Underground Salt Cathedral of Wieliczka - 1000 Feet Down

One of the must-see excursions while in Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a one-of-a-kind and unique experience. Apart from being an actual, functional salt mine, there exists an underground Cathedral, made entirely of salt! 

Wieliczka Salt Mine Stairs

* A preview of things to come, a dramatic shot of the loooooooooooong way down.

Gertrudy Street
* Walking along Gertrudy Street on the way to our tour bus stop, we take note of how charming Krakow is. Full of 19th-20th Century Jerusalem-styled buildings, Krakow is an architectural wonder all to itself.

Gertrudy Street

* And this is largely because, unlike most of Europe, Krakow was thankfully spared much of the chaos caused by World War II.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

* The salt mine, located southeast of Krakow, has been operational for over 900 years. 

Wieliczka Salt Mine Entrance

* The almost empty entrance to the visitor center. We were lucky as there usually is a long queue on most days.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Elevator

* Surprisingly the journey down was leisurely and comfortable. I was expecting us to rough it out a bit, much like we did in the Paris Catacombs.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Elevator

* Taking the miner's elevator a quarter of the way down. Hoping it's as sturdy as the guide says it is.

Wieliczka Salt Mine

* An example of the intricate series of pulleys and levers used by the ancient miners. 

Wieliczka Salt Mine Weird Sign

* For those of you wondering if there are toilets down there, yes there are, spaced evenly throughout the journey down. I like how a fancy, shrouded gent is pointing in the direction of the walking chap, while the running chap has it going the other way.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Stairs

* Going all the way down in the darkness, with mood lights to add to the ambiance. There is a steady temperature of 14-16 degrees Celsius the entire mine.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Virgin Mary

* All in all there are 20 chambers to visit. Most tours last 3-4 hours and take you around labyrinth passages, underground lakes, and giant caverns.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Welcome

* Part of the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, the salt mine has been visited by over 36 million tourists throughout the Centuries including such famous ones as Nicolaus Copernicus, Frederic Chopin, Pope John Paul II, and former President Bill Clinton.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Nebuchadnezzar

* This sculpture of a Nebuchadnezzar-looking gent is masterfully made entirely of salt! Apart from the tours, the Salt Mine also plays host to various concerts, private functions, and even weddings all-year round.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Ladders

* Several of the chambers showcase the precarious working conditions that the miners have bravely traversed over the centuries. The mines produced salt continuously for over 900 years until finally being retired by the Polish Government in 2007.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Statues

* Popular in the Slavic countries is the legend of Saint-Princess Kinga, a Hungarian noblewoman who was set to marry the Prince of Krakow. Throwing her engagement ring down the Salt Mine, she asked the miners to dig a deep pit until they chanced upon a rock containing a lump of salt. When they split it in two, the miners found the engagement ring inside and thus came to honor Kinga as the patron saint of all salt miners in Poland.  

Wieliczka Salt Mine Stairs

* Upward shot of one of the series of stairs we took going down.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Dwarves

* Now what would a mine be without dwarves looking for minerals!

Wieliczka Salt Mine Working Conditions

* Back in the day, salt was extremely valuable (the medieval equivalent of today's oil) due to its many practical uses and applications. Because of this, Wieliczka was one of medieval Europe's biggest and most profitable industrial centers.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Eerie

* A scene that looks like it could have been shot out of a horror movie! The murkiness of the water is extra creepy.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Chapel

* Finally we arrive to the highlight of the tour, the Underground Cathedral of St. Kinga, where (and take note) EVERYTHING is made of salt.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Salt Soldiers

* Roman soldiers ascending as we descend the stairs to the Cathedral.

Wieliczka Salt Mine - Massacre of the Innocents

* A scene depicting the barbaric Massacre of the Innocents, as ordered by King Herod..

Wieliczka Salt Mine Flight to Egypt

* ..and the Flight to Egypt by the Holy Family after.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Jesus Before the Elders

* The most moving and lifelike piece in the entire Cathedral, in my opinion, is this one of The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Altar

* The amazing altar of the Cathedral, where even the chairs, pillars, and crosses are made of NaCl.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Selfie

* Couple selfie! Wishing we had brought angus steak and pepper for the perfect dry rub recipe.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Crucifixion

* The Crucifixion with an eerie skull at the bottom probably depicting the skull of Adam, the first man. Legend has it that Adam was buried under the Rock of Calvary, where Christ was crucified. See Danenation: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Wieliczka Salt Mine Last Supper

* Of course you can't have a Cathedral made of salt, without the Last Supper made of salt!

Wieliczka Salt Mine John Paul II

* The newest addition to the chamber is this salty statue of Poland's favorite son, Karol Wojtyla, more fondly remembered as Pope John Paul II.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Pond

* One of the subterranean lakes in the whole complex. I wonder if it's safe to take a dip? Or are there sea monsters lurking beneath the surface?

Wieliczka Salt Mine Krakow Dragon

* While we didn't encounter any monsters, specters, or even bats, we did find the Dragon of Krakow, the city's official symbol, hiding behind some log pillars.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Stairs

* Nearing the end of our journey, we climb up this cavern that reminds one of Avatar and Fern Gully.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Elevator
* Taking an elevator ride that can only fit 36 pax and up in 30 seconds! The end of an awesome and highly-recommended tour to one of mankind's most unique creations.

* Check out the video highlights of this amazing place!


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