weekend walks: wielickza salt mines

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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39 thoughts on “weekend walks: wielickza salt mines

    top 5 unexpected travel gems « wise monkeys abroad said:
    January 6, 2015 at 11:45 am

    […] Climbing into a 3-storey shaft lift was only the beginning of one of THE MOST incredible places we have visited. An underground city, quite literally, that was carved out of […]

    Marina said:
    August 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve been here when I was in high school with my classmates. I didn’t have any expectations but I must admit it was one of the best thing I’ve ever seen!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      August 26, 2014 at 2:04 am

      Yes, we had no expectations because we didn’t look it up online so actually didn’t know what to expect! It is one of the coolest things we’e seen 🙂 Thanks for visiting our blog!

    our first month in review « wise monkeys abroad said:
    August 10, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    […] we experienced awe as well as sadness. There were moments of joy and wonderment as we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines, walked around the Old Town of Krakow and be impressed at the restoration efforts of Warsaw. Then […]

    Packing my Suitcase said:
    August 2, 2014 at 12:16 am

    How amazing.. I’ve never been in a mine before! I would love to do that…you pictures are amazing as always! 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      August 2, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Aww thank you for such kind words 🙂 Well maybe you can add this to your bucket list and hopefully you can see it in the future!!!

        Packing my Suitcase said:
        August 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm

        You’re welcome 🙂 yes, I already added it!! I have a Word document where I save some travel tips, and I already saved yours 😀

    Savvy Kenya (@savvykenya) said:
    July 31, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    How beautiful, hope to visit it someday.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      August 1, 2014 at 1:47 am

      We hope you do get to visit Poland – these mines are simply stunning as is the parts we did see. So much more too explore 🙂

    worldjourneysdiscover said:
    July 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Great photos. I remember we werent allowed to take pics down there when I went 10 years back. Or maybe it cost extra and I was a cheap skate….

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 30, 2014 at 12:46 am

      LOL! Things change and we definitely had to buy a photo licence but totally worth it 🙂
      Thanks for for your comment!

    Adam @ Travel Ideaz said:
    July 29, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Amazing pics guys!! Love the one of the walkway – don’t know if that’s the right word – seemingly hanging off the rock face. Hope you’re having a great time!

    Diana said:
    July 28, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    I am just living vicariously through you and your posts and photos! Ha, ha, ha…you have been to all the places I have been, but saw all the stuff I did not get to see! Lucky for me to see your fab pics. Looks like an amazing outing!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 3:06 am

      It was a wonderful experience 🙂 and we are glad that we can share it with you!! But one day, you should try and get to all these places again to visit everything you didn’t 🙂

        Diana said:
        July 29, 2014 at 5:16 am

        Yes I know! My sis always says when there is stuff you don’t get to see on your list, it just means you are destined to go back! In the meantime – I have you! 🙂

          wisemonkeysabroad responded:
          July 29, 2014 at 5:18 am

          Your sister is a wise woman 🙂 Well we hope we don’t disappoint in the meantime 🙂

    Bemused Backpacker said:
    July 28, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Wow, that cathedral is just unbelievable!

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Isn’t it just incredible? We were stunned – to think of the talent of the miners to create something so spectacular!

        Bemused Backpacker said:
        July 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

        Not just the talent but the time and energy, given what a demanding and dangerous job they had! Seriously impressive. Great article, I’m really happy I read it.

    Deepika said:
    July 28, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Cool shots. And chapels inside salt mines….. Now I can’t decide what’s cooler 🙂

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Tell us about it! We were simply blown away especially after seeking the cathedral 🙂

    the eternal traveller said:
    July 28, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    We went to a 5000 year old salt mine in the Austrian Alps near Hallstatt. It was amazing and we went down two slides. It didn’t have these stunning sculptures though. Gorgeous.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Yes, one of our other readers mentioned going down slides! How awesome 🙂 Next time we are in Austria, will have to track those mines down!! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you are well!

    wrightsolution said:
    July 28, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Very interesting to see. Thanks for sharing.

    Vlad said:
    July 28, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Beautiful pictures, the sculptures and carvings are stunning! We have quite the salt mines in Romania as well, so if you ever come here, I’ll make sure to recommend you some 😉

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 12:50 am

      Ahhhh!! Awesome, thanks for that Vlad! It will be on our list next time we are planning to be around that way 🙂 Hope you are well!

    CrazyChineseFamily said:
    July 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I have been in some kind of mine somewhen during a school trip long time ago and I must say, it was not even close as cool as the saltmine you visited. We had just darkness and some mining tools :p

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 29, 2014 at 12:48 am

      When we think of mining, we think of exactly what you describe 🙂 So you can imagine our utter surprise when we saw what we did!! Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂

    thetravellush said:
    July 28, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Those salt mines look awesome! And the detail in the Chapel of St Kinga is absolutely incredible 🙂 What inspired them to build chapels below ground in a salt mine?

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 28, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Religion was a big part of every day life. And being a miner as you know is dangerous work and was 8 hours of work per day below the surface for them. The miners were considered though to have quite a “prestigious job” then because salt was very valuable. All of these probably added to having chapels below ground – it was almost like an “underground world”.
      The mines were awesome so add them to your list if you are thinking of going to Poland 🙂

    LyndaS said:
    July 28, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Unbelievable! Your photographs are great (as always). I have only been to a salt mine in Salzburg and that was a lot of fun riding down a slide. I don’t think it really compares, though, to Wielickza Salt Mines.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 28, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Hi Lynda! You got to ride a slide? Sounds like fun! This was our first visit to a salt mine 🙂
      We were so pleasantly surprised with the visit to these mines! Hope you had a lovely weekend!

    milfordstreet said:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:52 am

    Nice shots…I visited last spring and really enjoyed the mine. You did a great job capturing the highlights.

      wisemonkeysabroad responded:
      July 28, 2014 at 3:54 am

      Thank you for your kind words 🙂 It really was an enjoyable place to visit! We love visiting places now where we choose not to research too much about beforehand so that we are pleasantly surprised 😉

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