Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weird Wednesday ~ Polish Salt Mine Cathedral

This deposit of rock salt in Wieliczka-Bochnia has been mined since the 13th century. Spread over nine levels, it has 186 miles (300 km) of galleries with works of art, altars, and statues sculpted in the salt, making a fascinating pilgrimage into the past of a major industrial undertaking.

The salt mine in Wieliczka is a unique development in the history of mining, because the rock salt deposits were mined without interruption from the 13th to the end of the 20th centuries. 

The scale of excavation in this mine is very large, with corridors, galleries, and chambers, as well as underground lakes, totalling more than 124 miles (200km) in length on seven levels between 35 miles (57m) and 123 miles (198m) below ground. The largest collection of original tools and mining equipment illustrating the development of mining technology from the Middle Ages to modern times has been preserved here.

Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to twenty thousand inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local Duke to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it did just that but the generations of miners did more than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray.

 The Wieliczka-Bochnia is a United Nations World Heritage Site.

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Debra She Who Seeks said...

Fascinating! It would be so neat to tour this mine. I've never been in a salt mine but in Italy we toured a marble mine inside a mountain in Carrera.

Robin Larkspur said...

In this case, the expression "back to the salt mines" is not a bad thing. How beautiful!!

mrsduncanmahogany said...

I am at a loss for words, how very beautiful!!!