Wieliczka Salt Mine

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Here's a little something that I held out from featuring on my previous Poland post (nice alliteration, huh?) because I felt like it deserved a post all of it's very own. I am about to present to you probably one of the most beautiful things/places I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Situated about a forty-minute bus ride from Krakow lays Wieliczka Salt Mine, or Kopalnia soli Wieliczka. It has gained famed for being not only one of the oldest salt mines in operation (it was still producing salt up until a few years ago) but for being an original UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the first (#32) at that. The salt mines are also well known for playing host to an entire cathedral that has been hand carved out of rock salt by the miners. How about that? The mines reach a total depth of 327mtrs but visitors are only permitted to go down to 135mtrs. The entire mine system itself is so huge that on a visit, tourists cover less than 10% of the mine - and it's still predicted you wander ~3km throughout your tour! However, there are so many twisty-turny corridors and pathways that lead to - I'm not even kidding - such magical sights, that you could never in a million years get bored or stop being so damn awestruck at Wieliczka. Did I mention it is all made out of salt?! As the tour guide (Grzegorz, such a wonderful name to attempt to say) told us: even the crystals in the chandeliers are carved out of salt. Whoa!

This museum-come-wonderstuff really does provide an amazing day out if you're in Krakow with some spare time and is totally worth all the złotys you pay for it - which, let's be honest, is hardly anything at all.
Anyway, enough jibber-jabber. This is what it's all about:

Carved statues of historical Polish figures.

See that flooring? Yep? It's also salt. *mindblown*

The last picture shows the "story" (well more of a legend really and in real life, it had an audio to go with it) of how rock salt was first brought to Poland in the 13th century, and in my loveable Cockney manner I'm going to attempt to recreate this story...

So, this Hungarian princess called Kinga was due to be wed to the King of Krakow and she asked her Pops for a salt mine as a gift to her beloved, because there was, like, no salt in Poland. Before leaving for Poland, she threw a ring into the salt mine and when she arrived at her new home, she asked people to dig a deep pit and so they dug, and they dug, and they dug... until lo-and-behold, there was a batch of salt and wrapped around a salt crystal was none other than *gasp* ... the princess' ring. Ain't that a beaut! Now she's the guardian angel of miners in Poland and all that. [/cockney]

Oh, before I completely endgame Cockney, I couldn't leave without sharing this:

Oh East London (oh East London)
Is wonderful (is wonderful)
Oh East London is wonderful...

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