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Wordtravels

Wieliczka Salt Mine

The Salt Mine at Wieliczka is a unique underground complex that has been in continuous use since its construction in the Middle Ages, and is now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Monument. The series of labyrinthine tunnels, chambers, galleries and underground lakes are spread over nine levels and reach a depth of more than 1,000ft (304m), but visitors are restricted to a tour of three levels. Following winding passageways, hand-hewn between the 17th and 19th centuries, visitors are guided to magnificently carved chapels, past salt sculptures created by previous mine workers and through huge crystalline caverns. Among the chambers is the oldest creation in the mine, the 17th-century solid salt Chapel of St Anthony. The highlight of the tour is the Blessed Kinga Chapel, dedicated to the patron saint of Polish mine workers. Everything in this huge, ornate chapel is carved from salt, including the altar and chandeliers, and the walls are covered in beautiful sculptured pictures. A dark, clanking lift whisks visitors back to the surface at the end of the guided tour. The world's first subterranean therapeutic sanatorium is situated 656ft (200m) below the surface, and makes use of the saline air for the treatment of asthma. There is also a Salt-Works Museum that documents the history of the mine and the local geological formation, with primitive mining tools and machines on display.

Address: Ul. Danilowicza 10, Wieliczka

E-mail: turystyka@kopalnia.pl

Website: www.kopalnia.pl

Telephone: (12) 278 7302

Transport: Buses and minibuses leave from outside the train station; or else there is the local Krakow-Wieliczka train

Opening times: Open daily from 7.30am to 7.30pm (April to October), and 8am to 5pm (November to March). Closed on major holidays

Admission: 48 PLN, with concessions available. Guided tours only. A 10 PLN fee is charged for taking photos and filming