Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wielicka Salt Mines

After touring the Wawel (castle) in Krakow and its great cathedral, we took a mini-bus to Wielicka (vee-LEECH-kah), one of two major salt mines near Krakow. Ever since the Stone Age, this area has been a source of salt, first through boiling brine to extract it from easily reached top layers and then in the 13th century digging for salt gradually created these great mines. For centuries, salt was the major source of wealth for this region of Poland.

Listed as a UNESCO monument since 1978, the Wieliczka mine has 9 levels and the tour covers a series of chambers full of carvings and statues - completely decorated in salt. In the large room pictured, above, everything is made of salt....the crystals in the chandeliers, the floor "tiles," the wall carvings....the miners spent a lot of time down here and used their spare time to carve statues and chapels.

The Last Supper carved into the salt mine wall

Typical statues found in the salt mine.

John and Alison at the gate to the Krakow castle (our morning tour before the salt mine).

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