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Poland, Weliczka Salt Mine I – History and the Present

Published: 20.2.2019
The world's unique sight in the south of Poland attracts more than a million tourists to local countryside. The salt world, which has been created for centuries by the mining of salt, has not left us indifferent either. Therefore, let us expose the history and the presence of this extraordinary place in the following lines.

The salt mine in Wieliczka has long been among the most well-known and most visited places in Poland. In 1978 it was registered as one of the first objects on the UNESCO list of cultural and natural heritage. Today you will meet visitors from all over the world, whose steps are heading to the tours of tours underground, where they admire the result of the yearly salt mining.

salt mines compound (Wieliczka)

The salt mine is one of the oldest in the world and the mining operations began there in the 13th century and lasted until 1996. At present, as a tourist attraction, it forms a complex of underground shafts on nine floors, at a depth of 64 to 327 meters. With about 3000 chambers and 300 km of corridors, one would certainly have lost himself, so it is only possible with a guide and only for certain parts of the underground chambers. These are illuminated and adapted for a smooth tour of the tour by visitors. Particular parts of the survey illustrate the development and method of salt mining in different periods of history.a model depicting Neolithe culture (Wieliczka)

The history of this site is long. Already during the Miocene era (13.5 million years ago), crystallisation of salts dissolved in sea water began. Its subsequent burning resulted in the formation of salts and other rocks. Even before the stone salt deposit was discovered, around 3500 BC, the salt was obtained by boiling the salt from the salt springs found on the surface. Only after the depletion of surface resources began to find it deeper underground. The deeper fountains were struck until they hit blocks of rock salt. With underground salt mining began in the Middle Ages.

moderná ťažobná technika (Wieliczka)

You will surely know the famous proverb from the famous fairy-tale Salt Over Gold (Sul nad zlato). Salt was very important in the history of humanity. At some point, salt was considered white gold and even used as a payment. What they were aware of in Poland, and they appreciated this area very much. In the 14th century, revenues from the Krakow Salt Mines constituted a third of the wealth of the state. Until 1772, the mines were part of Krakow Salt Mines - the Krakowska County, and belonged first to the princes and later to the king. Subsequently, until 1918, under the name of Salina, they were subject to the administration of the Austrian Government. After gaining Polish independence, they became state property. During the Second World War, the Nemcami mine was used as a factory, and in 1996 the mining mining was over. In 2003, they rebuilt the old solivar, which acquires salt from underground saline waters.

a tour guide in a salt mine (Wieliczka)

As far as tourism is concerned, it has also begun to develop very soon. From the 15th century, the tourist center with tours and the 18th and 19th centuries brought its development and increased public interest. Not only ordinary visitors, but also statemen, artists and scientists came here. In the meantime, the mine served as a work area for miners and a tourist attraction. Today, this tourist attraction offers several sculptures, galleries and chapels that are part of miners and artists. When you choose to sit underground, you have to realize that what you see is not as in the cave the creation of nature, but the work of man. Without the hard and hard work of miners, we should not be admired today except for empty spaces, because the most beautiful creations were created by human action.

Danilowicz's mine, the entrance into a salt mine (Wieliczka)

The route begins in the Danilowicz shaft, excavated between 1635 and 1640. It was named after the administrator of Mikolaj Danilowicz, but it was renamed to the Rudolf shaft during the Austrian rule, to honor the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Initially, it served exclusively for the transport of salt to the surface, but since the 19th century it has also been a traffic shaft for miners and ever-arriving tourists. There once was a wooden structure with horses powered by a traction device, which replaced the steam engine in 1874. We are now entering a masonry building with an electric pulling machine.

a tour in a salt mine (Wieliczka)

The salt mine is accessible only with a guide and you can enjoy the tour in many world languages. You can also order via the online form. If you are individual tourists and decide for Polish interpretation, you can buy tickets on the spot. Tickets with interpretation in Polish are also a bit cheaper and the tour takes place every time 35 people come together. Thanks to its stable climate and temperature of 14 °C you can visit the salt mines at any time of year, which is definitely an advantage. The bath is closed only during some holidays. If you want to avoid a long time and a lot of tourists, the ideal time for your visit is just autumn and winter.

If you choose Wieliczka, you should definitely set out on a journey into the depths of the salt-formed terrain. We decided to explore the most accessible chambers connected by salt corridors and spend at least the next two hours, which takes a tour of the countryside from salt. Coming up there, you can descend with us and discover some of the unique ones that are hidden in it.

GPS: 49°59'01.6"N 20°03'16.1"E

Text and photos: Anna Nociarová

Edited by: Infoglobe



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