SALINE WIELICZKA – A MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND WORLD
About Salt Wieliczka – Salt, sometimes called „White Gold”, has always been highly appreciated. Archaeological research indicates that people have searched for and extracted at least for several thousand years.
HOW WAS SALT FROM THE WIELICZKA SALT DISCOVERED?
According to the legend, the Hungarian princess Kinga, who later married Prince Boleslaw IV, received a salt mine from her father. She threw her engagement ring in it, and the ring traveled miraculously to Wieliczka.
When the king’s servants started looking for the ring, they found these underground salt deposits. Truth is probably more prosaic. Prior to discovering the underground salt deposits, the salt was obtained by evaporating the water from the salt springs.
While digging salt water fountains, workers have probably found the salt at a lower depth.
- Date of establishment – 13th century
- Location – about 15 km from Krakow
- Overall length of the galleries – about 300 km
- Number of Halls – 2040
- Number of wells – 9
- Depth of wells – up to 327 m
A GREAT MEDIEVAL BUSINESS
Since the XIV century, salines in the Krakow region have become a huge business, bringing large profits to the royal house. It is estimated that during this period, mines, and especially Wieliczka, generated one third of the state’s revenues.
Profitable salt trade was sufficient to meet all the financial needs of the royal court and, in addition, to cover maintenance costs for dozens of fortified cities.
Interestingly, the Academy of Krakow (now Jagiellona University) was funded by Cazimir the Great even with the money earned from the sale of jump. In the sec.XVI Wieliczka mine became one of the largest companies in Europe.
Besides the miners, many other workers were employed, thus ensuring the good running of the huge exploitation. Mina even provided a rudimentary facility for social care and medical care.
Did you know?
The air in the mine is characterized by an extremely rich diversity of microelements, a high level of humidity, bacteriological purity and the absence of pollution agents. Both unique microclimate and salt water have medical properties.
This was used in the 19th century and led to the establishment of a health center in Wieliczka.
Now, the mine hosts a medical and rehabilitation center, which, by applying modern methods combined with the beneficial properties of microclimate, treats respiratory diseases.
THE LETHAL METHANE GAS
A natural process in underground mines is mixing the air with methane gas released from the rocks. In certain proportions, the mixture may have explosive properties. In the past, these phenomena were not explained and, in order to make things worse, the miners used torches for illumination purposes.
It is not hard to imagine that fatal accidents often occur. In an attempt to prevent such accidents, specially trained miners dressed in damp cloths dabbled down with their torches burning the methane gas gathered in the upper sections. Of course, it was extremely dangerous work.
STILL FULL OF LIFE
Salt extraction was stopped in 196, but the Wieliczka mine is still full of life.Besides thousands of visitors, it hosts about 300 events annually, including conferences, balls, receptions and concerts.
The Mina has areas suitable for special occasions, as well as excellent catering facilities, being a truly unique place.
Did you know?
The Wieliczka Salt Mine illustrates all the stages of technology development in the Middle Ages and the Middle Ages. XX.
It is the only mine in the world that has worked for 700 years.
UNDER AUSTRIAN DOMINATION
After the first division of Poland, the Wieliczka salt mine was taken over by the Austrians. The new administration has modernized it, which has led to increased productivity and higher profits.
The Austrians introduced many technological innovations in mining, the most important being gunpowder, pmneumatic drilling, self-transport, a steam engine and a salt mill.
A power plant was built near the mine, the first tourist route opened with many attractions, and the first guide for visitors was published.
A PATRIOTIC SYMBOL
In Poland, the mine became a national symbol for the Poles, proving the former power of the country. Her visit was considered a patriotic gesture.
A system of Halls of different sizes and shapes, galleries and wells form a fantastic underground landscape resulting from the extraction of about 7.5 million cubic meters of salt. You can see exhibits of tools, equipment, technical structures and relics related to salt extraction.
There are chapels digging into salt, statues, sculptures and other works of art.Various forms of stalactites, stalagmites and salt crystals contribute to the beauty of this place. All this gives the mine scientific, historical and artistic value.
SALT PRODUCTION IN THE WORLD
The United States and China, alongside Canada and Germany, are the largest salt producers. The largest saline in the world is in Ontario, Canada and Namak Koh in Punjab, Pakistan.
The raw salt can be obtained by spelling the salt with water and extracting the brine or by digging the solid salt (dry method)
HOW HAVE SALT DEPOSITS BEEN FORMED IN SALINA WIELICZKA?
About 15 million years ago, the Podkarpacie region was covered with warm salty waters.
The warm climate favored the rapid evaporation of water from lagoons and small bays, and the salt in the water began to deposit. While the Carpathians appeared in the south, the area with salt deposits was also affected by the mountains’ formation movements.
Due to intense tectonic processes, deposits have a complex geological structure.
5 FASCINATING THINGS FROM SALINA WIELICZKA
- Wieliczka is the most visited mine, with over 1 million visitors annually.
- Mina has the world’s only underground restaurant located 125 m underground. There are souvenir shops, a post office, a photo lab and a kiosk with internet access.
- The largest open-air auditorium has an area of 1000 square meters and is tall to accommodate an 8-storey building.
- The air temperature in the salt is constant: – 14 degrees C all year.
- The mine contains lakes with salt water up to 9 m deep. One liter of water contains about 320 grams of salt.