Being in a guided tour is a new experience for us. The pace is amazing! We are often up and out of our hotel by 7:15 AM. We are among the first groups to enter any exhibit. So we are keeping quite a pace!
So I think I left off at the salt mines in Kraków. Historically, if I recall correctly, 1/3 of the revenue of Krakow was procured from the salt mines. It was an important commodity to preserve food. “Salary”=white gold.
Three days ago (!!!) we arrived there about 8 AM, presumably to avoid the crowds. But all the other groups had the same idea!
But down we went into the subterranean salt mines which had been mined from 1241-1964. Of the 2354 chambers, 9 levels and 2500 km of tunnels, we visited about 3 levels, 7 km, and I lost count of how many chambers.
Horses were lowered into the mines and for 400 years pulled 2-3 loads daily in 8 hour shifts.
Miners worked eight hours shifts. There are still minersto this day, although if I recall correctly, they are mostly opening up tunnels and re-creating spaces for more tourists. Mines currently house a hotel, snack bars, restaurant, and a convention meeting space.
One of the most spectacular attractions in the mine is the cathedral. Each Sunday, approximately 400 people attend mass here.
I must constantly remind myself that these sculpturesare totally made of salt! There are a few sculptures that have been done by artists and might be made of wood, but most of the sculptures are totally salt Crystal. Most work was done by miners themselves, after their eight hour shift, and they remained in the salt mine to create sculptures.
The timbers that were used 500 years ago to create stability and the structure of the mine were made of pine. Over the centuries the pine wood has now absorbed salt and is petrified. When we touched these ancient wooden beams they were truly and totally now made of stone. Therefore, the safety and thesecurity of the salt mines is insured. Our guide also told us that there have been no accidents here in over 100 years, and to insure that this record remains, the tourist areas are all inspected three times a day for safety.
Although a bit touristy, I wouldn’t want to have missed this amazing spot. The Salt mines produced an important and substantial amount of income historically, and today the salt mines continue to produce tourist revenue for Kraków .
Here is Mike taking a turn at one of the pulleys that has been re-created.