Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland

Welcome to the last of my posts from Poland. (I am so ashamed it took me over eight months to get this whole series up... talk about procrastination!) Although Wieliczka is technically a sight of Kraków, because it's such a special destination, I wanted to give it a post of its own.

Only a 25 minute train ride from Kraków, Wieliczka is a salt mine and a UNESCO Heritage Sight. It operated from the 13th century to 2007. 

Now, it's mostly a tourist site, as well as providing health facilities due to the healing properties of salt caves. There's an underground hotel where people with health problems, such as asthma, come to get better. 

The only way to see the salt mine is to go on a tour, which is really helpful because a) they lead you through the underground labyrinths and b) you learn about the history of the miners and the mine itself. 

The history of Wieliczka begins with the legend of Princess Kinga, a Hungarian noblewoman who threw her engagement ring into the shaft of a mine in Hungary before coming to Poland to marry the King. When she arrived in Kraków, she asked miners to dig a deep pit, where they found her ring within a salt rock. That hole was the beginning of Wieliczka. They found huge salt deposits there, and started the mine on that very spot.

Above is the largest chamber in the mine. Many masses have been held here, since there's a chapel located here as well. In fact, there are many, many chapels in the mine. Typical Poles.

Also underground are these stunning lakes. The water is absolutely freezing, since we're over 50 m underground. These lakes and rivers were used to navigate between the caverns at one point.

After spending hours underground, it's a shock to your system to come back into the light. Apart from being an interesting cultural experience, Wieliczka is a great place to reset your system. The health benefits of salt caves are starting to make their way into North America, with caves being constructed from scratch. It's called "Halotherapy", and some caves even bring in Polish specialists to make sure the caves are set up properly. 

Poland, you were a joy. Thanks for the countless moments, the beautiful sights, and time spent with family.