The Wieliczka Salt Mine is situated in the southern part of Poland, in the town of Wieliczka – this explains the name given to the mine.
This specific salt mine bears a historical significance due to the fact that it is the single mine in the world to have been working continuously ever since the medieval times. The structure of the mine is definitely impressive in the sense that it is layered on 9 levels, covering a surface of nearly 300 km and a depth of 327 m. The space is accurately organized so as to reveal the entire mining procedure, with all the developing stages, as these have evolved throughout time.
These characteristics of the site have led the Wieliczka Salt Mine to be included on the first list of Cultural and Natural Heritage developed by UNESCO, on the 8th of September 1978.
It is common knowledge that salt was the engine to stir the economy of the state. In fact, during the period of the Kingdom of Poland, salt was a medium of payment, legally recognized by the state. This goes to show the importance attached to this mineral.
As the time went by and as new technological developments emerged, the site began to be exploited extensively. Unfortunately, this also led to the instability of the salt mine, especially since the workers did not take the necessary precautions to ensure the firmness of the salt walls. The result was that the exploitation work was concluded in 1996.
But the Wieliczka Salt Mine was arranged so as to meet various purposes: touristic, cultural and well-being.
What attracts tourists to this site are the numerous statuettes, as well as the chapel, which have been carved in the salt rocks. The original statues were actually crafted by miners, but they were later on improved by the hands of capable artists which have transformed them into beautiful sculpture. It is no wonder that more than one million visitors come to Wieliczka Salt Mine on a yearly basis.
At present this is the most visited site in the country due to the artistic representations encountered within the underground chambers. The place is definitely exploited to the fullest, for touristic purposes this time. There are numerous events held here, such classical music concerts. The salt rocks chambers have great acoustics so you can only imagine the sound quality of the orchestras performing in the mine.
There are temporary exhibitions held at Wieliczka Salt Mine and the items on display are the works of art of renowned artists such as Richard Horowitz and Jerzy Skolimowski. This goes to prove just how appreciated this site is if artists from different corners of the world come to Poland in order to present their work in this unique “gallery.”
Tourists might also be attracted by the matchless experiences that the mine has to offer, such as the opportunity to do bungee jumping in the salt chambers. Performing the extreme sport is in itself an act of courage because you are supposed to plunge into the abyss. While you will normally plummet from a bridge, dam or tall building, even a crane, the underground bungee jumping is definitely a new experience, one that you are bound to remember for the rest of your life.
There was also the possibility to surf on an underground lake. The European champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz got to undertake this mission when he visited the salt mine. The event was televised and it featured various celebrities. But none other except Kusznierewicz managed to ride the wave which was artificially created with the help of a huge blower.
As you can see, the mine performs several roles: that of a museum and a recreational facility. In order to gain access into the mine you will have to purchase a ticket. The price varies, depending if you visit the mine on your own or as part of a group.
April, 1st – October, 31st: 7.30 a.m. – 7.30 p.m.
November, 2nd – March, 31st : 8.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m.