Going a 1,000 feet below the earth’s surface, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is situated in the city of Kraków in southern Poland. The salt mine is so huge that the Eiffel Tower would fit into it with 3 metres still to spare. It has 100 mile-long tunnels, interspersed over 9 levels, and the complex situated within it is entirely carved out of salt.
Wieliczka Salt Mine is cited as a salt mine that has been continuously and incessantly mined since the Middle Age, though the commercial mining ceased in 1996. The church that it impregnates has flooring, walls, frames, decorations and chandeliers made entirely out of salt and glistening salt crystals. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the salt mine is a baffling labyrinth of passages and chambers made solely out of salt. Before salt mining became less profitable, Weilczka Salt Mine used to contribute to almost one-third of Poland’s income.
The underground map of the chapel elaborating its first 3 levels
A flight of around 378 stairs will take you down the mine and here’s what you will see
The Chapel of St. Kinga alone took 67 years to be carved out. It is the largest underground chapel in the world, carved out of salt, including the chandelier. The chandelier is embellished with salt crystals. The chapel is still functional and you can even book it for an event or a wedding.
Salt sculpture of Pope John Paul II
An underground lake found in the salt mine
The Last Supper sculpted out of salt
How did the carving begin?
Since the 13th century, the miners brought out the creativity in them and began carving on the walls. The process gradually progressed from paintings to sculpting out chapels. The need to pray and find a suitable place to do so was led to the sculpting of over 20 chapels.
There are many underground chambers that'll surprise you. Read all about them here.
Author: Winnie Karnik