The Wieliczka Salt Mines are one of the most famous tourist attractions in Kraków. Since they were first visited in the 15th century, this place has not ceased to amaze tourists from all corners of the world. Would you like to be one of them?
1. Danilowicza Well
The tourist route to the Wieliczka Salt Mines starts at the Danilowicza Well after descending 64 meters down a steep wooden staircase that seems to have no end.
Upon arrival at the starting point, the tour guide will begin to tell you the origins and history of this peculiar mine still active while you go deep into the bowels of the Earth up to 135 meters deep through labyrinthine galleries that will lead you to spectacular chambers excavated in salt where you will see incredible sculptures and subway lakes.
2. Copernicus Chamber
One of the first chambers you will see during your visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines is the one dedicated to the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who was one of the first tourists to visit this place back in the 15th century.
In it we can see a salt sculpture dedicated to the famous scientist, author of the heliocentric theory, with which the miners honored him on the occasion of his 500th birthday.
3. San Antonio Chapel
St. Anthony' s Chapel is one of the first chapels to be built and can be seen on the tourist route to the Wieliczka Salt Mines as it is located very close to the entrance.
It seems that the miners built subway chapels to celebrate morning masses to ask God for protection from the many dangers of their work.
Did you know that it is considered the oldest subway religious temple in the world? It dates back to the 17th century and its style is baroque. However, some of the original elements and sculptures of the nave have faded or lost their clarity due to the natural process of salt dissolution known as leaching that affects this chamber. In addition, the entire Salt Mine complex is considered a UNESCO protected heritage site.
4. The most outstanding chambers
Santa Barbara Chamber
In Poland there is much respect for the mining profession and St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners, so inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines could not miss a chamber dedicated to the saint.
This is a very interesting camera to know how the workings of the mine were. Here you can see the evolution of the salt transport method inside the mine.
The Burning Chamber is another room where we can also see how the work in the mine used to be and the dangers it entailed. In this place there are several figures of miners who, using long poles, tried to explode the methane that accumulated on the roof of the excavations.
In the Janowice Chamber, several salt sculptures depict a passage from the legend of Princess Kinga (who later became the queen and saint of Poland) that alludes to the finding of her engagement ring in the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
This is a very important figure in the history of the country to whom the Chapel of St. Kinga was also dedicated, the most impressive of the entire tour.
Kazimierz or Casimir the Great Chamber
This chamber is dedicated to King Casimir the Great, one of the most important in Poland who legislated on the administration of Wieliczka Salt Mines and improving the working conditions of miners.
In addition to a large bust in honor of the monarch, in this room you can see several machines that were used to transport salt as well as a horse-drawn waterwheel.
Pieskowa Skała Chamber
This is one of the chambers in the Wieliczka Salt Mines whose size will impress you the most during your visit. It is a huge 17th century room that connects the first and second levels through a long staircase.
5. Cunegunda Well
This is one of the coolest places you will see during the Wieliczka Salt Mines tour. Here you will find small figures of dwarfs illuminated with colored lights that represent the different tasks of the miners in the mines (the crusher, the loader, the carter and the carpenter) and are somewhat reminiscent of the cute characters from the fairy tale "Snow White".
In addition, in the Cunegunda Pit is where the phenomenon of salt crystallization is best observed inside the mine, so there are a lot of curious rock formations such as stalagmites or stalactites surrounding the wishing lake. You will be amazed!
6. Chapel of Santa Kinga
Having the opportunity to see with your own eyes the spectacular Chapel of St. Kinga is reason enough to descend more than 100 meters into the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
If the other chambers have surprised you, this one will exceed all your expectations. Its dimensions are astonishing and more than a chapel, this place reminds you of a cathedral.
It is a very special place whose construction took almost 70 years, as the work was very laborious and was carried out by only three workers (the Markowski brothers and Antoni Wyrodek) who are buried here. Impressive, isn't it?
The Chapel of St. Kinga is very striking for its beautiful decoration made of salt and all the effort that was put into even the smallest detail. From the huge chandeliers and biblical reliefs that serve as altarpieces, to the statues dedicated to St. Kinga, the Virgin of Lourdes or Pope John Paul II, among others. Not for nothing is it considered the "Sistine Chapel of salt".
7. Other chambers
The Michalowice Chamber is not as artistic as the previous ones since it has no ornaments or sculptures but it is impressive for its wooden scaffolding that rises 35 meters high and where hangs a chandelier even larger than those of the Chapel of St. Kinga.
The most notable feature of this chamber is a salt sculpture of two miners. This site is often used as an exhibition and concert hall.
In the Weimar Chamber we are welcomed by a sculpture of Goethe, another of the illustrious tourists who had a great fondness for speleology and visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines in the company of the prince of Weimar, who gave his name to the room.
In this chamber you will notice a unique and enchanting atmosphere. Perhaps it is because of the beautiful illuminated salt lake that is located here or because of the background music played by the composer Frédéric Chopin, who frequented the mines to treat his asthma problem.
Be that as it may, it is a magical place that has not gone unnoticed by many couples in love who take advantage of the visit to get engaged in the Weimar Chamber.
Camera Stanisław Staszic
The Stanisław Staszic Chamber, at 124 meters deep, is the largest room of the entire tour with 36 meters high which is dedicated to the famous Polish geologist. The souvenir store is located here.
Today, this chamber has a restaurant and hosts large events such as weddings or business meetings, but in the past, some 20,000 tons of salt were extracted from this place.
Here the tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines ends and the guide will lead the group back to the base of the Danilowicz Pit where an elevator will take you up to the surface of the mines very quickly.
8. Other chapels
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Polish miners were very devout and within the Wieliczka Salt Mines they created about 40 places of worship where they could stop to pray during the day.
Chapel of San Juan
If you descend to the third level of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, at the deepest point of the route at 135 meters, you can visit St. John's Chapel. Don't forget to take your camera along the route to take the best pictures of the Salt Mines.