The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Poland and it plays host to over one million visitors each year. So what makes it so popular? For a start it’s a unique attraction, being one of only two such facilities in the world (the other also being located in Poland). As well as being unique there are a number of stunning things to see such as an underground lake, many different sculptures, four stunning chapels, as well as a museum. All in all it’s something well worth seeing during your trip to Krakow.
A little bit of history
Rock salt was first discovered in Wieliczka in 13th century and the first shafts were dug. This led to many more shafts being dug over time, with the mine going down as far as 327 metres and being over 287 kilometres long. During the Second World War the chambers were used by the German forces for ad-hoc war-related industries, as well as seeing several thousand Jews transported here from prison camps in Plaszow and Mielice, however at this time the Soviet offensive was nearing so no manufacturing actually took place. In 1978 the salt mine earned its place on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, eventually being joined by its sister mine in nearby Bochnia in 2010.
Wieliczka Salt Mine tour and sightseeing
Wieliczka Salt Mine tour itself consists of roughly three kilometres of corridors and 800 steps. You begin your journey at the Danilowicz shaft where you will meet your guide. As you travel further and further down you will discover more and more unusual places and things, such as the aforementioned underground lake, four chapels, as well as a number of amazingly crafted sculptures. The sculptures are a mixture of historical ones, as well as some which have been created in recent years by the best handpicked artists. The guides are of course extremely knowledgeable about the mines and are an encyclopedia of knowledge, as well as being able to tell you about a number of legends such as the one about Princess Kinga and how she brought salt treasure to the Polish land.
As well as serving as a popular tourist destination, Wieliczka Salt Mine also has a number of other functions. Nowadays the mine plays host to concerts, sporting events, business meetings as well as being home to a restaurant. There is also a health resort located underground which offers a number of different treatments. The air is extremely healthy down in the mine due to the unique micro-climate, the air being free of pollution, allergens, and also being rich in nutrients. The air in the mine is said to be very beneficial for sufferers of respiratory diseases such as asthma due to this. The mine can also be a particularly pleasant place to visit in the heat of the summer, as despite the outside temperature the micro-climate means that underground it is always a steady temperature of 14-16c.
Guide Krakow can help arrange your trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine by arranging return transfers including an educational film on the bus plus a professional tour guide. For more information please see Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour.