Wieliczka Salt Mine (Wieliczka, Poland)

The salt mine’s Chapel of St. Kinga features chandeliers made of salt.

Wieliczka Salt Mine (Wieliczka, Poland)

Miners at Wieliczka carved its rock salt deposits without interruption from the 13th century until the 1990s. Over the centuries, workers slowly turned the seven-level subterranean mine into a majestic salt city replete with life-size rock salt sculptures of saints, biblical wall reliefs, and tableaus depicting their daily lives.

In the early 1900s, the workers undertook their most ambitious project: an underground church named after Kinga, the patron saint of salt miners. The 331-foot-deep (101 m) St. Kinga’s Chapel features a sculpture of Christ on the cross, depictions of scenes from the New Testament, a wall relief of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and two altars. All are carved from salt. Hanging from the ceiling are five chandeliers that miners crafted by dissolving salt, removing its impurities, and reconstituting it into crystals as clear as glass.

Another memorable sight on the tour is the placid subterranean lake in the Józef Piłsudski Chamber, softly lit and overseen by a statue of Saint John Nepomucene—the patron saint of drowning. Take a moment of reflection before you bundle into a small, dark miners’ cage with five other people for the long ascent back to the surface.

Source: Atlas Obscura

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