We visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow Poland on a free guided tour. Wieliczka Salt Mine was one of the world’s oldest sale mines dating back to the 13th century. At hundreds of years old, the mine had extended to a depth of more than 300 metres and is now over 287 kilometres long. Our tour had only covered just a small fraction of the mine. According to the guide, it is impossible to explore the full length of the mine without getting lost.
Commercial operations at the salt mine had ceased since 1996 and the site is now a tourist attractions.
To get to the lower area, we had to climbed down about 100 metres on stairs like this. The journey seems like forever and by the time we reached the bottom we were already exhausted.
There are dozens of statues and four chapels which were carved out by the miners. The statues were created to depict the daily works of miners in the early days. Basic equipments like ropes and pulleys were use to mine salt, while animals like horses were utilised to provide the hard labour.
Ancient tools used hundreds of years ago were still well preserved in the underground condition.
The underground chapel of Wieliczka Salt Mine is breathtaking and it is really hard to imagine such an open area deep below the surface. This chapel, as well as others in the mine, were used by miners over the centuries. There were numerous art carvings on the rock salt wall including The Last Supper.
An underground lake with a high density of salt in the water. The guide told us that this is similar to the dead sea, everyone will float in it. Wieliczka Salt Mine is also constantly under threat of flooding by the underground water. If left unattended without maintenance, it will take just a few years to completely flood the mine.
Even further down the mine is a reception area where we had our dinner with other attendees of the conference. It is surreal to dine at over 100 metres underground, but we didn’t even felt anything unusual.
Wieliczka Salt Mine has a long and rich history, and is also a designated Poland’s official national Historic Monuments. 1.2 million visitors visit the mine annually and it is highly recommended if you are visiting Krakow.