A Salty Visit Indeed!
I visited this WHS in September 2014. It is very close to Krakow which is really a WHS hotspot and perhaps it is one of Poland’s most famous WHS and/or tourist attractions. It was interesting to learn that in the past other “tourists” such as Goethe and Copernicus had visited the Wieliczka mine (even though most of what they visited is actually out of bounds due to safety restrictions). In fact what is now known as the Individual Tourist Route represents only around 1% of the Wieliczka salt mine! This is pretty impressive considering that its a 3 hour tour along a 2km trail which takes you down to a depth of 150 metres. The tour itself is quite interesting touching upon different aspects of salt production and giving some insight on other trivial stuff. Even though you’re obliged to visit with a group, the place is really huge and nowhere near the claustrophobic size of other mines I’ve visited such as the Idrija Mine in Slovenia. The highlight of my visit was definitely the Underground Salt Chapel of St. Kinga and the intricate salt carvings and sculptures. I felt that some parts of the mine were quite kitsch to say the least but on the whole this salt mine really has an OUV and is worth seeing. One negative note was the mine exit though: the only way out seemed to be a very narrow and dark lift carrying at least 10 people when its original purpose seemed to be that of carrying tools or equipment NOT people! Not the best solution for anyone suffering from claustrophobia or anxiety! Although I’m glad I visited this mine and the Bochnia mine (smaller and less crowded but less impressive), I very much preferred visiting other salt related industrial WHS on the list such as the Saltworks in France.
Wieliczka Salt Mine – Poland