Other trips


Other trips can be accessed by clicking the following links:

2013
Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea

2014
Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Copenhagen

2015
Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, India and England

2016
Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Ethiopia, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe, UAE and Denmark

Monday, August 25, 2014

Salt and More Salt: Day Trip to a Salt Mine on 8/19

Located about 14 km SE of Krakow’s city center, the town of Wieliczka is famous for its ultra deep Kopalni Sola or Salt Mine which has been in continuous operation for over 700 years. Everything in its depth has been carved by hand from salt blocks; the mine was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1978.

We could have taken a tour from the hostel but chose to take a city bus for only $5 for both of us to and from the town which was hugely cheaper and more adventurous way to travel for us.  We’d read about possibly huge long waits for the tours so bought tickets the day ahead at their office in Krakow.

The mine is renowned for its preservative qualities as well as its health giving properties; an underground sanitarium has been established at a depth of 135m where chronic allergic diseases are treated by overnight stays. Not sure I'd want to pay to stay underground for several days; to me; seems more of a punishment for me! 

Speaking of money, salt was such a valuable commodity in the medieval ages that over 30% of Poland's income was derived from salt mined here in Wieliczka.

The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, about 30 km distributed over 9 levels, the deepest being 327 m underground. A section of the mine, some 22 chambers connected by galleries, is open to the  public as a museum. On the mandatory 2 hour tour, our guide led us through the upper 3 levels of the mine from 64 m to 135 m below ground, after walking down 53 flights of stairs. Each flight luckily only had 7 steps but, Mindy and Judy, I thought of you both with your bad knees thinking the trek down would have been impossible for you.


On the mandatory 2 hour tour, our guide led us through the upper 3 levels of the mine from 64 m to 135 m below ground, after walking down 53 flights of stairs. Each flight luckily only had 7 steps but, Mindy and Judy, I thought of you both with your bad knees thinking the trek down would have been impossible for you.





Through an eerie world of pits and chambers all carved by solid salt we traveled. Some have been made into chapels with altarpieces and figures, others are adorned with statues and monuments.
Deeper and deeper we went!



From the Weimar Chamber; carved in 19th C.  


The showpiece is the ornamental; Chapel of St. Kinga which is actually a fair sized church measuring 54 by18m and 12 m high. Every single element here, from chandeliers to altarpieces, is of salt.  It took over 30 years for one man and his brother to complete this underground temple and about 20,000 tons of rock salt had to be removed.  Occasional masses, concerts, even weddings are held here.

   Photos from the Chapel of St. Kinga below. It was mind boggling to me that everything in the chamber was carved entirely from salt ,including even the chandeliers.







Pope John Paul II's statue was carved
 in 1999 for his expected arrival at the

Wieliczka Salt Mine to celebrate Mass 
on his last pilgrimage to his homeland. 
Unfortunately he was too sick and
 didn't visit the mine.





















Another highlight was the salt lake in the Baracz Chamber, whose water contains 320 g of salt per liter.



A shoutout to Colorado!!


Steven wasn’t as enamored as I was seeing the mine; he felt that the sculptures, done mostly by miners, were moderately interesting but no more than that. I found intriguing the sheer magnitude and scope of what was accomplished using a product so inherently fragile to sculpt.