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Salt Mine in Wieliczka is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Poland, annually visited by over a million of people.

Salt resources in that region are the result of a fading sea of a high salinity level 14 millions years ago. The exploitation was begun over 3 thousand years B. C. with drying the salt spring, coming out of the ground. Between the XII and XIII century, the salt spring stopped flowing on its own, so a mine was created, and then first mine-shafts were dug out.

The exploitation lasted consequently until 1996. Before that, in 1976 the mine was listed in state heritage, and in 1978 as UNESCO heritage.

The Underground Tourist Trail in the salt mine was created between XVIII and XIX century. Tourists visiting the mine walk for about 3 km, through 20 chambers located at depths from 64 to 135 meters underground (levels I-III). A part of the trail is wheel chair friendly. The tour lasts 2-3 hours.

The most representative place is the St. Kinga Chapel, which has the perfect acoustics. Concerts of national and international stars take place there. The highest excavation tourists can reach is Stanisław Staszic Chamber. Its hight is 36 meters, and was the place of the world’s first hot air balloon ride. Here, also a true bungee jump happened.

During king Kazimierz the Great times, the incomes from the mine and salt sales were a great financial pump for the whole country. They covered 1/3 of the state treasury income.

 

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