Wieliczka Salt Mine visit is an inspiring experience, a unique historical monument, an impressive engineering feat and a natural wonder. Almost certainly unlike anything you have seen before. The Wieliczka Salt Mine remains a classic reminder of the efforts exerted by Polish people in the past of their cultural and historical heritage, well worth a visit if you’re in Krakow.

Press Pass invitation

A month before the trip to Poland I managed to get an invitation through my Press Pass. I had the privilege of a private tour having along Margo my local friend, so it was us and our expert guide on our side. The presence of a guide is definitely one of those obligatory things in the salt mine.

The Classic Tourist tour

Together with our wonderful private tour guide Isabella, we surpass queues and groups of tourists, descent quite fast the first 378 wooden steps down to level 3 at 135 meters underground.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

We walked nearly 3 km –down staircases -800 steps along 20 chambers and winding corridors, into cavernous halls, past chapels, walked around natural saline lakes accompanied by a play of lights and music of Frederic Chopin. Wieliczka Salt Mine is not an ordinary mine, no warren of small dark tunnels and dangerous industrial pitfalls. This is a small city, an art gallery, a place of work and a house of worship… and it’s all carved out of salt.

Since it was so dark down in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, it was quite annoying to have to adjust the lighting and camera settings for pictures. But what you see is so unlike anything ever!

Some horses were down in the Wieliczka Salt Mine for 20 years! Can you imagine that? Because it’s difficult to transport them down and up, stables were built inside the mine for the horses to live 300 over meters below ground.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Isabela tells us how the different types of salts were formed at the Wieliczka Salt Mine. There were the ones they call cauliflower which is a less valuable variety – something like common salt I would assume, and other salt crystals which are stronger, and colourless -more precious ones.

The Chapel of Saint Kinga

In the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Chapel of Saint Kinga (465 sq. meters) was the most amazing. The largest and most recognized testimony to great artistry, an underground church carved into rock-carved salt and embellished with salty sculptures.

Even the chandeliers in the Wieliczka Salt Mine are made of salt. I cannot comprehend how insanely talented and amazing these miners were. They did not do it out of an order but just out of the willingness of their heart, and they created something so beautiful.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The most well-known decorative piece was the carving above of the last supper. Although it looks like its super 3 dimensional and thick, it was only about 12mm in thickness. I’d never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The illusion created by the miners is so clever!

Towards the end of our tour, there are function rooms, conference facilities, restaurants and bars that are available for hire. The city underground may not be a working mine anymore but still has a life.

An Awe-Inspiring Experience

The journey is something you will not forget long after having left the lift taking you back to the ground level. In our case, we returned to the surface via the tiny but original elevator the miners used and not the service elevator –this as a treat! It was nice to see daylight again although I’d almost forgotten how far I was underground. I suppose that was the whole point of the wonderland the miners built over all those generations. In my own journey, I was let to escape reality in the depth of earth for about 3 hours and was awe-inspiring. A journey I will never forget!

Wieliczka Salt Mine

Facts in Brief

  • Krakow’s salt came from the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located about 10 miles south-east of the city centre. Mining began there the 13th century and it is the only salt mine in the world preserved in such pristine condition and placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites. Not only do the old mines tell the story of eight hundred years of mining history, but the seven stunning caverns emptied of salt have more than twenty chapels, dining halls, a hotel, a Spa and Health Center.
  • The Wieliczka Salt Mine was used as a refuge in war, overtaken by invaders, witnessed catastrophic floods and became the graves of those lost in tragic cave-ins. Nowadays the mine’s atmosphere is closer an amusement park, with bungee jumping, windsurfing over salt lakes, tennis, and a marching band.

Life in the mine

  • With dangers ever present, the miners of the Wieliczka Salt Mine made it a point to attend daily Mass before their arduous work began. The first chapel was carved out of the salt 400 years ago. Since then twenty others have been added. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was built in 1876 as a thanksgiving offering to God, after years of catastrophic flooding were finally brought to an end. The crown jewel among the chapels, the Chapel of St. Kinga, features an altar, a statue of Pope St. John Paul II and grand chandeliers all made from salt. It took three men the course of 67 years to decorate, chiselling and sculpting artwork from the salt.
  • One doctor, noticing the health benefits of the saltwater, Dr Feliks Boczkowski, started the first health treatments by building saline baths deep in the mine in 1838. Later, in 1964, Professor Mieczyslaw Skulimowski recognized the unique underground atmosphere (pollen and allergy free) and established the first underground treatment centre of its kind, the Allergy Treatment Health Resort Kinga.

Handy Tips

The classic tourist tour is the most popular and offers a bit of everything.

Required time 4.5 hours of spare time –the best way of spending it on the day you decide to follow the trail.

Prepare yourself for a lot of walking. The tour takes up to 3 hours and the temperature inside is always the same. No matter the time of the year – it’s around 16 degrees.


Have we managed to travel you at all?

What was your experience like when visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine?


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