved a glass-like finish. The chandeliers are what many visitors think the rest of the cavernous mine will be like as they have a picture in their minds of salt as they would sprinkle on their meals! However, the rock salt occurs naturally in different shades of grey (something like you would expect granite to look like).

Over one million visitors yearly (mainly from Poland and its eastern European neighbours) visit the mine to see, amongst other things, how salt was mined in the past.

For safety reasons, less than one percent of the mine is open to visitors, but even that is  still almost four kilometers in length – more than enough to weary the average tourist after an hour or two.

The mine was closed for two reasons – the low price of salt on the world market made it too expensive to extract here. Also, the mine was slowly  flooding – another reason why visitors are restricted to certain areas only.

The religious carvings are what draw many to this mine – as much for their amazing verisimilitude as for their Christian aesthetics. The above shows Jesus appearing to the apostles after the Crucifixion. He shows the doubter, Saint Thomas, the wounds on his wrists.

Another remarkable carving is The Last Supper. The work and patience that must have gone into the creation of these sculptures is extraordinary. One wonders what the miners would have thought of their work going on general  display?

The cream of Europe’s thinkers have visited the site – you can still see many  of their names in the old visitor’s books on display.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the mine was placed on the original list of UNESCO  World Heritage Sites back in 1978.

A catastrophic flood in 1992 dealt the last blow to commercial salt mining in the area and now the mine functions purely as a  tourist attraction. Brine is, however, still extracted from the mine –  and then evaporated to produce some salt, but hardly on the ancient scale. If this was not done, then the mines wouldsoon become flooded once again.

Not all of the statues have a religious or symbolic imagery attached to them. The miners had a sense of humor, after all! Here can be seen their own  take on the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The intricately carved dwarves must have seemed to some of the miners a kind of ironic depiction of their own work.

The miners even threw in a dragon for good  measure!

To cap it all there is even an underground lake, lit by subdued electricity and candles. How  different a few minutes reflection here must have been to the noise and sweat of everyday  working life in the mine… “

Someday I’ll be posting my own photos of this breathtaking Salt Mine… you mark my words!!! 😉 Have you had the honour of visiting there? 🙂 **

Sorry about that guys… I really hope you are able to view these fantastic images this time around…. 🙂 **

40 thoughts on “Wieliczka Salt Mine (Poland) – I want to visit here!!! (images revised)

  1. m1nute

    Apparently there are health benefits attributed to this mine – the cleansing properties of salt on the respiratory system. If you Google Salt Pipe you can find out a bit of this history on the mine.

  2. johnstirlingphotography

    Grrrr! Sorry, Xandre, but I just can’t seem to get the photos from this post to come up on my screen!! It’s a great post but I want to see the piccies! Don’t know what to do to solve this one! Any helpers? Could it be the format of the photographs don’t work on the Mac? Sometimes I hit this issue with occasional websites? I’m really sad! Boo! Hoo!



    1. SL Schildan

      Hey, Xandre. The explanations are enticing, but they photos are icons and sadly missing.
      John, I am using a PC using the Google browser. I think I will try Firefox and see what happens.

  3. SL Schildan

    Hi, I tried Firefox and Internet Explorer. In Google my non images are large tall rectangular place holders with a square photo is not loaded icon in the middle. In Firefox I had wide rectangular place holders about the height of a single line of type. It made it easier to read the whole post without scrolling. In Internet Explorer I got the large placeholders with a small white box in upper left with a red “X” 😦 Still no images…. please pass the box of tissues.

  4. Robyn G

    I received this email last year and thought it was so amazing! Still do 😀
    You never know what’s around the corner..or underfoot.
    Such talent and dedication.
    (No pics, but I know the images..stunning!)

  5. johnstirlingphotography

    ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!’, Xandre! I am just blown away! You have really excelled yourself with this post, just as you did with your Tower Bridge post! This is a stunning place! Indescribable beauty! I can’t believe the work, the effort, the dedication and the artistic skill that has gone into creating all of this, below the surface of the Earth – in a salt mine of all places, by salt miners! It’s extraordinary in the extreme! You know, it is amazing how many people go about their everyday lives with amazing aesthetic skills that nobody else ever sees! Many of them should be artists in their own right, but either they themselves don’t think they are good enough or the opportunity to find, develop and show their skills never arises! Thanks for correcting the images, Xandre! It is really appreciated and was so totally worth it! Wow! Wow! Wow! That has made my day!



    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      Thanks John!!! Yes, me too thought correcting the images would be worth it…. it is beyond anything one can imagine for a salt mine!!! Hope I get such interesting information again soon!!! I’m loving it as much as you!!! 🙂 **

  6. Leanne Cole

    NOt if I get there first, wow what an amazing place. Not sure how I would go going underground, but the discomfort could almost be worth it. Thanks for the post, looks like the most amazing place.

  7. Rebecca

    Amazing! This is incredible Xandre! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve been wanting to go to Krakow – I’m told it’s even more beautiful that Warsaw and I thought Warsaw was gorgeous. And now I have another reason to book a visit. Some day!

    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      I’ve always wanted to visit Poland!!! Hopefully some day I’ll get the opportunity!!! More & more people saying that Warsaw is beautiful…. Make the visit to Krakow Becca… & be sure to post your photos!!! Now you’ve got a great reason to visit!!! 🙂 **

  8. island traveler

    Oh, my gosh, these are all amazing. The sculptures, the architectural craftsmanship and artistry are all beyond words. So beautiful and magnificent. Thank you. I wish to visit this place too one day…best wishes…..

  9. Pingback: John’s Mega Awards Ceremony! « John Stirling Photography

    1. Xandré Verkes Post author

      Wow!!! You are lucky lucky lucky!!! I don’t think many people know about it?? – I certainly didn’t – I can imagine that it’s cold…. hopefully I can experience it too some day!!! 🙂 **

  10. saymber

    magnificent pictures! You did a great job, professional level, of capturing the essence of the place and helped me feel like I was there too. Thank you!


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