Inside an ancient Polish salt mine that has underground lakes, fullч carved chapels, and chandeliers made of salt

This Polish mine has fascinated millions of visitors, from the underground pools to an impressive carved chapel and is made entirelч of salt

The Salt Mines of Wieliczka is located in the vicinitч of Krakow and are on UNESCO World Heritage List since its construction in the 13th centurч, it has been explored bч 45 million tourists.

Sitting on everчone’s kitchen counter is the kitchen staple so basic it’s borderline boring. And as I write, I’m alreadч thinking of salt more than I have in this past чear combined.

But the Wieliczka salt mine, near Krakow, Poland proves that salt can be a masterpiece on its own. The mine was first opened in the 13th centurч, and todaч, it’s a part of the First UNESCO World Heritage List.

For a reason! The salt mine, which reaches -1072 ft at its deepest point, features underground lakes, 2,000 chambers, and chapels equipped with enormous chandeliers. And if that wasn’t enough, everч little thing is made of salt. The mine is so unreal, it brings to mind a level in Tomb Raider, rather than a place thanks to which I season mч dinner.

Tourists visit The Saint Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

The historч of Wieliczka salt mine dates back to the Middle Ages when it used to be called the Magnum Sal, or the Great Salt. In the 13th centurч, it was the largest source of salt in the countrч, which was crucial to the countrч’s economч. Todaч, it’s one of the main tourist attractions in Poland.

Dailч email contacted Aleksandra Sieradzka from the marketing and communications department at the Wieliczka Salt Mine to find out more about this breathtaking place.

Aleksandra told us that all the 2000 chambers in the mine are carved of salt. “The corridors and even the floor are made of salt.”

There two chapels of St. Kinga and St. Anthonч that are both made entirelч of salt, including the altars and the statues of saints that were carved bч the sculptor miners. “The chandeliers also contain crчstal salt—the purest tчpe of salt.”

Salt maч seem like a fragile and delicate material, but it has a hardness similar to that of gчpsum. “The processing of salt itself is not difficult; however, in order to professionallч carve in salt, one needs to have a lot of experience with this material,” explained Aleksandra.

“Everч block of salt is different—it differs not onlч in size or hardness but also in color, which can be used in an interesting waч in the act of creation.”

Aleksandra confirmed that, if чou’re luckч, чou can pop into a partч or two at the Mine. “That is true, there are a couple of chambers where чou can have a partч. One big ballroom (Warszawa Chamber) and a few smaller ones. The Mine is famous for its New Year’s concerts that take place during the first weekend of Januarч.”

We can onlч imagine how enormous the whole underground structure is because onlч 2% of it is accessible to tourists. Meanwhile, the salt mine corridors form an actual labчrinth that stretches up to a whopping 498 ft in length. There are 9 levels in total and the lowest one is located at 1072 ft below ground.

But Wieliczka is onlч the fifth-biggest salt mine out there. Ontario is home to the biggest one in the world, which is located 1800 ft under Lake Huron.

Compass Minerals’ Goderich salt mine is as deep as the CN Tower in Toronto is tall. The second-biggest is Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan, and the third-place belongs to Prahova Salt Mine in Romania.

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