The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine is one of the most valuable monuments of material and spiritual culture in Poland. Each year it is visited by more than one million tourists from all over the world. It is also a world class monument, featuring among twelve objects on the UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Today, the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine combines many centuries of tradition and modernity, the history of several hundred years and an underground metropolis with extensive infrastructure. The mine is a product of work of tens of generations of miners, a monument to the history of Poland and to the Polish nation – a brand, present in Polish consciousness for centuries.
Since 1945 till today the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine has been visited by already 38 360 977 tourists. Only in 2014 its unique interiors were admired by guests who arrived from 188 countries around the world. More guests are probably on their way.
Did you know that?
The deepest lake along the Tourist Route measures 9 meters in depth at its lowest point. In 2004 it occurred that this saline lake located 104 meters underground is a perfect spot for windsurfing. The multiple medalist, World Champion and European Champion, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, sailed across the lake receiving tremendous support from his cheering fans and an enormous air-blower.
The largest statue along the Tourist Route weighs 15 tonnes, i.e. the combined weight of 3 elephants standing on top of each other.
The Chapel of St. Kinga possesses perfect acoustic properties. Nigel Kennedy and the Blackmore’s Night performed in the chapel as well as many others.
The one and only underground church in Europe is situated in the mine where visitors can see the underground statue of John Paul II. This unique rock salt statue is located 101 meters below ground level in the Chapel of St. Kinga.
The largest excavation accessible to tourists is the Stanislaw Staszic Chamber. The chamber measures 36 m in height and has become a part of the history of extreme sports, aviation and it is also mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records. A very exciting event took place here – the first Underground Balloon Flight. Bungee jumping was also practiced.
The income generated by the Krakow Saltworks and from selling salt was a huge capital injection for the country during the times of King Casimir the Great. It covered 1/3 of the state treasury income.
The Wieliczka deposit lies within a surface area of 7 square kilometres. At the beginning of the 20th century the city of Krakow was located on the same surface area.
The mine contains 9 levels and reaches 327 metres underground. The Eiffel Tower would just about fit into the mine with 3 metres still to spare.
Almost 7.5 million cu. m. of deposit was excavated from within the mine during its history. This volume of soil could build as many as 3 pyramids similar in size to the Pyramid of Cheops!