weekend walks: wielickza salt mines

Posted on Updated on

Wielickza Salt Mines is about 10km south of Krakow, Poland. It was built in the 13th century and is one of the world’s oldest salt mines. But… it’s not just any mine. It is filled with dozens of statues, three chapels and a cathedral.

To enter the mine, we needed to take a three-storey lift to head down the mine shaft to about 60-odd metres underground. Each of the lift capsules could hold about 9 people, so it was a tight squeeze.

IMG_1423

But once down there, it was FAR from “squeezy” anymore. Some parts had ceilings as high as 30 metres. There was a room where the horses working in the mines were kept, so you can imagine the size.

IMG_1506 IMG_1462

For about 3km, escorted by a guide, we followed the “Tourist Route” which covered about 20 chambers, 2 chapels and a cathedral. What we saw was so unique. Miners throughout the history of the mines carved the statues (out of rock salt) in the different chambers. There really was salt everywhere.

IMG_1508 IMG_1443 IMG_1447 IMG_1450 IMG_1457

IMG_1437

We head down some stairs to reach the lowest point of the mines accessible by visitors on this tour (about 100 metres below surface) and there we saw the manmade lake.

IMG_1466

IMG_1502

Without a doubt, the most astounding thing we saw was the cathedral, Chapel of St Kinga! The entire cathedral was carved by miners out of the rock salt, including the statues and images on the walls. The Last Supper was the only one carved out by a professional artist and not by the miners.

IMG_1484 IMG_1493 IMG_1489 IMG_1490 IMG_1495 IMG_1496

It was a wonderful way to spend a hot summer’s day because underground it was a pleasant 15° Celsius! And down this far, there are an eatery, toilets, souvenirs shops and historically, visitors could bungee jump or go up on a balloon ride!

The Salt Mines are a must if you ever find yourself in Poland.

Tip: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring warm clothing. And can you photograph inside the mines? Yep, but you will need to pay a small fee in addition to your entrance ticket.

Wielickza Salt Mines was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 1978.

To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, click here

 

Please leave us a comment here

weekly photo challenge: summer lovin’

Posted on

1931261_113264025410_2018_n

What says summer lovin’ to us?

In this picture:

The beach and sand shows summer 

PLUS

The act of kissing shows love

TOGETHER THIS EQUALS 

SUMMER LOVIN’

We snapped this photo while in Kangaroo Island over one Australian summer. Travelling together… that is OUR LOVE.

catherine palace: royal summer residence

Posted on Updated on

Catherine the Great in the 18th Century wanted a summer residence hence the construction of what is now known as Catherine Palace: the summer residence for Russian Tsars.

What we see today is a restoration of the original as during World War II, the Germans destroyed the palace. One of the most famous rooms is the amber room (the one room where photography is NOT allowed). This room was looted by Nazi Germany during the war and there were attempts to locate it whereabouts but it was never found. The room now has been restored to its original appearance, believed to have cost 11 million Euros.

The palace is so extravagant; it appeared that no expense was spared. It is reported that over 100 kgs of gold was used to gild the exterior.

IMG_0552 IMG_0549 IMG_0551

And internally the ornate wall carvings and ceiling are gilded in gold, while some of the rooms, the walls are covered in either silk, mirrors and/or oil paintings.

IMG_0558 IMG_0554 IMG_0557 IMG_0562 IMG_0567 IMG_0568

Even the ceilings are not forgotten, of course. Look up and it is very highly likely that it would be beautifully painted. Each room we enter seems more grand then the next. There is just no way to notice all the detail of every room. Upon reaching the ballroom, we admit that for a second we are swept back a few hundred years and picture ourselves waltzing…. Ok, so we didn’t picture the waltzing part, we actually did a 20-second waltz, but when you see the ballroom, you will understand why!

IMG_0560 IMG_0561

The gardens of Catherine Palace were not as impressive as that of Peterhof Palace. Interestingly, while Peterhof Palace was full of fountains, Catherine Palace did not have a single one. Catherine did not care for fountains so preferred to have a lake instead.

IMG_0577 IMG_0589

After one week in Russia, we have been awestruck by the lavish lifestyle that were had by the Emperors and Empresses.

Feel free to leave us a comment here

black magic in riga

Posted on Updated on

IMG_0908

It was in this very apothecary that a pharmacist concocted a remedy to cure Catherine the Great after she fell ill while visiting Riga. Riga’s Black Balsam is a mixture of 20+ ingredients (i.e. herbs/roots/oils etc) mixed with vodka and is said to cure over 100 diseases. It is now added to desserts and drinks.

As we step through the front doors of “Riga Black Magic”, the décor catches our eye before the display of chocolates and sweets do. Just inside to the left is an apothecary counter, and to the right a library with beautifully upholstered armchairs.

IMG_0907 IMG_0906

There is a hidden passage behind a bookshelf, there are flasks and glass bottles on the beams and along the walls.

IMG_0903

Walk a little further in, and we are in an era when there is no electricity and the only light comes from the flames of candles. But the dimness does not create a sinister ambience. Although, the idea of being in a “black magic” bar could conjure up images of potions and concoctions, it is in fact, the contrary; with the classical music in the background, the atmosphere, to us, almost feels like an elegant dinner party.

IMG_0902 IMG_0894 IMG_0890

In the back room, we take a seat on a comfortable lounge and staff in medieval costume take our order. We can now sit back, sip our hot chocolate, absorb our surroundings and rest our feet after a day’s walking around the old town.

IMG_0895

What a lovely little place to visit: to taste delectable chocolate, Riga Black Balsam or for a sticky beak of the fit-out. Add “Black Magic” to your list if you are ever in Riga.

Please leave us a comment here