Home / NEWS / Poland’s Magnificent Wieliczka Salt Mine Is More Like a Fairy Tale Castle Which Will Blow Your Mind

Poland’s Magnificent Wieliczka Salt Mine Is More Like a Fairy Tale Castle Which Will Blow Your Mind

By Andrew Alpin, 4 November

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The Wieliczka salt mine is a historical landmark that has been around since the 13th century and has been designated as such by UNESCO. The mine provided huge wealth for Poland. Natural treasures like underground lakes and intricate salt carvings have also helped it become a cultural treasure trove. The salt mine is in southern Poland, near Krakow. Royalty and global leaders have been hosted in the mine’s caverns, and it was even the site of an attempt to set a world record for underground ballooning. Nearly 450 feet underground, visitors can explore some of the mine’s 152-mile-long passageways.

1 Mining started in the 1300s

Over the years, the caverns that were made from digging have been transformed into places straight out of a fairy tale. There are now large halls lit by salt chandeliers, chapels dedicated to Polish saints, and walkways that give a magnificent view of the underground lakes.

Many miners became artists after they were done with their dangerous job. They would carve intricate designs into the rock salt. In 1996, mining stopped, and the area is now mostly used by tourists. You can still take walking tours of the mine that take you almost 450 feet underground.

Mining started in the 1300s

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2 St. Kinga’s chapel

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is about 10 miles from Krakow, one of Poland’s oldest cities. The building at the entrance to the mine is pretty small compared to what’s down there. At a depth of 330 feet, St. Kinga’s chapel is one of the most impressive rooms you can reach. It has chandeliers and religious symbols carved into the salt walls.

St. Kinga’s chapel

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3 St. Kinga is the patron saint of miners

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St. Kinga is a very important saint in Poland and Lithuania. She is the patron saint of miners, and Wieliczka is a tribute in her honor, as you might expect. In a later scene, she is featured carved entirely out of salt. After going down a grand staircase, you come to a large hall with carvings on the walls and a shrine to St. Kinga at one end. In fact, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is carved into a rock salt wall in St. Kinga’s chapel.

St. Kinga is the patron saint of miners

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4 Miners would pray before beginning the dangerous mining operations

Before they began this dangerous work, the miners at Wieliczka prayed. Almost everything you see in these mines was made by carving salt. However, wet air moving up the shaft has caused some damage to the carvings, which is sad. But to stop cave-ins, the miners built a wooden structure passageway called a “box crib.”

Miners would pray before beginning the dangerous mining operations

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