Worth Its Salt: Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine
If you’re in Krakow, Poland, and hear people say they’re “heading back to the salt mine,” they might be serious.
Although it’s a figurative phrase for many reluctantly heading back to work, school, or a tedious task, the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow is a real place. Workers began chipping away at this mine in the 13th century.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the salt mine has been attracting tourists and travelers for hundreds of years with its underground chapels, chambers, and statues carved from salt.
Today more than one million visitors explore Wieliczka Salt Mine each year, seeing just a fraction of its 2,000+ saline caverns.
Over two miles of walkways feature chambers and chapels carved from rock salt by professional sculptors and self-taught miners back in the 19th and 20th centuries. Chandeliers are made from salt, lighting up nooks, crannies, and caverns and illuminating the way to an underground saline lake. It may be hard to imagine, but windsurfers, bungee jumpers, and even hot-air balloonists have made their mark here. View rudimentary mining equipment, and learn how mining evolved over the years and centuries with more complex mining tools and mining techniques.
If religious figures aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps Disney is. A tongue-in-cheek cave is carved with Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, “heigh-ho-ing off to work” in the mine – diamond mine, that is.
Travel to Poland with MIR
Little over two decades after regaining its independence, Poland has become one of the powerhouses of Europe. Visit the gracious capital of Warsaw and lovely Krakow, stroll the beaches of the Mazury Lake District, hike the trails of the spectacular Tatra Mountains, talk to the local people and you will agree with us.
MIR has over two decades of travel experience to Poland, with on-the-ground support, and tour managers that clients rave about. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
MIR has two itineraries that visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine:
- MIR’s wintery small group tour to Poland, Christmas Traditions of Poland, is perfect for travelers of any age. Celebrate the heartfelt holiday traditions of Poland, wandering Krakow’s brilliant Christmas Market and joining a Polish family in their Warsaw home for the intimate Christmas Eve feast called Wigilia, where you can sample 12 different traditional dishes.
- Or, opt to travel to Poland any time of the year on our Essential Poland independent journey or on a custom private journey – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace.
(Top photo credit: Polish National Tourism Board – miners depicted working in the Wieliczka Salt Mine)
PUBLISHED: September 22, 2014