Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine is about 20 minutes outside of Kraków. It is one of the world's oldest operating salt mines. The story goes that this is the world's 14th-oldest company still in operation. Table salt has been produced here continuously from the 13th century. In 1996, commercial mining was discontinued due to flooding in the mines and because salt prices were too low to make it profitable.

In 1978 the mine was placed on the original list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Over one million people visit the mine each year.

The mine reaches a depth of 327 meters (~1,073 feet) and it is more than 300 km (+186 miles). The guided tour covers 3.5 km which is less than 1% of the mine's passages.

The statues in the mines were carved out of rock salt by the miners. The detail in the statues is impressive. Even the chandelier crystals are made of salt.

Inside the mine are a couple of chapels and a lake. There is even a large cathedral inside the mine that was completed by three men. It is incredible!

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