EUROPEAN VACATION DAY 11 :: WIELICZKA, POLAND ::
On our way back to Kraków
, we stopped to tour the Wieliczka Salt Mine. Normally, we wouldn't be too excited to spend a couple hours deep underground, but just about everything seems fun and uplifting after a day at a death camp
The Wieliczka Salt Mine actually proved to be quite interesting. It is one of the oldest mines in the world and is included on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites
. For over 700 years, miners used their hands and simple tools to carve an enormous labyrinth of caverns stretching over 300 kilometers long and over 1000 feet deep. To pass the time, the miners and artists sculpted impressive statues and an entire cathedral in the translucent rock. The "tile" floors, the "brick" walls, and even the "crystal" in the chandeliers are made of pure salt.
The air in the caverns is well-ventilated and kept very pure by the natural salinity of the environment. An actual hospital exists in the lower levels where patients can recover from respiratory ailments. The chambers are also famous for their accoustics, and concerts are regularly held there. Some extremely large caverns are famous for containing the first underground hot air balloon ride and the first underground bungee jump. Famous visitors to the mines include Copernicus, Goethe, Mendeleev, John Paul II, Bill Clinton, and of course, John & Kristie!
Next post: Gelnhausen, Germany
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