The SaltMines of Crakow is surely a sight not to be missed. It may sound a bit strange to visit a mine but it is certainly worth the effort. Getting there can be a challenge but all of the tourist bureaus can arrange it for you.
We did, however act upon an advice given to us before we left home. The evening before we were going there we just approached one of Cracow’s taxi drivers, found one who could speak English and negotiated a nice price with him.He charged us 60 Euros for the whole day. In addition, we bought him lunch but that was just because we wanted to.The next morning he showed up outside our dwellings at the set time and we were off to the saltmines.
The entrance to the saltmines is rather inconspicuous and inside we started the decent down a staircase that seemed to lead to the center of the earth. Down and down we went. Finally, after ten minutes or so we were at the bottom.
The saltmines are deep, deep below ground!
The sights down there were incredible, whole cathedrals had been carved in salt and not by artists but by the workers themselves. The most impressive one was the cathedral of St. Kinga, the patron saint of the miners. It is huge, really huge and everything is made of salt; the stairways, the ornaments and even the chandeliers!
Beware, however, that you are only allowed to move around the mines in guided groups as most of the mineshafts are closed to the public and there are numerous stories about tourists getting lost strolling around alone. One actually tells of a party that was lost in the 19th century and was never found again. The saltmines have taken their toll!
There is even a lake there, complete with a small boat. It is also said to be a very healthy place to be as the air is filled with salt and minerals. The guide told us that the horses that were used down there lived their whole lives without ever seeing daylight but still outlived their cousins who lived outside by many years. When we were there we also met groups of polish children with breathing difficulties who had been ordered down there as part of their treatment. So oddly enough, it is almost like a spa?
The salt reserves had all been exploited and the mine was no longer operating but has been pronounced a world heritage site by UNESCO and was surely one of the highlights of our trip. Just seeing the salt bubbling out of the walls, looking like cauliflower was amazing.
This place is highly recommended. Read more about the mines at their website HERE. So once more; The saltmines are definitely worth a day of your visit to Cracow
Outside our stout driver were waiting for us to take us to see other peculiar sights of the area.
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