One of the most popular tourist attractions in Poland, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a true gem that is visited by over 1.2 million people every year. Proof of the mine’s considerable historical and cultural significance is the fact that it was one of the first 12 sites to be placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978. With a history dating back more than 700 years, the mine today features a series of magnificent underground chambers and passages, a lake, exhibits on the history of salt mining and a visitor’s route stretching over 3.5 km (which actually represents less than 2% of the total length of passageways in the mine). All of this makes this ‘white gold’ mine a unique monument on a world scale.
The first underground shaft was dug in Wieliczka in the second half of the 13th century, but the mine’s true golden age began in the 14th century when the income from salt mining accounted for as much as one-third of King Casimir the Great’s yearly revenue. Even back in those early days, the mine had acquired fame as an innovative place worth visiting, and the first known visitor there was a certain… Nicolaus Copernicus! He visited the mine in 1493, and since then it has been visited by many other notable figures, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Fryderyk Chopin, Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.
Over the centuries, the mine has been transformed from a lucrative industrial complex into one of the most popular tourist spots in Poland. Designated as one of Poland’s first official historic monuments in 1994, it welcomes large numbers of domestic and foreign visitors who are able to marvel at the wide array of underground wonders and also benefit from the health properties of the iodine-rich air. The mine today comprises a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels and chambers stretching a total of about 300 km and descending about 300 m underground, although only a small part is actually open to the public. The main attractions include the numerous mine shafts and passageways, an underground salt lake, exhibitions of historic salt-mining technology and four chapels, as well as many statues hewn out of rock salt. It is also home to the Krakow Saltworks Museum and an underground restaurant.
A trip to the Wieliczka mine is an opportunity not to be missed to learn more about history, enjoy some breathtaking views and hear fascinating stories of the legends related to this underground treasure.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
10 Daniłowicza Street
+48 12 278 73 02