The name of Wieliczka is synonymous with the salt mine for many tourists. It is here that one of the most famous Polish attractions in the world is located, the historic Wieliczka Salt Mine, which, together with the Saltworks Castle, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The beginnings of salt extraction in Wieliczka date back to the 9th century. Until the 13th-14th centuries, the primary method of its extraction was the evaporation of brines. However, when as a result of intensive exploitation, the sources began to run out, excavation of underground galleries and rock salt mining began.
For centuries, the Krakow saltworks and the local salt mines were one of the main sources of income for the royal treasury, and Wieliczka was one of the wealthy cities that attracted new residents. Currently, salt extraction is carried out only in part of the mine, and its historic part is entirely open to tourist purposes.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine together with the underground Museum of Krakow Saltworks and the Saltworks Castle are on the UNESCO list. There are several dozen chambers and galleries open to the public, in which you can admire salt sculptures and old mine equipment. In addition to the traditional tourist route, there are also thematic routes and an adventure route, the overcoming of which involves playing the role of a miner. Sightseeing takes place in the company of guides.
On the basis of the Wieliczka mine, there is also an underground health resort that uses the local microclimate and brine waters. Its part is a saline graduation tower built at the beginning of the 21st century, supporting the treatment of upper respiratory tract diseases.
In addition to the main attraction of Wieliczka, which is the mine, you can also visit historic churches, the church of St. Clement and the Church of St. Sebastian and the historic center with the Upper Market Square. On its plate there is a three-dimensional painting depicting the interior of the mine.