The Wieliczka Salt Mines in Poland have been used for several centuries to extract salt, but are now in the news for a different reason. Through their excavations and adventures, Polish miners have left behind something unique in these underground spaces, little known to the world until recently.
It has been over ten years since any salt has been extracted from the Wieliczka Mines, and yet, people still pay a visit. Though an ordinary-looking mine from the outside, just 200 meters down below, lies an astonishing spectacle to behold. The salt mine has actually been converted into a cathedral, art gallery and it also contains a lake.
What’s all the more beautiful and intriguing about this place is that it has been built over the years by miners themselves. During the course of a few centuries, generations of miners left behind pieces of art, religious and historical figures, and even built their own cathedral down under there, to be able to pray. The huge cathedral is perhaps the most astonishing of the wonders that lie below the ground. Remarkable religious carvings can be found, of scenes such as the Last Supper and Jesus appearing to the apostles after crucifixion.
Everything in these breathtaking mines is made from salt, including the chandeliers. The rock salt that was excavated was dissolved, mixed with impurities, giving it a glass-like appearance. This was used to create several beautiful chandeliers that now adorn the roof of the mines. The mines have received over one million visitors and the numbers are rising. Less than one percent of the mine is actually open to visitors, for safety reasons. Wieliczka is a small town located in the Krakow area, with a population of around 20,000. The town is connected by a bus service, and not too difficult to reach.
Many of the artefacts within the mines would have taken miners years, even decades to complete. This is one must-visit destination if you happen to be visiting Poland.