World Heritage Site
If you are travelling to Krakow for dental treatment and have some time for tourism, then a visit to Wieliczka Salt Mine is highly recommended.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Krakow metropolitan area. The mine continuously produced table salt from the 13th century until 2007 as one of the world’s oldest operating salt mines.
The mine’s attractions for tourists include dozens of statues and an entire chapel that have been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. About 1.2 million persons visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.
Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding.
The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 meters and is over 300 km long. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors (less than 1% of the length of the mine’s passages) that includes historic statues and mythical figures.
Wieliczka Salt Mine Sculptures
The oldest sculptures were carved out of rock salt by miners; more recent figures have been fashioned by contemporary artists. Even the crystals of the chandeliers are made from rock salt that has been dissolved and reconstituted to achieve a clear, glass-like appearance. The rock salt is naturally grey in various shades, so that the carvings resemble unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors expect. The carvings may appear white in the photos, but the actual carved figures are not white.
At the end of the tour, there is a large cathedral and reception room that can be reserved for private functions such as weddings or private parties. Also featured is a large chamber with walls carved to resemble wooden chapels built by miners in earlier centuries; an underground lake; and exhibits on the history of salt mining. The Wieliczka mine is often referred to as “the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” It also houses a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.
To get down to the 64-metre level of the mine, visitors must descend a wooden stairway of 378 steps. After the three-kilometer tour of the mine’s corridors, chapels, statues and lake, 135 metres underground, visitors take an elevator back up to the surface. The elevator holds 36 persons (nine per car) and takes some 30 seconds to reach the surface.
In 1978 the Wieliczka salt mine was placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites.
Getting to the Wieliczka Salt Mines from Krakow shouldn’t prove too difficult or expensive. Regular buses run from the top of Starowislna Street opposite the Main Post Office, taking around forty minutes to get there. Be warned that buses are a little cramped and we advise you check departure details at one of Krakow’s tourist information offices as these routes chop and change quite a bit. You’re best asking a friendly Pole where to get off too, as this is a public bus not a tourist service.
Dental tourism in Krakow
Krakow is the most popular tourist destination in Poland and this supports a lot of the local economy. Kraków Airport (also known as John Paul II International Airport) is the main airport, located in Balice, about 12 km to the west of the centre. It is the second biggest airport in Poland. Krakow has many excellent dental clinics and dentists and is a very popular dental tourism destination – more information