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The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine is one of the most valuable monuments of material and spiritual culture in Poland. Each year it is visited by more than one million tourists from all over the world.
It is also a world class monument, featuring among twelve objects on the UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Today, the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine combines many centuries of tradition and modernity, the history of several hundred years and an underground metropolis with extensive infrastructure.
The mine is a product of work of tens of generations of miners, a monument to the history of Poland and to the Polish nation – a brand, present in Polish consciousness for centuries.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine (Polish: Kopalnia soli Wieliczka), located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest salt mines still in operation. From its beginning and throughout its existence, the Royal mine was run by the Żupy krakowskie Salt Mines. Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding.
The mine's attractions include dozens of statues, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The oldest sculptures are augmented by the new carvings by contemporary artists. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.
The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres (1,073 ft) and is over 300 kilometres (190 mi) long. The rock salt is naturally gray in various shades, resembling unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors may expect. During World War II, the shafts were used by the occupying Germans as an ad-hoc facility for various war-related industries. The mine features an underground lake; and the new exhibits on the history of salt mining, as well as a 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) touring route (less than 2% of the length of the mine's passages) that includes historic statues and mythical figures carved out of rock salt in distant past. More recent sculptures have been fashioned by contemporary artists.
Originally posted by predator0187