For anyone travelling to, or near, Wieliczka in Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is definitely worth a visit. This underground mine is so large that only 2% of it can be visited, bear in mind that the tourist route still takes around 3 hours!
The route begins with a descent down a long staircase, taking you down 64 metres into the ground.
We came across this rock salt sculpture, based on the legend of Queen Kinga and the discovery of the Wieliczka salt mine in the 13th century. Apparently, Queen Kinga threw her engagement ring into the Maramures salt mine in Hungary, and it was carried to Wieliczka by the salt deposits where it was found, hence the discovery of the salt mines. The ring, contained in a block of salt, was then presented to the Queen, as depicted in this sculpture.
Something that people may very well stop doing after the coronavirus pandemic is taste the salt in the mines!
You can literally pick the cauliflower-looking salt off the walls and eat it.
After visiting the Weimar chamber, which holds an astounding salt brine lake, seeing St John’s chapel, and reaching the bottom of the St Kinga shaft…
We arrived at St Kinga’s chapel! This was the most impressive chamber for me; the rock salt was carved out into a grand space with glistening salt-crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, and the chapel had a magnificent acoustic.
Of course there is an underground souvenir shop, selling jewellery, rock salt lamps, mini sculptures and so on. Excuse the quality of this photo!
At the end of the tour, we took a lift back to the surface – much faster than climbing the stairs! Visiting the salt mines was definitely a good experience, and it is still so cool to think how nearly everything is carved out of salt, especially considering how vast the mine is.