Ever wondered how salt is made? Have you ever wondered if it would be fun to go to a real salt mine? Check out Wieliczka Salt Mine, in southern Poland. Located within Krakow’s metropolitan area, the mine has been producing table salt since the 13th century until 2007.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine tour attracts some 1.5 million tourists per year. The tour includes a 3.5 kilometer route for visitors. That is less than 1% of the total length of the salt mine. Along the route are sculptures carved out of rock salt. These sculptures include historical and mythical figures. The oldest sculptures were done by the miners; the recent ones by contemporary artists. Even the mine’s chandeliers are made of rock salt.
Aside from the sodium figures, there is also a huge chamber with walls resembling those of a chapel’s built by miners centuries ago. There is also an underground lake, plus an exhibit on the history of salt mining.
Taking photos is very much encouraged inside the mines. So if you’re quite the shutterbug, this is a good place to capture new, interesting subjects. Take pictures of the carvings of the Last Supper, or of a statue of Pope John Paul II.
Notable people who have visited the mine include Nicolas Copernicus, Johann Wolfgang van Goethe, Pope John Paul II, and former US President Bill Clinton, to name a few. During the Second World War, the occupying Germans used the mine for war-related industries.
To reach the 64-meter depth of the mine, tourists go down a wooden stairway. The tour goes along the 3-kilometer trail, chapel, statues and lake. At the end of the tour, tourists ride an elevator back up to the surface. Back on the streets, you might feel as if you have just been to a different world, 135 meters underground.