Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the oldest salt mine in Poland. Every year more them million people visit this place.
First archaeological sites says that salt from this area was mined 3000 years BC, humans were processing salt from shallow soil areas by vaporising water from salt mixture. From neolithic times till early medieval process of mining changed, people started building wells – deep on more then 20 meeters. Most of them were located in nowadays Wieliczka town. Medieval kings decide to use this resource and they founded own shafts. Which became professional not private random mine.
On year 1289 price Henry IV build bath, in this place medieval doctors were doing limited minor surgery.
In medieval times salt was precious commodity – it had big value. Around XIV century Polish Kingdom’s treasure had 30 percent income from salt mines. Those incomes helped Casimir the Great to build university and rebuild city – streets, brick buildings, market square.
In XVI century Salt Mine in Krakow became one of the biggest company in Europe – they were hiring miners, administration employees, carpenters, coopers, blacksmiths, coachmen, stables, doctors, cooks.
Mining technology was developing really slow, around year 1450 horses were introduced in mines – as transportation underground for goods. Salt helped kings to expand castle and army in next centuries until year 1772. When Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was invaded by Prussia, Russia and Austria.
After this event Wieliczka became part of Austro-Hungarian Empire new mining methods and tools were introduced. Austrians electrified mine, changed equipment to pneumatic drills.
Wieliczka had importance in health of citizens. In year 1826, doctor who worked for mine developed brine baths. Doctor was treating with brine baths 36 different diseases.
During WW II Salt Mine in Krakow almost stop working. And in early 50s when mine became again part of Poland and mining process till today.
In September 1978 Wieliczka Salt Mine became under protection of UNESCO – its one of the best places to tell history of mining in Europe. Also this mine is the ONLY one in world working constantly from medieval times till today.
Wieliczka mine has 9 levels, and all of the paths used my minder has 300 km length. Deepest part of mine is located 324 meeter underground. Air inside have specific microclimate – high humidity and sodium chloride particles – stable temperature (approx. 14-16 ° C), pressure, ionization and high potassium, magnesium and calcium particles in the air.
Touristic route – shows salt lakes, big halls and chambers, st. Kinga Chappel. During this route, expositions shows methods and tools used from medieval till today. All places are filled with electric light. Also different types of transportation of salt inside. Inside there is around 800 steps to walk. Almost 4 km route, 3 hours duration and 135 meeter of depth.
Miners route – tourists here are like real miners with helmets and lamps. All paths are dark, people need to use mining lamps to see the paths. This route is for people who want something different then normal sightseeing. Tour is around of Regis shaft, while walking this labyrinth tourists can learn about real work of miners, and also other professions working there – carpenters, doctors, food suppliers and many more who worked in Salt Mine in Krakow.
Check also: HISTORY of AUSCHWITZ