Thursday, August 01, 2019

NORTHERN HIGHLIGHTS TOUR - KRAKOV SALTMINE - POLAND



Only 15 km from Krakow our bus drove us to the Wieliczka Salt Mine one of the oldest in the world built in the 13th century continuing table salt production right up until 2007, making it one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. Today salt is no longer mined in Wieliczka, but this original underground complex is preserved in a great condition, making it a world-class monument. Wieliczka Salt Mine was recognised in the UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List due to its breathtaking underground chambers carved entirely in salt.

We were warned, we had to walk a lot down the mine.

It started with the first shaft to Level I of the mine. It is situated 64 m underground, and we had to go down 380 stairs. The next levels lead us even deeper,  135 m more in the underground. In  total there are 800 steps along the whole route. Going down was Ok, fortunately we didn't have to go up the steps but took a funny elevator. Difficult to describe there were 3 or 4 cabins one on top of the other and we were squeezed inside like sardines in a can. When the elevator stopped the load of the first cabin walked out then went down so that the second cabin could be liberated etc. We all laughed inside because nobody had ever taken a lift like this. Fortunately none of us was claustrophobic !



It certainly was a very amazing mine, not at all what I had imagined. I had thought we would see raw salt rocks and how it had been cut out and carried to the surface, instead we walked miles and miles of long corridors, covered with wood and I didn't see any salt, but the air was smelling so pure and the walls tastedd salty, I tried it.



Everywhere you could see saints in salt or Marys in salt, in short a very catholic mine !

On the last level there was the chapel of St. Kinga, where on Sunday mornings a mass is held and couples get married here ! I think these people are very brave to go down 800 steps to attend a mass !



Everything you see here is made out of salt.



Due to the dim light, my pictures are not so good, but still gives an idea of what I have seen.








Down the 800 steps !



It looks like stone but is sculptured out of salt !



Horses were used to pull the wagons filled with salt. According to the guide they were very well taken care of ... but the poor things never saw daylight and a field ! But the air is very good and so not so terrible like the horses working in coal mines.







and we walked and walked and listened to the guide, sometimes the long corridors were interrupted by a religious sculpture in a corner.



An underground lake looked very beautiful in turquoise colors



A huge bassin filled with salt water



and finally I could see some real raw salt blocks



There also was a souvenir shop deep underground and of course out of salt.



There also was a restaurant which was closed, as it was quite late.

We then took the elevetor cabins, squeezed together by 5 or 6 people depending on each others volume !

It had been a very interesting tour, but for me the mine was not a mine anymore and I could hardly imagine people doing their very hard work here. With all  these underground lakes, pits and chambers that have been made into detailed chapels, and an array of statues and monuments, all carved from salt it didn't look at all like a mine to me. Maybe because I had visited a coal mine which of course was completely different.




Linking to One Liner Wednesday

5 comments:

mamasmercantile said...

What a wonderful tour you took us on, it was a delight to do the tour with you and view it all through your eyes.

wisps of words said...

Yes, I can see how they went overboard on the "decoration" stuff. And it no longer seemed like the _mine_ it originally was. But I suppose, this effect, brings in more tourists. ,-)

✨ūüíõ✨

William Kendall said...

I have heard of this place at some point. The chapel is very impressive!

Loree said...

What an amazing place. I had seen some photos of it on the internet. I do not think I would have liked the elevators. I am not claustrophobic (at least I don't think so) but I hate being squashed up against people I don't know.

Fun60 said...

Gosh! All those steps. The sights are worth the effort though.

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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