A European vacation is every traveler’s dream. So naturally, one would think about its major cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris or Berlin. Yet, besides these fancy and more popular sites, there’s a city in Poland worth visiting, Krakow.
Krakow is a large city in Poland full of great sites and historical significance. It has filled with stately architecture and cultural heritage sites. Its old town was even designated a UNESCO World Heritage. Even some of its famous landmarks, like Rynek Główny, showcases the city’s 13th-century old style.
Krakow has been around since time immemorial. Meaning it has thousands of historic buildings and landmarks dotting around. You would see churches, Gothic-styled cathedrals, cobbled streets, and many more. One of the most visited, just nearby Krakow, is the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine found near Krakow is another important landmark. The salt mine is another significant place in Krakow City. Like any other site in Krakow, it is historically relevant and worth visiting.
Thus, read on as we tour you around the salt mine and convince you why it is worth visiting.
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Why is the Wieliczka Salt Mine important?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine has been an essential part of Polish history. It contributed to the transformation of the old city into an industrial center in Krakow.
While the city was being rebuilt into the country’s industrial hub, the salt mine came into play. It was one of the significant industrial undertakings with royal status during that time. Moreover, it is the oldest salt mine in the entire European continent. It became in operation for at least 700 years.
To investigate the salt mine further, here are its top amazing facts:
- Europe’s best mining techniques
- Historical and architectural relevance
As Europe was developing its mining industry, the Wieliczka played a crucial role. The salt mine displayed the historical stages of the growth of mining in the continent. It came into operation from the 13th century up to 20th century Europe. You will see in its galleries and chambers miners’ social and religious beliefs. It reflects the socio-technical system of underground mining in Europe.
The salt mine is an ancient structure. It preserved the century-old authenticity of the mining industry in Poland. The whole systems already withstand many centuries and still being kept until now. When you explore the site, you will see evidence of its uniqueness and authenticity. It is way different from the mining industry today.
The salt mine is an old engineering structure. It displayed the architectural styles related to 13th century Europe. When you visit it, you will see underground tunnels, a sanatorium, museums, and chapels. It reflects the past working conditions of European miners during that time. Also, their carvings exhibiting the religious beliefs of people at that time.
How deep is the Wieliczka Salt Mine?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is estimated 327 meters in depth. It has horizontal passages and chambers that reach up to 178 miles. When you visit the Mine, you will be informed that 380 stairs are connecting 64 meters under. It is a very deep salt mine that people dare to visit on their trip to Poland.
Once you reach the Mine for the first time, you will be confronted by its mysteries and hidden structures. Here are the essential things you should expect to see in Wieliczka Salt Mine:
- Limitless corridors
- Crystal Caves
- Mining sites
When you take the route in the Mine, you will notice that there are endless ramps, drifts, and crosscuts. The area is so enormous that only 2% of the total structure is allowed for tourists. Initially, the dug was low, but once miners took more profound into the location, it became more expansive.
If you want to measure the corridors, it will reach up to 245 km. The Mine is complex with multiple levels that have underground corridors and passages.
Since the area had a massive deposit of rock salt, miners dig endlessly, leaving endless chambers. Inside the mining ground is several chambers indicating a considerable amount and work made on the site. Every chamber would exhibit vastness and excavations during the olden times. Some of the chambers are Janowice Chamber, Weimar Chamber and Pieskowa Skała Chamber.
Even though tourists are not permitted on this part of the Mine, it is still worth mentioning. The crystal grottoes would interest you with a fantastic rock salt formation. It is the most hidden gem of Wieliczka that was just recently discovered. It was only in the 19th century that the caves were first unveiled. It was an unexpected discovery indicating that the Mine has so many mysteries inside. It is around 114 meters deep and considered an inanimate nature reserve.
In this part of the Mine, you will see how miners work in ancient times. You would see holes in the working walls, where miners extract salt. They have processes to follow, which is highly evident in the mining sites. Your guide will be able to explain the process once you are inside. It is well-preserved even though it is not used for mining anymore. The site has served as part of the tourist route where they can learn more about the place.
How much is entry to salt mines in Krakow?
Of course, having a tour in the salt mine is worth it. You would be paying an amount of as much as $9 to get an adult pass. It will entitle you with an entry to the salt mine in Krakow and guide service during the tour.
