Wieliczka – The Mine With Walls You Can Lick
In Krakow, it is impossible to avoid the Wieliczka Salt Mine. EVERY company does tours to the place. I had a limited amount of time in Krakow, so thought why not!?
The mine is over 700 years old, 300 metres deep and 170 miles long and yes you can actually lick the walls! The tours of the mine only cover about 2 miles of the tunnels, so you only get to see a small section of the mine itself, but what you do see is well worth it.
The mine is very, very large. There are vast areas in the mine where staircases have been carved for quicker access to different areas. Take a look at these pictures for an idea of the scale of the place…..
The Chapel of St Kinga
Without question, the main attraction in the mines is the Chapel of St Kinga. Kinga was a Princess born in Hungary in 1224 and married the Prince of Krakow. There is a legend which states that Kinga threw her engagement ring into the Marumares mine in Hungary which somehow made it all the way to Wieliczka. When she arrived there, the miners where asked to dig until they reached rock. While digging they came across a lump of salt which when split open revealed her engagement ring (magic!). She then became the patron Saint of salt miners who built the chapel in the mine at the spot where the ring was found.
Some facts about the Chapel:
- It is 101 metres below the ground
- It is 31 metres long and 15 metres wide
- Even the chandeliers in the Chapel are carved from salt rock
- Up to 400 people can attend events held at the Chapel
- Concerts or Weddings can take place in the Chapel – I heard stories of people booking it for a party venue
Yes it is a little bit touristy, but I have spent time in other caves / mines which do really tacky light and music shows. It is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours and it reminded me a little of the Marble Arch Caves in Northern Ireland. Oh and to get back to the surface, you have to squeeze into an old lift as it speeds to the top of the mine 🙂