Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Amazing Salt Mines of Wieliczka

A few miles south of Krakow lies the site of one of the wonders of the world – the amazing Salt Mines of Wieliczka. I had an opportunity to visit there yesterday, and was blown away by the scope of the site and the beauty of the works of art that have been carved into the heart of the earth. Within the picturesque town of Wieliczka a salt mine operated for over 800 years. Ten years ago, the mine was converted into a place that tourists could visit. During the centuries that the mine produced salt for commercial purposes, the workers excavated hundreds of miles of tunnels and thousands of underground caverns. Artists working in the mines added their own special touch by carving statues of saints and historic figures, as well as a series of chapels – the most spectacular of which is breath-taking in its size and beauty. It is decorated with chandeliers fashioned from salt crystals, and boasts a bas relief of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” carved into the salt rock. It is a work of art in its own right.

During the tour, we walked down towards the center of the earth the equivalent of 45 stories – almost the height of Boston’s Prudential Center building! Fortunately, the return trip to the surface was accomplished in elevators.

If you are ever in the vicinity of Krakow, the salt mines of Wieliczka are not to be missed!

Happy New Year!


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