Friday, 20 January 2012

Going deeper underground

This is Danny descending the wooden staircase down 54 floors into the Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow last week. Luckily there was a lift to take us back above ground, although that was quite an experience in itself because they insisted on squeezing 9 of us into a space that appeared made for no more than two. Below, Dan and Mary wait in the cold for the bus to the mine.

The mine is like nothing I've ever seen before - we went 135 metres underground but only saw one percent of the mine. But what a percent! There were sculptures, underground lakes, huge chapels and amazing salt chandeliers, all made by the miners in their spare time over the last few hundred years, and the mine has been in continuous use since the 13th Century.

This is the mind-boggling St Kinga's Chapel which is carved entirely out of salt including the floor tiles and crystals in the chandeliers. Like most visitors I licked the wall, just to check. And yes, it tasted of salt funnily enough. Most amazing of all is that this chapel and all of its sculptures were carved by three men, working one after the other. That's dedication.

The salt looks almost like granite most of the time but the light behind the statue below shows how clear it actually is. This was one of the most interesting places I've ever been and it helped that our guide Sebastian had us in fits of laughter the whole time.

Now if only I could have fit one of those chandeliers in my hand luggage.

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