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Poland, Wieliczka – a story above the earth

When Wieliczka sounds, probably each of us will come to mind the famous salt mine in southern Poland. This eponymous town offers tourists not only beauty in its dungeon, but it is also worth exploring what is offered above the ground. Before looking into the ancient depths, we will walk among the sights in its streets that recall the rich history of this mining city.

If you, like us, go to Krakow, be sure to visit Wieliczka, which is located about 10 kilometers from the city. Despite the fact that many buses or trains travel from Krakow to Wieliczka every day, we set off by car. There were no problems with parking in the morning, because at every step there is a paid parking lot. We parked right next to the mine. Even before getting to know the solo beauty in the dungeon, we headed to the sights in the vicinity of the mines and the historical center.

Alley of John Paul II (Wieliczka)

Then the city of Wieliczka received city rights in 1290 from King Przemysl II, and during the Middle Ages it was called Magnum Sal (in Latin, “Big Salt”). The centennial history of the city is mainly associated with salt mines and salt production, which glorified this area. Even the sights of the city remind of this page of its rich history. The fact that we ended up in a mining town is also evidenced by its coat of arms formed by a gold mining hammer and a pickaxe on a blue background. During the reign of King Casimir the Great, a chess urban division of the city arose, as well as the fortress walls, which formed 29 bastions, but only one and two gates remained – the Krakow and Klosowski.

The mountain past can give the impression of a drilled, uncomfortable land, but Wieliczka is a city where you can relax in a park or other green corner. And it is from the large St. Kinga Park near the salt mine (Danilovich mine) that we continue along the picturesque alley of John Paul II. This pedestrian zone was created in 1998 and will lead you to the city center.

Sztygarówki – Szkoła Górnicza a Múzeum Salinarne (Wieliczka)

At the edge of the alley, attention will be drawn to the neo-Gothic red brick building Sztygarówki – Szkoła Górnicza and the Salinarne Museum. The building was designed by architect Tadeusz Dolenga-Mostowski and built in 1898 in honor of Emperor Franz Joseph I, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his reign. At first the building was a school of miners and museums, but at present the district government is located here.

Zamek Żupny (Wieliczka)

A little further is the entrance to the local castle Жupny Castle. It housed the administration of the royal zhup – salin and mining administration. Later, King Casimir the Great often stayed here. Today it houses the Museum of Krakow zhups, an exhibition which is dedicated to the history of Wieliczka, presents exhibits of the Bronze Age, and also has the largest collection of salt shakers in the world. The history of the castle dates back to the 13th century. After the fires of the city in 1473-1475. The castle was rebuilt in the late Gothic style. The following additions in the XVI century were carried out in the spirit of Renaissance decoration. During the Second World War, the castle was destroyed, and since 1976 it was reconstructed into a medieval fortress of the late Gothic period.

kostol sv. Klementa (Wieliczka)

Saint Clement is considered one of the patrons of miners, so a church dedicated to this particular saint in a city with a rich mining history cannot be absent. Just a few steps from the castle is the parish church of St. Clement. From the building, which stood here at the turn of the XIII-XIV centuries, nothing has been preserved. Today’s church belongs to the XVII-XIX centuries. Attention deserves the Baroque chapel Morshtynv 1693 with stucco decorations and a free-standing bell tower, donated at the end of the XVII century by King John III Sobieski. A parish building in the classical style is located on the territory of the church.

budova bane Regis (Wieliczka)

The flavor of the urban environment is completed by exhaust towers and mining buildings. The original wooden ones were replaced by brick ones in the 19th century. They survived over the Regis, Danilovich, Gorski mines and over the St. Kingi mine. Again, it’s enough for us to go a few steps, and we will probably be charmed by the most beautiful salt mine building in Wieliczka, the Regis mine building with a typical exhaust tower.

námestie Rynek Górny (Wieliczka)

From here we will walk a few meters along the street of Władysław Sikorski to the main square Rynek Górny. Most of the houses surrounding this square square with a rectangular network of streets that overlook it date back to the 19th century. The most expressive building is the Pszhyotsky Palace at the end of the 18th century, on the south side of the square, where the town hall is currently located.

detail maľby na námestí Rynek Górny (Wieliczka)

The attention of visitors will be attracted by the decoration of the square. In the middle of the square, a three-dimensional-looking picture is drawn, connected with the history of the city and its salt mines.

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