Poland, Wieliczka I salt mine – history and modernity
World rarity in southern Poland attracts more than a million tourists annually to look into the womb of the earth. The salt world, which has arisen here over the centuries due to the extraction of salt, did not leave us indifferent either. So let’s go open the history and present of this exceptional place in the following lines.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the most famous and most visited places among tourists in Poland. In 1978, the mine, as one of the first sites, was listed by UNESCO. Today, every day you will meet visitors from all over the world, their steps are directed to the routes of excursions passing underground, where they admire the results of a hundred-year-old salt production.
territory of the salt mine (Wieliczka)
The mine is one of the oldest in the world, and mining was carried out from the 13th century until 1996. Currently, the complex consists of underground mines on nine floors at a depth of 64 to 327 meters. With about 3,000 cameras and 300 km of corridors, you can easily get lost here, so descent is possible only with a guide and only to certain parts of the underground chambers. They are lit and adapted for excursions. Separate parts of the tour bring the development and method of salt extraction in different periods closer.
model of Neolithic culture (Wieliczka)
The history of this area is long. Already in the Miocene period (13.5 million years ago), crystallization of salts dissolved in sea water began here. As a result of its subsequent evaporation, precipitation of salts and other rocks arose. Even before the discovery of rock salt reserves, around 3500 BC salt was obtained by cooking brine from salt sources that were on the surface. Only after the depletion of surface resources did they begin to search deeper underground. The wells were digging until they found blocks of rock salt. Underground salt mining began in the Middle Ages.
modern mining equipment (Wieliczka)
You probably know the famous proverb or fairy tale “Salt is more expensive than gold.” And in the history of mankind, this also mattered. In a certain period, salt was considered white gold and was even used as a means of payment. In Poland, they knew this, and therefore they greatly appreciated this area. In the fourteenth century, profit from Krakow salt mines amounted to one third of the country’s wealth. Until 1772, the mines were part of the Краupy Krakowskie Краupy Krakowskie enterprise and belonged first to the princes, and later to the kings. Then, until 1918, under the name Salina, they were under the control of the Austrian government. After Poland gained independence, they became the property of the state. During World War II, the Germans used the mine as a factory, and in 1996, mining in the mine was completed. In 2003, the old salt factory was restored, which receives salt from underground salt water.
Tourism here began to develop relatively quickly too. Since the XV century there has been a tourist center with excursions, and the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries brought its development and increased public attention. Not only ordinary visitors came here, but also statesmen, artists and scientists. The mine is simultaneously a servant as a workplace for miners and a tourist attraction. Today there are several sculptures, a gallery and a chapel, which are the work of miners and artists. When you go to the rooms in the dungeon, you must understand that what you see is not like a cave created by nature, but the work of man. Without the hard and hard work of the miners, we would have nothing to admire today, because the most beautiful creations arose precisely by human labor.
Danilowiczova šachta, vstup do solného dolu (Wieliczka)
The tour begins in the Danilovich mine, excavated in 1635–1640. It was named after the former manager of the mine, Mikola Danilovic, but during the Austrian management it was renamed the Rudolph mine, in honor of the son of Emperor Franz Joseph I. At first, the mine served exclusively to transport salt to the surface, but since the 19th century it was a transport mine for mine officials and tourists. Once there was a wooden building with a hoisting mechanism driven by horses, which was replaced in 1874 by a steam engine. Today we are already entering a brick building with an electric hoist.
inspection of the salt mine (Wieliczka)
The salt mine is only accessible with a guide, and you can book a guided tour in several world languages. An order can also be made via the online form. If a comment in Polish is enough for you, then tickets can be bought on the spot. Tickets with comments in Polish are also a little cheaper, and the tour always takes place when 35 people gather. You can visit the salt mine at any time of the year, thanks to its stable climate and temperature of 14 ° C. The mine is closed only during certain holidays. If you want to avoid long lines, the ideal time is autumn and winter.