The Wieliczka salt mine, located in the city of Wieliczka, Nell’Metropolitan area by Krakow, in Poland, is in operation since XIII century, and is still used for the extraction of Salt. Is one of the oldest salt mines still operating at the world (the oldest ever is Bochnia, always in Poland, to 20 miles from Wieliczka).
The mine reaches a depth of 327 m, and presents galleries and tunnels for a total extension of more than 300 miles.
The salt mine in Wieliczka has 3,5 miles available for sightseeing (less than 1% of the total length of the galleries), They include statues of historical and mythical figures, all carved by miners directly into Salt. Even the crystals the candlesticks were forged in the salt. The mine also has rooms decorated, chapels and underground lakes, and shows the history of the mine. That of Wieliczka is commonly known as “underground salt Cathedral of Poland“, and is visited every year by about 800.000 people.
Over the centuries, many personalities have visited these mines, including Nicolaus Copernicus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Alexander von Humboldt, Dmitri Mendeleev, Bolesław Prus, Ignacy Paderewski, Robert Baden-powell, Jacob Bronowski (that shot some scenes of The Ascent of Man in the mine), Karol Wojtyła (future Pope John Paul II), the former President of the United States of America Bill Clinton, and other royalty.
The tour lasts two hours, and it's very fun and interesting. It comes down to three levels, Come on 63 the first meters up to 135 meters of the third. Actually there are nine levels and the last is more than 300 m.
You get to the first level after descended 380 steps and through various tunnels connecting the numerous salt. In every room, using original instruments and often very old, were reconstructed scenes of mining work. The most spectacular room is the famous chapel of St. Kunigunda, patroness of miners, lit by chandeliers, adorned with crystals of salt and enriched with bas-reliefs and statues also of salt. There is also a room where is a “Ghost”, and, yet, various underground lakes, of which one is more saturated with dead sea salt, you could walk; We have not verified… Is it really worth visiting this place, cross, following old binaries, many galleries and halls adorned with statues, Dummies-miners and ancient wooden tools once used for extracting, crushing of blocks and salt transport. Horses have worked in these mines.
Cross halls are really many, Some even very large and all, Of course, made of salt, from floor to ceiling, from wall decorations. Really fascinating.
The Guide took us all the way (also because, alone, It would have been impossible to find the exit) and left us alone in a large room at the end of the path, where they sell souvenirs and other gadgets, While in an adjacent room there is the restaurant. And there we dined, experiencing the thrill of 300 meters under ground (as for the food, well, obviously not much exciting: fish mousse, asparagus soup, Smoked Ham with chanterelles, roast potatoes…).
Can not miss on your personal life menu by gastrofanatici and Indiana Jones del gusto ;).