Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Traveling on a skateboard 2016 part 2 - Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow, Poland

One of the most interesting places I have been to is the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow, Poland. This 700 year old complex has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is the largest mining museum in the world, with an extensive collection of unique equipment that reflects the development of mining techniques from the Middle Ages to the present day. The underground tunnels seem to go on forever!! The highlight was definitely the beautiful chapel of the Blessed Kinga. Be prepared to do a lot of walking and bear in mind that the mine is a constant 15 degrees centigrade. 

My tour began by descending 400 wooden stairs to the first level which is 64 meters underground, passing through tunnels and chambers on 3 levels... you don't need to worry -- you won't have to climb them after your tour. There is an elevator that will take you all the way to where you started your tour. There are 9 levels on this tour to the Salt Mine and a lot more stairs to bring you all the way down to your final destination. According to our tour guide inside the Salt Mine, you will descend to a maximum depth of 135 meters deep ( roughly 800 steps down the shafts and walk at least 4 kilometres during the 3 hour mine tour. But the winding adventure is worth the trek. As I walked through each unique chamber with our guide, we were learning the history behind the centuries-old salt mine. Hundred of years of excavation has left 7 gorgeous chambers carved into the rock salt throughout the floors.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is often called " The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland ". This underground cathedral is the Chapel of Blessed Kinga which the miners started to build in 1896 and finished it only 70 years after. They created the largest of the mine's churches. The walls were filled with religious bas-reliefs, including a replica of Da Vinci's " Last Supper " carved into the rock salt. 

This underground salt cathedral is dedicated to Blessed Kinga, the patroness saint of Poland and salt miners. 

Amazingly, even the chandeliers in the cathedral are made of salt.

Here are some tips one should know before they go on this tour: 

+ - Dress warm! the temperature underground ranges between 14 - 16 degrees centigrade.
+ - All the visitors have to go down at least 800 steps - wear comfortable shoes.
+ - It takes at least 3 hours to tour the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Krakow.
+ - This tour is not recommended for travellers that have difficulty walking on uneven terrain. 

This was simply one of the best tours of my life. In a fun way I learned about the history of Poland and specifically Wieliczka while exploring the old mine. One of the most amazing places I've ever been. The salt mines must be experienced if you're in the area. Just a little drive from Krakow and you're there. As you walk down into the mines you will see several carvings and statues made by hand as well as the huge constructions made to uphold the mines and to mine the salt. This is amazing, but when you enter the cathedral you will be speechless. Wieliczka Salt Mine is a must see destination in Poland. 

P. S. !! You can even lick the walls !!

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