A must visit on your trip to Krakow in southern Poland is without doubt the Wieliczka Salt Mine known as the underground salt cathedral of Poland. Located just 14 miles southeast of Krakow in the town of Wieliczka, this is one of the most famous salt mines in the world declared World Heritage Site by Unesco which has become a major tourist attraction with more than a million visitors each year. The Wieliczka Salt Mine originated in the Middle Ages and is still in production. The first references to Wieliczka mines dates back to 1044 and subsequently reached a great importance in the fourteenth century generating more than 30 percent of total revenues of the reign of Poland.
With a depth of 327 meters, it has over 300 kilometers of tunnels. Tourism in the mines dates back to the fourteenth century when acccess was allowed to visit to relevant members of the court of Polish kings. Tourist visits were promoted in the sixteenth century for a cultural purpose. Currently, the tourist route takes you out on a journey of two miles between the levels of 64 meters and 135 meters. When you arrive at the location of mines, find the large entrance building. In holiday periods such as the month of August when I had the occasion to visit you may have tourists lining up at the box office.
The route down the mines starts with a long deep staircase with 350 steps that need to be crosses to reach 135 meters depth. The temperature at that depth will be around 14-16 degrees Celsius. During the visit you’ll go over 20 long tunnels and chambers in which you will find exhibitions and objects related to the production of salt in the mine. Therefore you can find the ingenious systems used for salt extraction. But in your visit to Wieliczka mine you’ll also get to see numerous chambers where salt statues have been sculpted by miners throughout history. The vast majority are religious sculptures. They are true works of art that have given fame to these Polish mines. The maximum artistic expression to be found is undoubtedly the most important chamber of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. A large room called Chapel of St. Kinga which for its size is even used for music concerts.
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