Amazing Wieliczka Salt Mine (19 pictures)
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland. The mine was built in the 13th century and it produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest salt mines still in operation.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine reaches a depth of 327 metres (1,073 ft) and is over 287 kilometres (178 mi) long. The rock salt is naturally gray in various shades, resembling unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors may expect.
The mine’s attractions include dozens of statues, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The oldest sculptures are augmented by the new carvings by contemporary artists. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.
The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres (1,073 ft) and is over 287 kilometres (178 mi) long. The rock salt is naturally gray in various shades, resembling unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors may expect. During World War II, the shafts were used by the occupying Germans as an ad-hoc facility for various war-related industries. The mine features an underground lake; and the new exhibits on the history of salt mining, as well as a 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) touring route (less than 2% of the length of the mine’s passages) that includes historic statues and mythical figures carved out of rock salt in distant past. [Source]
A wooden staircase with 378 steps provides access to the 64 metres (210 ft) level of the mine. There is a 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) tour of the mine’s corridors, chapels, statues and lake, 135 metres (443 ft) underground. An elevator provides access to the surface. The elevator holds 36 people (nine per car) and takes some 30 seconds to reach the surface. [Source]