Wieliczka, salt mine, which you do not know
Mining is the reconstruction of the mountains. By exposing valuable deposits hidden inside. By mining underground treasures to the surface. Miners say so.
WIELICZKA SALT MINE
The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine was once a powerful mining plant, now it is one of the biggest attractions in our country and is also the most visited mine in the world. Thanks to its unique natural, historical and cultural value, it was inscribed on the first UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978 as one of twelve objects – Krakow Auschwitz Salt Mine tour
Where did such huge salt deposits come from? Of course, from the sea that covered southern Poland millions of years ago. Further layers of salt were deposited at its bottom, which were piled up along with the Carpathian Mountains. Wieliczka salt was known even before the pyramids, because peoples before 5,000 for years it brewed salty spice from surface brines. Rock salt was discovered in the mid-thirteenth century, which gave rise to the construction of the mine. The town created above the rich deposits was called “Magnum Sal”, meaning Wielka Salt.
Do you know the saying “pay dearly”? It was established for a reason. In the Middle Ages, salt was one of the most important and expensive raw materials, referred to as white gold. Salt mining accounted for up to a third of the revenue in the royal treasury! Thanks to him, numerous castles and churches were built, the salaries of the academic staff were financed, and royal forces were paid.
At the end of the nineteenth century, salt deposits began to shrink, and the quality of the extracted salt diminished inexorably. Salt mining is no longer profitable. In 1996, the industrial stage in the mine finally ended and the process of securing the underground heritage began. Although salt is no longer extracted on a massive scale, the mine is still bustling with mining life. The mine is constantly working on securing existing and including new corridors and chambers in the tour route. It is also planned to launch an underground railway. All this to preserve as much as possible of the underground world for future generations. After all, Wieliczka is a unique monument of mining history and unique on a global scale.
SALT MINE IN NUMBERS
- 2,391 chambers
- 245 km of corridors
- 9 levels of underground tunnels
- 327 meters – hollow tunnels descend to this depth
- 4% – this percentage of the mine is open to the public (Tourist Route along with the Krakow Saltworks Museum + Mining Route)
I would not like to write about it, talk about the route step by step, chamber by chamber. I will not spoil the surprise and overtake the guide’s stories. I will focus on some important information. The rest you have to register underground on your own – strong impressions guaranteed.
It is for her tourists from all over the world, and there are nearly 2 million per year. The Tourist Trail allows you to see the most beautiful places in the mine. It leads through breathtaking chambers and underground lakes, shows traces of ancient mining work, historic chapels and amazing sculptures made of salt. The Tourist Route consists of over 20 chambers (including the Chapel of St. Kinga – causing admiration for the most resistant tourists), about 2.5 km of corridors and 800 stairs.
The beginning of the route begins in the Daniłowicz Shaft. There we meet with a guide who will accompany us during the tour and tell about the history and work of miners. The guides are not accidental. Most of them are retired miners who know the mine well.