Wieliczka Salt Mine is located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland. It is easily accessible from Krakow and it is a good option for the day in case of bad weather. Wieliczka Salt Mine is said to be the oldest operating business in Poland. It was opened in the 13th century and since then it has been continuously exploited.
According to the legend, finding the salt nearby Krakow is associated with a Hungarian princess, Blessed Kinga. She was a daughter of king Bela IV of Hungary who married Polish king Boleslaw the Modest. She wanted to bring a gift for her fiancé and the salt was especially valuable as it was scarce in Poland. The story tells she cast her engagement ring into the Maramures salt mine in Hungary. It traveled miraculously together with salt deposits to Wieliczka where it was rediscovered.
The mine reaches a depth of 327 meters and it is ca. 300 kilometers long. The whole complex has 9 levels and about 3000 chambers. Tourist route is limited to 3,5 kilometers and it leads through galleries and chambers on three levels from 64 to 135 meters under the ground. There are a few chapels where the miners used to pray for safety but the most impressive is the Blessed Kinga’s chapel where everything is carved in salt. Notice that the rock salt is naturally dark grey not white or crystalline as it is sometimes expected by tourists. There are a lot of works of art made of salt, underground lake and world’s biggest museum of mining. Due to its specific microclimate the Underground Rehabilitation and Treatment Center was established on depth of 210 meters. Its offer is directed to people suffering from asthma and allergies. The temperature in the mine is a constant 14°C all year round.
This unique place is a world-class attraction visited by 1,2 million people every year. It was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1978.