Visiting a Salt Mine in Kraków Poland

6 July 2015 Wieliczka Salt Mine, Daniłowicza 10, 32-020 Wieliczka, Poland

Visiting a Salt Mine in Poland

Most people make it a point to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp when they arrive to Kraków, and so it makes sense that it's most famous day trip from Kraków, Poland. However, I've been to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp when I was visiting Berlin last winter, and didn't want to have the same gripping experience (although I must say, if you've never been to any concentration camp tours, you should go for the Auschwitz tour when you're in Krakow! The reviews are GREAT!), so I decided against visiting the Auschwitz camp. Still, I was intending on going for another day trip as I had quite a fair bit of time in Kraków. The other great day-trip option recommended by the hostel I was staying at was the Salt Mine Tour, so I decided to give it a shot.

The Wielickzka Salt Mine Tour costed approximately 21-ish euros, inclusive of transport. Although one could go without a guide, I was really glad I went with one.

image of the wooden stairs down Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Chamber sign in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

It was a blazing hot day in Kraków that day, as expected from the past few days I was there, but since the salt mine was located about several hundred metres below ground, it was a cool 15 degrees!

The tour started off with a long climb down a probably a hundred steps (maybe more - it was just never ending) and then straight into a few dark alleys. Since it was so dark down in the mines, it was quite annoying to take have to adjust the lighting and camera settings for pictures. BUT what you see is so unlike anything ever!

Walking through the barracks of Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Structures, displays and lake in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

Our guide took us through the mine, and explained how people used to mine salt, the use of animals like horses. We found out that some horses were down in the mine for 20 years! Can you believe it?! Because it's difficult to transport them down and up, stables were built IN the mine for the horses to live 300 over metres below ground.

There were so many different structures and figurines made out of salts. Although they look opaque and stone-like, when the guide shined a light on the structures, you could tell that it is made of salt because it was clear.

I've never been to a salt mine, or any kind of mine, so I was really impressed. The floors in the mine was made out of salt, the walls were made of salt, the ceilings were also made of salt, almost everything was made of sodium chloride.
Literally. Salt. The salt you can eat.

Salt structure in the  Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Salt Details in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Ceiling made of salt in  Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

Our guide also told us how the different types of salts were formed. There were the ones they call cauliflower which is a less valuable variety - something like common salt i'd assume, and other salt crystals which are stronger, and colourless, those are more precious ones.

Speaking of the salt mine being made out of salt you can eat, our guide told us, "You can taste the walls if you want, to see if its made of salt." Everyone just laughed thinking it was a joke, but then someone asked if it was dirty, and turns out, the salt surface is one of the cleanest surfaces because it has very few bacterial matter on it.

Anyway, all that explanation is to say that I TASTED THE WALL. I know some people would find it gross, but I'm pretty daredevil when it comes to tasting and trying weird stuff, so.... Yeah. The walls were salty. Very Salty.

Story of the salt mines in salt carving in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Colorful lights on the salt structures in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland
Salt structures in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

In some parts of the mines, there were beautiful structures of dragons, dwarfs and other characters that children can relate to, those were apparently part of a kids education programme. However, most of the original sculptures were carved out and designed by the miners who worked in the mines during their free time.

The most impressive part was the underground church.
The chandeliers were made of salt crystals, the sculptures, the whole room practically, was designed and decorated by a few miners DURING THEIR FREE TIME.
I cannot comprehend how insanely talented and amazing these miners were. They did it not out of an order, but just out of the willingness of their heart, and they created something so beautiful.

Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland cathedral and chandeliers underground
Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland cathedral chandeliers detail
Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland salt crystal chandelier
The last supper salt carving in Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

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!

Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland Mother Mary Salt Statue structure
Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland collage

Apart from having daily tours of the place, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is also used as a place for functions and weddings. I think it's so interesting how people choose to have their wedding ceremonies and parties in spaces like these. According to our guide it costs about 200 000 euros to hold wedding reception in the Salt Mines!

Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland Reception and function area
Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland Souvenirs and Jewellery
UNESCO World Heritage Site Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

To be honest, I've never heard about the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków, if not for my hostel, i'd probably never get to experience a place like this.

Initially, I considered just staying in the main city centre of Kraków and not venturing out. But the hostel staff and other people I met whilst staying there convinced me that it was a place worth visiting, and I absolutely agree.

Most people have never heard of the salt mines near Kraków, so they don't plan enough time to visit it whilst they're there. Remember to do so if you ever do visit  Kraków!
P.S. You usually get a cheaper deal if you book to visit both Auschwitz and the Salt Mines!


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