Polish natural attraction welcomes over 1.5 million tourists
In 2016, the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine – one of Poland's biggest attractions – was visited by a record 1.5 million tourists. Chapels carved in salt, sculptures, underground saline lakes and numerous traces of the exploitation of salt deposits make this mine, a must-see attraction. Visitors of the mine can enjoy a huge variety of things to do, including, shopping, eating a delicious meal, concerts, visiting a health spa and even meeting the miners.
Entered onto the UNESCO List of Global Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1978, the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine remains one of the oldest companies in Europe, with its origin dating back to the Middle Ages. Following the history of the salt from Wieliczka brings us even farther back in time to around 6000 years ago, when the pre-historic people inhabiting the region were salt makers, who extracted salt from brine water springs.
In the past, salt was like gold, and Wieliczka was truly the crown jewel of Polish kings. The salt from Wieliczka was well known and appreciated far and wide, and over the centuries, the underground corridors have been toured by many famous people, including Copernicus, Chopin and Mendeleev. Even today it is possible to meet royalty and Hollywood stars there.
With over 2300 chambers, 250 kilometres of corridors and 9 levels the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine resembles a mythical labyrinth, with various traces and marks dating back centuries. Natural monuments, such as the Crystal Grottoes created in the Miocene salt deposit, make this a truly breathtaking experience.
A setting 64-135 metres underground is one of the most valuable and beautiful areas of the mine. Every year, hundreds of unique events are held there – including balloon flights and bungee jumping. The Mine also holds concerts, conferences, weddings and balls. The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort is a must try for those on a health kick, with its clean fresh air, filled with salt aerosol bringing relief to many suffering with respiratory system diseases.
Despite the fact that salt is no longer mined there, the site still employs many miners, who are tasked with securing the underground cultural and natural heritage. They also carry on the centuries-long mining traditions, such as carving and sculpting in salt.