Wieliczka Salt Mines
Wieliczka Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
May 31st, 2009 – by: herman_munster
This visit was worth the 780 steps (all down) and 2 km of footwork underground. The carvings were impressive; the cage or lift coming up was a tight squeeze. As a Polish tourist attraction, Wieliczka was pretty expensive. It's 100 zloty to visit the mine with an English speaking tour guide and return bus ride to/from the city. The price seems outrageous when compared with the price of a museum ticket, but if you consider that it's a 2 hour guided tour that goes through 2 km of mines, it's a bit more reasonable - though still a lot of money.
The idea of a fun trip to a salt mine may sound a little dubious. And as you head out through the suburbs you may wonder just why you are leaving the glories of the city behind. However, it is not just the antiquity of these mines that makes them worth the trip, they are also home to one of the wonders of Poland. This is the chapel of the Blessed Kinga, which to all intents and purposes is a full blown church, the only difference being that it is 200 metres undergound, and carved entirely from salt, (including the chandeliers that hang from the ceiling). It is a quite astounding sight, and all the more so as it was carved not by an outsider, but by a group of gifted miners themselves.
Entering the mines involves a long descent by stairwell. The chapel of the Blessed Kinga is the undoubted show-stopper, yet it is only one of several attractions. There is a handful more smaller chapels, including the seventeenth century chapel of St. Anthony, and a huge underground salt lake. If Tolkien had seen this place he would probably have got down on his knees and kissed the salty ground. All tours are guided, which means that sometimes we cannot linger in the more captivating rooms for as long as you might like. However, if you have more than two nights in the Krakow, or bad weather strikes, the mines make a very worthwhile trip.
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