The Wieliczka Salt Mine: Poland Salt Mine Art

4 views – Travel the corridors of the Wieliczka salt mine inspired Polish writer Bolesław Prus to write down his most famous novel -”Pharaoh”. Over the centuries, all of the explored chambers of the salt mine in Poland are transformed into artistic masterpieces.

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The Wieliczka mine’s deposit is dated back to the center Miocene – 13.6 million years ago. Currently, it reaches a depth of 327 meters (1,073 ft.) and it’s 287 km (178 miles) long. This site is one of the best attractions in southern Poland, but also one of the country’s most important natural treasures.

The first people entered the mine and began using the salt from the deposit during the Neolithic period. This Polish salt mine may be a key part of the region’s culture and also an exquisite underground monument that commemorates many generations of miners.


Surface and underground views of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. 


Miners from the Past

The Wieliczka mine is one of the best cultural discoveries predating Christianity during this area of Poland.

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The southern part of Poland was home to several different tribes over the years. Actually, it’s impossible to count all of the cultures who used the mine’s salt deposit, but researchers are ready to identify a minimum of some of them.

Studies show that the exploration of the Wieliczka salt mine started 6,000 years ago, or maybe even earlier.


Inside the Wieliczka salt mine. ( jovannig /Adobe Stock)


While finding out the footsteps of the first salt miners, researchers explored many Neolithic and other ancient cemeteries during this area. one among the foremost important sites was discovered in Breeze. As Agnieszka Czekaj-Zastawny and Paweł Jarosz reported in their article:

”The site was discovered in 1992 during a surface survey administered by Ryszard Naglik and Tomasz Wichman within a project of the Archaeological Picture of Poland (AZP). In 1996 a little a part of it had been examined […] within the years 2000–2007, before the development of Motorway A4 (the Cracow-Tarnów section), the location was subjected to wide-area rescue excavations. On the Breeze site, the area of 6 hectares was scheduled for archaeological examination. The excavations revealed 2800 structures associated with several cultures of the Neolithic Period and therefore the Bronze Age and 110 000 small artifacts. Dominant are structures of the Linear Pottery culture. There are remains of settlement houses with post-construction. The second most frequent Neolithic unit represented at the location is that the Malice culture. there have been also registered artifacts of the Baden culture and therefore the Corded Ware culture. A pit grave is said to the latter. Numerous settlement traces from the Bronze Age are linked with the Mierzanowice and Lusatian cultures.”

The earliest salt miners used it to preserve meat and fish. afterward, it had been seen as a valuable commodity for trade and payment. rock salt from the Polish mine was also exploited from the 13th to the 20th centuries.

Just by the end of the center Ages, it’s estimated that there have been 300–350 people working within the mine and that they produced about seven to eight plenty of salt. The Wieliczka salt mine is connected with the Bochnia mine, and over the years they created a powerful complex of many kilometers of galleries.

Saint Kinga and therefore the Salt Mines in Poland

Saint Kinga of Poland, also referred to as Cunegunda, lived March 5, 1224, to July 24, 1292.

She was a noblewoman from Hungary who married Bolesław V the Chaste, the Prince of Crackow (Kraków). The story of her life is filled with scandals and romantic stories, however, many books that describe her as a saint don’t discuss these aspects of her life.

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She is additionally the main character of a powerful legend connected to the salt mines in Poland. Kinga, who wasn’t a typical medieval lady, but a lady whose temperament caused her many troubles, apparently threw her ring into the Maramures salt mine near her family castle in Hungary. Legends say the ring traveled through the salt deposit to Wieliczka, where it had been discovered by the miners.


Saint Kinga’s Chapel depicting when a miner finds her ring. ( Natalia Bratslavsky /Adobe Stock)


After the invention, this a part of the mine became Saint Kinga’s Chapel because people believed that this was a miracle. They created a stunning statue of Kinga and made her the defender of salt miners. With time, the small chapel becomes a little cathedral dedicated to Saint Kinga of Poland. This site is found 101 meters (331.37 ft.) underground.

Kinga was beatified in 1690 and canonized in 1999. However, her rebellious nature casts some doubt over if she was an honest candidate to become a saint.


A chapel within the main hall within the Wieliczka salt mine, Poland. ( Pavlo Vakhrushev /Adobe Stock)


The Darkest Episode within the Famous Polish Salt Mine’s History

During war II, the Nazis controlled the area around the mine and transported several thousands of Jews thereto. They were close to starting work on the location when the Soviet offensive arrived and ended the Nazis’ plans.

However, the Nazis had expected the army’s arrival, such a lot of the equipment, including an electrical hoisting machine, was already disassembled and transported to the Sudetes mountains. The Jewish prisoners had also been taken to camps and factories in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany. This event was the start of the top for the mine.


Wieliczka salt mine in Poland. ( milangonda /Adobe Stock)


The Wieliczka Salt Mine Today

The hardworking salt miners transformed the mine into a powerful piece of art. Most of the touristic a part of the mine was created during the 18th and 19th centuries. Every chamber is devoted to a special story. for instance, one among the oldest chambers is dedicated to Copernicus, who probably visited the mine in 1493.

The spaces used for exhibitions use just 3.5 km (2.2miles) – but 2% of the length of the entire mine passages. However, this area is filled with historical and mythical statues and figures made from halite. many of us ask to urge married inside the salt mine’s cathedral.

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Nowadays, the salt mine in Wieliczka is one of the foremost impressive attractions in Poland. A visit underground surrounded by beautiful pieces of art made from salt is an unforgettable experience. The Wieliczka and Bochnia salt mines in Poland officially became protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2010.

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