There are different routes available for you. Depending on what you want to take, the price also varies. To get you the full details of the ticket cost, here are the following:
- Standard ticket – $2
- Family ticket (4 people) – $6
- Children – free admission
- Pass of 5 tickets – $9
The salt mine is open throughout the year. There are some exceptions during the holidays. If you want to book a tour, you can buy tickets online. It is available from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm daily.
Remember, you will not be permitted alone inside the salt mine. The pass comes with a tour service led by a local guide. You will not be able to gain access to the salt mine unless you have a tour guide.
How long does the Krakow salt mine tour take?
The salt mine in Krakow is a very massive structure that will take a long time to finish the tour. It will usually take up to 5 hours max. The ride to the salt mine will take 40 minutes, while the guided tour can take up to 2 to 3 hours long.
To better prepare you for a visit, here are the routes available for you. Depending on the route you take, the hours to finish the tour will vary:
- Tourist route
- The Miner’s Route
- The Pilgrim’s Route
- Graduation Tower
- Multiple routes
The tourist route is the most known route most visitors take. It will give you access to the binding sites inside the salt mine. In this route, you will see sculptures, chambers, chandeliers, mural, and many more.
The route will start at the Danilowicz shaft, where you will be passing through 135 deep into the ground. You will be able to reach almost 1.9 miles of winding doors and see sight after sight inside the chamber.
Also, on this route, you can explore one of the clearest and tranquil waters. underground lake. You will notice the fantastic acoustic the underground creates.
In this route, the famous Chapel of St. Kinga is included. It is the only underground church you can see in entire Europe. Thus, you can marvel at the magnificent carvings and breathtaking works of the olden times.
Another route worth seeing is the Miner’s Route. Here you will see the underground salt labyrinth, chambers, and well-preserved Regis Shaft.
This route is designed for people who want to know the life inside the salt mine. You will learn how miners live and work in this route. You will be able to experience how it feels like to become a miner. Also, you will dress up like a miner where you will be given mining gear. It includes mining equipment, a miner’s helmet, and a POG absorber.
The tour will start at the Regis shaft in the center of Wieliczka town. This part of the salt mine is separated from the tourist route. As a miner, you will also be provided with different mining tasks. It includes searching for salt, testing the air in the Mine, and getting to the correct route. It is one of the most incredible activities you can have.
If you are a pilgrim and want to see the salt mine, they have a special route for you. The trail is being offered for the faithful and is accompanied by a priest. There will be prayer stops, food, and a holy mass at the end of the tour on this route. It will take 2 and 30 minutes, as well.
If you do not want to go through the underground, there is a route for you. The graduation tower is accessible for people who want to go deep into the salt mine. It is a 22m high observation tower and the perfect spot to see the mine shafts. Moreover, you will be able to see St. Kinga Park from this spot.
The tower has a calming effect on those who visit. It has a natural brine mist being carried by air and tends to be therapeutic. If you have some respiratory issue, you can spend some time in the tower, tool. It is highly recommended for people who have allergies, skin, and inhalation problems. It is a great way to relax, as well.
If you want to experience all the routes, the salt mine also has a package for you. You can buy a ticket for multiple paths. In this way, you will explore both the Tourist Route and the Miner’s Route. If ever you want this experience, you need to allot more time spending inside the salt mine. A day tour is needed for this route.
How far from Krakow is the salt mine?
The salt mine is nearby Krakow. It will take you around fifteen minutes from Krakow to be able to reach the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Here are the ways to get the Salt Mine from Krakow:
- Tour agency
There is a line connecting between Krakow and the salt mine. You need to get on Bus 304 near the Galeria Krakowska in Old Town Krakow. The bus line runs every after 10 minutes, so it is easier for you to catch up. You just need to buy the Strefa I (Zone I) or a II Aglomeracja transport ticket for this bus.
The train is another great option to reach the salt mine. It is faster than taking Bus 304. It is also an excellent way to see the beautiful view of Poland out the window. You need to get to the Koleje Malopolskie train line at the Krakow Main Railway Station to reach the Mine.
The easiest way is to book an agency for the tour. The agency will arrange the necessary details for and pick you up in your hotel.
The Salt Mine in Krakow is an excellent experience. Aside from marveling at the 13th-century most straightforward old mine structure, you will be able to learn about history, too. So, when you visit Krakow the first time, do not forget to have a short detour in Wieliczka Salt Mine.