Just outside Krakow is an old Salt mine. It’s a world heritage site due to all the carvings the miners made, all completely out of solid rock salt. Today I took a tour of the mine. For this I booked through KrakowShuttle.com. I was picked up in a lovey Mercedes van with 6 other tourists and taken to the salt mine site (about 20 minutes drive). Here we met up with a group of about 30 others. Only about 35-40 people are taken through the mine in groups. I would recommend doing this with a company like KrakowShuttle, we just breezed past the lines of people queuing and only waited a few minutes. You are given a headset so you can hear the guide telling you about the mine as you walk through it.
The tour descends down to a total of about 160 metres. You take a few hundred stairs down to 61 metres then slowly descend further as you complete the tour. The entire tour lasts about 3 hours and you walk about 4km in total. Thankfully the return to the surface is via a very modern, corporate style lift. Its not a typical mine shaft lift.
The mine is amazing, massive caverns inside with underground churches carved completely out of salt. Almost everything except some wood support structures is salt. Not sure why, but my immediate thought on going down was “umm, everything made of salt, this place won’t have a snail or slug problem”. During the standard introduction our guide Simon, asked if there were any British, Americans, Canadians etc. When he got to “Any Australians” three of us raised our hands, myself and the two guys who happened to be standing next to me. Both Joe and Andrew are also from Sydney and Andrew is also in the Sutherland Shire (Cronulla). It’s truly a small world !
During the dark and middle ages, and up until the invention of refrigeration and mechanical extraction of salt from sea water, naturally occurring salt was an extremely valuable commodity. Much like how we value oil and other energy commodities today. Krakow and Poland grew rich at this time from salt.
The entry and new up the stairwell.
Every carving and even the floor is made of Salt.
In this section you had to pay an additional 10 zloty (AUD$3) to take photos. Make sure you have some cash or coins on you.
I couldn’t believe my luck, they sell coffee at the bottom of the mine. First coffee I’ve ever had 160m below the surface. It was crappy machine made coffee, but come on guys, journey to the centre of the earth and everything, with coffee !!
Fellow Aussie Adventurers Andrew and Joe
Video from the Salt Mine Tour