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Wieliczka Salt Mine

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Wieliczka Salt Mine
Krupowki Street - Pedestrian Zone
Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine

 The famous Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest salt mines still in operation. Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding.

The mine's attractions include dozens of statues and four chapels that have been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The oldest sculptures are augmented by the new carvings by contemporary artists.

 The mine is one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments as designated in the first round, September 16, 1994. Its listing is maintained by the National Heritage Board of Poland.

The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres and is over 287 kilometres long. During World War II, the shafts were used by the occupying Germans as an ad-hoc facility for various war-related industries. The mine features an underground lake; and the new exhibits on the history of salt mining, as well as a 3.5 kilometres  touring route that includes historic statues and mythical figures carved out of rock salt in distant past. More recent sculptures have been fashioned by contemporary artists.

The Wieliczka mine is often referred to as "the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland." In 1978 it was placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites. Even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance. It also houses a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.

 In 2010 it was successfully proposed that the nearby historic Bochnia Salt Mine (Poland's oldest salt mine) be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.