Krakow Salt Mines: A Sight to Behold

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Category: Blogging

What is in a salt mine? You might ask. It is probably because you have not seen Krakow Salt Mines – or the Wieliczka Salt Mine, to be exact. For many, this salt mine is the most glorious attraction in Krakow. That is quite an honour because Krakow has a number historic sites and architectural splendours. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well.

What Is it Actually

It was an actual salt mine once. The place is full of sodium deposits. The Wieliczka Salt Mine was established in the 13th century. Yes. The 13th century. Salt mining continued unabated till 1996. Then it was discontinued, mainly because of dwindling profits and rising environmental damage.

By that time, the digging had reached a depth of 327 meters spread over about 300 kilometres. Once the mining stopped, the authorities decided to convert it into a museum of sorts. It would display the history of salt-mining techniques, statues made of the salt stone and other possible art forms. People would walk through a specially carved pathway and enjoy the salt-mine history and the sculptures.

The idea in itself was fantastic. But what turned out from that idea is mind-bogglingly magnificent.  There is an artificial lake; exact replicas of famous painting and sculptures; a labyrinth-like pathway; the windy air that is said to have medicinal properties, especially for the benefit of the heart; and a treasure trove of information of salt mines.

In short, it has become a must-visit for any tourist in general, and those visiting Poland especially.

Tips to Visit Krakow Salt Mines

Travel to the Mine: The Wieliczka Salt Mine is about 15 km away from Krakow. It will take around 20-30 minutes by bus or car. The bus fare is around 1 Euro. Train is also available. Fare is almost the same as the bus, if not slightly lower. Journey by train is obviously more comfortable. But the bus stop is nearer to the Krakow Salt Mines than the railway station.

Opening Hours: The opening times varies with the season. In July and August, it opens at 8 AM and closes at 7 PM. In April, May, June, September and October, it starts at 8.30 AM and ends at 7 PM. In the rest of the months, the mine remains open from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Guided Tours: Guided tour in English is available every 30 minutes. Guided tours in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian are available too, but are less frequent. Each guided tour batch can have a maximum of 40 persons. The ticket charge for a person is 22 Euros for Polish citizens and 21 Euros for foreigners.

Choice of Tours: There are four options: 1. Tourist Route, 2. Miners’ Route, 3. Graduation Route and 4. Pilgrims’ Route. If you are visiting for the first time, Tourist Route is the best. The most exciting route, by popular consensus, is the Miners’ Route, but it skips some of the main attractions. Graduation Route is for those who look health-related or medicinal benefits. Pilgrims’ Route is, as the name implies, for the religiously inclined.

As you can see, there is something in Krakow Salt Mines for everybody. Go there. Your body and mind will be rejuvenated.

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