Step down over 100 meters into the rocky earth beneath the Krakow and uncover a crazy cool world of salt. Wieliczka Salt Mine will have you heading deep underground, but you won't be stooping like one of the seven dwarfs, this place is huge!
When walking around Krakow, you may not be aware of the huge salty treats that take place in the nearby town of Wieliczka, but there is in fact an entire world filled with history, great stories and wonderful salt sculptures beyond what you could ever think possible. Wieliczka Salt Mine offers two different tours, the tourist route and the miners' route. Pick the one that suits you best and get ready for an ironically sweet experience.
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A salty fairytale
The legend of the mine dates back to the proposal of the Prince of Krakow to Princess Kinga. It is said that she threw her engagement ring into a mine shaft and when on the way to Krakow, stopped and told her travel party to dig at a certain spot. Embedded in the very first rock was her engagement ring, surrounded by salt and this is where the Wieliczka mine is today. Since then she was named the Patron Saint of Salt Miners.
Chapel of St. Kinga
One of the highlights of the trip is certainly the grand Chapel of St. Kinga. This chamber has all the beauties and details of a cathedral, apart from windows of course, but is entirely made of salt. See that wonderful chandelier glittering on the ceiling? Salt. Those statues and carvings? Salt. Even the intricate granite looking tiles on the floor are in fact just carved out of salt.
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Speaking of incredible carvings, make sure you stop to have a look at the replica of The Last Supper in the chapel. There is also an excellent depiction of Herod's judgement and the massacre of the innocents as well as statues of the Patron Saint of Miners and other religious figures. All these figures were hand carved from the very salt found in the mine, making the extra special.
Back breaking work
These mines are hundreds of years old dating back before the luxury of modern technology. In order to surface the salt, tunnels had to be dug, chambers were created, and interesting logistic feats were made. As you walk along the tourist route, you will be introduced to many of the contraptions used, such as the saxon-type horse treadmill they installed that would pull up to two tons. Quite a few horses worked and lived in the mines, including Basia, the last one to be employed, who since 2002 has been living out retirement in greener pastures.
Poland is a country that once evolved around salt. There is in fact a Polish saying that you don't know someone until you have eaten a barrel of salt together. You may not have time to eat a whole barrel of salt on your next trip to Krakow, but we hope you have the chance to get to know the city and its attractions like Wieliczka. While getting acquainted, stay with us at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Krakow and let us help you organize your trip to the mines.
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