Wieliczka Salt Mine: An Underground Salt Cathedral

On November 25, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

If you plan on visiting Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a must-see for travelers. Salt has been extracted from that area for hundreds of years, dating back to the 12th century. I’ve been in a mine before, but never a salt mine. Our visit was a unique and educational experience that was well worth the money. We weren’t the only ones to take the 350-step descent into the mine. More than one million people visit the UNESCO World Heritage site every year from all over the world.

wieliczka-cathedral-st-kinga

St. Kinga’s Chapel, carved out of rock salt

AN UNDERGROUND WORLD OF SALT

The Wieliczka Salt Mine sits just outside Krakow in southern Poland. When salt was discovered in the area during the 12th century, Polish royalty became very involved in salt production and the mine grew to become a critical industry for the area. Workers dug shafts and expanded the mine to its current size: 327 meters deep and 287 kilometers long. Commercial mining of the site only ended in 1996.

When visiting the salt mine, there are different tour options. We chose the Tourist Route. It lasts approximately three hours and includes a guide. This is the most popular option for visitors costing 75 PLN (about $25) a person and 210 PLN (about $70) for a family of four. Within the salt mine, visitors get to see statues, chapels, and an entire cathedral carved out of rock salt by the miners. Here’s a peak inside the mine:

GETTING TO WIELICZKA

Visitors do need a permit (10 PLN) to take photos and shoot video inside the mine. Tours are also available in languages other than English. For travelers who do not have a vehicle, there is a bus that runs to the site from Krakow. There are also several tour companies who offer day-trip options to the salt mine, which includes a door-to-door shuttle, but the cost is much higher. We missed the big tourist groups by visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine in November, but the site is open all year.

Check out our Wieliczka Salt Mine gallery.

-C.K.

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