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Poland, Wieliczka – History Above the Ground

Published: 13.2.2019
When one hears about Wieliczka, perhaps every one of us will come across the famous salt mine in southern Poland. This city of the same name offers tourists not only the beauty of their underground, but it also pays off to explore what it offers above ground. Before looking into the ancient depths, we walk through the monuments in the streets that remind us of the rich history of this mining town.

If you choose, like we did, Krakow, you should certainly not miss a visit to Wieliczka, which is approximately 10 kilometers from the city. Although many bus or train connections operate from Krakow to Wieliczka every day, we have chosen a car. There was no problem with parking right out of the morning, as you will find a paid parking at every turn. We parked directly for money. Even before the discovery of salt beauty in the underground, we have focused on the monuments in close proximity to the mines and the historic center.

John Paul II tree alley (Wieliczka)

Town rights were acquired by the town of Wieliczka in 1290 by King Přemysl II. and in the Middle Ages it was called Magnum Sal (Great Salt in Latin). The centuries-old history of the city is mainly associated with salt marshes and salt production that have made this region famous. Even the sights of the city remind you of this rich history page. That we found ourselves in a mining town suggests its coat of arms made of gold mining hammer and crocodiles on a blue background. During the reign of King Kazimier the Great, a checkered urban division of the city was created, as well as the walls of 29 bases, but only one and two gates were preserved - the gate of Krakow and Klos.

The mining history may give the impression of destroyed, ugly countryside, but Wieliczka is a town where you can relax in the park or in another green slope. And it is from the large park of St. Kingy by a salt mine(Danilovicz's shaft) continues the picturesque Alejana of John Paul II. This pedestrian zone was built in 1998 and takes you to the city center.

Sztygarówki - Szkoła Górnicza and the Salinarne Museum (Wieliczka)

On the edge of the alley, you will notice a Gothic revival building of the Sztygarówki - Szkoła Górnicza red brickworks and the Salinarne Museum. The building designed by the architect prof. Tadeusz Dołęga-Mostowski was built in 1898 in honor of Emperor Franz Joseph I. on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his government. Initially, the building was a mining school and a museum, but the District Office is now home to it.

Zamek Żupny (Wieliczka)

A little further is the entrance to Żupny chateau. It was the seat of the administration of the Krakow Baths - the salt mines and the mining office. Later, King Kazimier the Great lived here. Nowadays, the Museum of Krakow Cave, where the exhibition is dedicated to the history of Wieliczka, presents bronze artifacts and collections has the largest collection of salt shakers in the world. The history of the chateau dates back to the 13th century. After the city's fires in 1473 and 1475, the castle was rebuilt in the style of late Gothic style. Other buildings in the 16th century featured a Renaissance decoration. During World War II, the castle was destroyed, and since 1976 its reconstruction has taken the form of a medieval late Gothic fortress.St Klement's church (Wieliczka)

Saint Clement is considered to be one of the patrons of miners, so a church dedicated to this saint in a city with rich mining history can not be missed. Only a few steps away from the castle is the parish church of St. Klement. The construction that stood at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries did not save anything. Today's church dates back to the 17th - 19th centuries. The Baroque chapel of Morsztynov from 1693 with stucco decoration and a free standing bell tower dedicated to John III at the end of the 17th century is worth seeing. Sobieski. The area of the church is completed with a classicist building of the parish.

 Regis mine structures (Wieliczka)

Colorful urban environments complete tow towers and mining buildings. These original woods were replaced by masonry in the 19th century. They were preserved over the shafts of Regis, Danilowicz, Górsko and above the shaft of St. Kinga. Again, just a few steps away, and perhaps the most beautiful building of salt mines in Wieliczka, the Regis mine building with its typical tower.

Rynek Górny (Wieliczka) square

From here, we pass a few meters along Władysława Sikorskiego Street to the main square of Rynek Gorny. Most of the houses lined with this square square with a rectangular street network that originates from the 19th century. The most prominent building is the Przychocki Palace from the end of the 18th century, on the southern side of the square, where the Town Hall is currently situated.

a painting on Rynek Górny (Wieliczka) in detail

Rather than buildings, but visitors take the artistic layout of the square area. In the middle of the square there is painted a painting giving a three-dimensional impression, which is connected to the history of the city and its salt mines. Such an optical illusion, caused by an anamorphic art, has opened up the surface of the earth in the middle of the city, defiling what is hidden in the depths and what is still interesting for tourists. Painting accompanied by statues of miners entering the underground also attracts us to look underground. A few minutes later we are standing before entering the salt underground.


GPS: 49°59'03.3"N 20°03'34.1"E

Text and photos: Anna Nociarová

Edited by: Infoglobe

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