Underground Treasure: Poland's Wieliczka Salt Mine

Alter in the chapel of Saint Kinga in the Wieliczka Sale Mine in Poland.

Alter in the Chapel of Saint Kinga in the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo: Brian Snelson

Deep in the underground of Poland near the center of Krakow lies a treasure of history and culture, preserved in an incredible state and welcoming over 1 million visitors each year. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the old Wieliczka Salt Mine is the most popular tourist attractions in Poland and offers a unique experience into the underworld civilization and local culture.

Working in the salt mine.  Photo:  Alexander Baxevanis

The Wieliczka Salt Mine produced table salt from the 13th century until 2006, when production was stopped and the mine became a tourist attraction. The main highlight of this mine is the exceptional underground cathedral carved into the salt rock, the several chapels and many statues that the salt miners have created along the centuries.  The most popular Chapel is the Chapel of St. Kinga which features a beautiful altars, a statue of pope John Paul II and a copy of the Last Supper.  Unfortunately, the Chapel of Saint Anthony is not available to visitors because it has been damaged by the elements.  While the cathedral and the chapels are a tourist focus, there are multiple other statues and monuments spread throughout the galleries like the salt rock chandeliers and the wooden Golgotha.  These date from ancient to contemporary times and are as equally impressive and other attractions in the mine.  The unique artistic works make the salt mine one of .  

Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.  Photo: "See Inside" Flickr

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is also an exceptional cultural venue, with a reception hall and a chapel where even weddings can be performed. The mine is an excellent venue for concerts and often hosts performances because of it superior acoustics.  Being regarded as a museum, the salt mine is also a place for exhibitions. Visiting the mine is a unique experience, with several routes that go deeper and deeper into the galleries, from the Tourist Route, the Miners Route and the Pilgrims Route, as well as several adventure experiences that take visitors in search of the mysteries of Wieliczka. The unique microclimate of the mine is also adaptable to health treatments, offering excellent health services to the patients. 

About the Author

Tonya Fitzpatrick is a “recovering attorney” who shares a life full of adventure, dark chocolate and champagne with her husband and business partner, Ian.   She has a deep love for animals and would be happy owning a zoo if she weren’t traveling. 

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