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Published: September 10th 2019
Today was another early morning to go on the Salt Mine tour just out of Krakow. It was wet again but fined up early afternoon.
These salt mines first started in the 13 Century when salt was scarce and expensive. But at the same time was needed to preserve certain foods. The tour only covers 1% of the mines(about 3km) and it is underground throughout the size of the town of Wieliczka. In fact you pop up in the centre of the town at the end of the tour.
The 1% is huge as you slowly descend on foot (over 400 steps) 135 metres below ground. The walls around you and the floor below you is all salt in most of the mine.
The miners worked an 8 hour day and certainly not in the conditions we experienced. Their steps were perilous. Horses also permanently lived down there as working horses. The Polish are proud to emphasise... no slaves, no children and no woman worked there.
The ‘mine’ today has beautiful sculptures and chandeliers all made by the miners in their spare time, several chapels, a large church and a very large function room. People can rent
them out for use. It is government run.
It’s history is amazing and a must do if you ever come to Krakow. But be warned it requires some effort. Thankfully a lift brings you back to the top in 40 secs.
It’s mind blowing to think you are walking through what was a working mine in the 13C and it only ceased functioning as a mine in the early 20th Century.
Then it was back to the square for lunch followed by a horse drawn carriage ride which was not long before the rain came down as predicted at 3:20pm.
Before this I managed a final amble around my little neighbourhood near my hotel. I came across one last church and convent up a side street. Stunningly beautiful.
And now a snack for tea after a full lunch, repack ready to go early tomorrow.
You will notice I haven’t mentioned Auschwitz-Birkenau. I did a private ride (for 2 reasons- time limitations and a desire for a more reflective experience) as I feel quite strongly about those atrocities from one human to others (and to go through somewhere like Auschwitz-Birkenau with 60 people didn’t excite
me. I wanted a personal, reflective experience. It was sobering and upsetting. I also took no pictures in respect. Those sallow faces of both adults and children will be forever etched in my memory.
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