weekend walks: wielickza salt mines
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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weekend walks: moscow’s metro stations
Although we were on the metro to get to the different stations, our weekend walk is taking you through some of Moscow’s most decorative metro stations.
Each one of the Metro stations is unique and grand in their own way, we just didn’t know where to look! There are statues, there are ornate ceilings, there are mosaic artworks, there are fancy light fixtures – Stalin’s vision of brilliance and radiance certainly was fulfilled! Each of the artwork represents different elements of the Soviet Union’s past.
The underground system opened in 1935. And really is an attraction in itself and worth witnessing. It left us in so much awe and gobsmacked!
The metro system is so efficient with trains arriving every minute (or so) during peak hour. Its cleanliness is also noticeable. There is no graffiti or rubbish anywhere! It certainly highlights that our train system in Sydney has room for improvement. Not that we are asking for marble or stain-glassed walls on the train platforms – just punctual and frequent trains 🙂
weekend walks: porto alegre goal walk
The mayor describes Porto Alegre as “a port where a community with multiple cultures and different ethnicities live in perfect harmony”. This is a really pleasant way to describe the city. It seems rather harmonious but obviously it is tough to know for sure with one of the world’s biggest event currently going on.
Today was game day in Porto Alegre – France vs Honduras and the “Goal Walk” from Mercado Público through to the stadium (Estadio Beira Rio) was filled with French supporters donning the flag and their faces painted red, white and blue! But let us share with you some of the historical district that we saw on our walk. The City Hall was inaugurated in 1901. There is a beautiful fountain at the front made of Spanish tiles and given as a gift by the Spanish Community in 1935. The fountain now appears to be a landing pad for pigeons. Alfândega Square is one of the most famous squares in the city. There is a park area that has local craft markets around along the pathways and an Art Museum at one end of the entrance. Today we didn’t have enough time to visit the museum but will be sure to get there during our time here. Nossa Senhora das Dores Church is the oldest church in the city, and took almost a century to complete. Its blinding white exterior drew us in to walk up all the steps to have a peak inside. And inside was beautiful. The inside smelt like any other Catholic Church: candles burning and “woody” if we can describe it like that. Out of respect for those inside, we didn’t take photos, so you will have to take our word that it was beautiful 🙂 The ceiling was painted in a soft green and the altar was rather extravagant. It was encased in white columns with gold tips and really was the “centrepiece”. We finished up our walk at the FIFA Fan Fest for the rest of the afternoon cheering at a big TV screen, sitting on muddy grass 🙂 Hope you enjoyed coming on a brief walk through a Brazilian World Cup Host City with us! Wise Monkeys Random Piece of Trivia: The 30°S Parallel South of the Earth’s equator passes through Porto Alegre hence that is the city’s latitude.
weekend walks: 3 museums of sydney
We went for a completely different type of walk this weekend – we visited three museums in Sydney that we hadn’t been to in a while.
Stop 1 – Sydney Jewish Museum
On the first Sunday of every month, entrance is free! So we were lucky to be there on June 1 🙂 There was an Anne Frank exhibit on, which reminded us of our time in Amsterdam visiting Anne Frank’s House. Walking through the museum is simply so moving, such a harsh reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and how war is good for no one.
Stop 2 – Art Gallery NSW
Entrance is always free except if you want to see the special exhibits and it is quite easy to lose a few hours wondering around in there. Our favourite rooms are the European art rooms on the main entrance level, makes us excited to be returning to Europe in July to explore the art galleries there once more 🙂
Stop 3 – Government House via Royal Botanical Gardens
It is one of the living museums of Sydney and a guided tour of the inside is available on Fridays through Sundays. The entrance is free and the tour guides are volunteers who share so much interesting information. We learnt about Government House and facts of the history of Sydney that we hadn’t (or don’t recall) learning at school!
It was a side of Sydney that we figured is listed in “Travel Guides” that we ourselves haven’t truly seen. So we played “tourists” in our own city. We were not disappointed!
To add to the distance we walked, we stumbled across the Wishing Tree in the Botanical Gardens. We made our wish and being superstitious we completed the ritual, getting ourselves dizzy circling the tree 🙂