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Wieliczka Salt Mine Facts - Canada Salt Group Ltd


Wieliczka Salt Mine Facts

A travelling Frenchman discovered the Wieliczka salt mine in the 18th century southeast of Kraków, Poland. This weird, beautiful, maze-like subterranean world of passages, tunnels, and cavers was in continuous use for over 900 years until the mining was stopped in 1996 because of declining prices and slow, inevitable flooding. This article will explore the amazing facts of the Wieliczka salt mine.

Wieliczka Salt Mine History

Wieliczka Salt Mine was the world’s biggest and most profit-generating salt mine during the medieval period, which is equal to oil mining today. It is considered the oldest in Europe and, shockingly, has over 300 kms of tunnels and passages across nine levels, with the deepest of one being at 327 metres. Also, 2000 chambers are interconnected, from 64 to 135 metres deep.

Wieliczka Salt Mine Now

Every year, more than one million people visit Wieliczka Salt Mine. Inside the mine is a chapel of St.kinga, the biggest chamber by any standard at 54 metres by 18 metres. Remember that the chapel is situated in deep underground. Amazing chandeliers, the altar, detailed carvings, sculptures, and bas-reliefs are all made of salt. It took only two brothers 30 years to remove 20,000 tonnes of rock salt deposits and carve the salt mine. However, Due to safety concerns, only 4 kilometres of the tunnel is open for visitors and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Amazing Facts of Wieliczka Salt Mine

Wieliczka Salt Mine is Over 700 Years

The Wieliczka Salt Mine has a long history, starting in the 13th century. People collected and treated the brine that rose to the surface to get salt for its sodium chloride content. King Casimir II the Great played a major role in improving the Wieliczka Salt Mine. He gave the Mine special rights and protected the miners who worked there.

Wieliczka Salt Mining Created a Third of Poland’s Income

Salt mining was a big deal in Poland, making up a third of the royal treasury’s income. Salt was important and valuable, called “White gold.” During those days, people used salt to pay for things and work, so we now call our earnings “salary.” Many bigger buildings and royal palaces were built because of all the earnings made from salt. Families who made their fortune from salt had names linked to the salt.

It Has 300 Kilometres of Tunnels

The Wieliczka Salt Mine has an incredible network of tunnels dug over many years. Although these tunnels spread through different directions, nine main levels are about 330 meters deep, the deepest. Visitors can only explore a small part of these tunnels, but the ones they see are truly amazing. Some tunnels open to chapels, like the amazing Chapel of Saint Kinga. This huge chapel has an area of over 400 square meters and can accommodate up to 400 people. Everything in this chapel, from the altar to the chandeliers, is made of salt. It’s the greatest achievement in terms of both creativity and engineering. Sometimes, the chapel hosts weddings, concerts, and theatre performances.

It Has an Underground Wellness Complex

Salt has always been linked to health and wellness. For many generations, people believed that the salty sea air could cure almost any illness, and there’s an explanation for this statement. Salt is a natural disinfectant with preserving and antibacterial abilities, so it has been used in medical treatments for hundreds of years. Due to salt in the mine’s structure, an underground health center has been set up for individuals with chronic respiratory and allergic conditions. People can stay for long periods in the accommodations within the mine and get the purest air in the world; many believe in its healing effects.

Majority of the Mine is Made of Salt

Most tunnels have walls, ceilings, and floors carved directly from salt. You’ll also find several sculptures and reliefs made from salt throughout the mine. One of the most impressive things one can witness is the huge salt crystals hanging from many chandeliers. Although they may appear made of glass, they’re actually huge salt crystals formed from dissolved and redesigned rock salt.

Hot Air Ballooning and Bungee Jumping Happened in the Mine

In 2014, a hot air balloon rose about 65 feet above the mine floor for 4 minutes. It was a world record, but there’s no evidence of this event besides the information on the mine’s website. Wieliczka holds Guinness World Records for the largest polonaise, a Polish dance, and the world’s largest lasagna, but not for the hot air balloon event. A Croatian mine has the record for the first and deepest underground hot air balloon ride. Apart from bungee jumping, various activities took place in the mine, including soccer games and windsurfing on the underground lake.

However, these activities didn’t occur during the mine’s operational days. Certain mine areas can now be rented for dinners, weddings, and concerts.

The Mine has Four Chapels

Conditions inside the Mine were not ideal, so the miners built four chapels for prayer. Princess Kinga, from the 13th century, is the patron saint of the mine. The impressive St. Kinga’s Chapel is dedicated to her and features a significant salt statue of her. This chapel also houses several chandeliers hanging with rock salt crystals, which look like glass crystals.

Horses Sent Into the Mine for Work Cannot Leave

This fact might not be pleasing to modern-day environmentalists. Horses were used to operate the horse treadmills, a pulley system similar to the device seen in movies where horses turn a winch to raise and lower the salt baskets. To bring the horses into the mine, they were lowered with the help of a harness, which could have been frightening for them. It was also a one-way journey, as no one wanted to lift the horses back out of the mine. The treadmills can still be operated because of the preservative properties of the salt.

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