Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Salt Mines

So we're back in Poland (I mean Poland pictures, not that I'm physically in Poland again) for salt mine photos.  Lee and I signed up for a tour that picked us up in Krakow and took us out to the mine, where we had a guided tour underground.  What is it with us and underground stuff?  We've been to the Parisian catacombs, an underground tour in Edinburgh and one in Rome, and we did another underground museum in Krakow.  That's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

The sign at the entrance to the mine, kind of fun.  We had to wait for a few minutes before our tour group descended into the mine; it started with 378 stairs down.  You'd go down 7 stairs, turn, 7 more stairs, lather-rinse-repeat and I lost count so I cannot verify that there are, indeed, 378 stairs.

This mine produced rock salt, and at the beginning our guide told us that if you lick the walls, they do taste like salt.  The tour only goes over a tiny part of the mine; it's really, REALLY old and has about a gabillion miles of underground corridors.  We got to see a number of statues that were carved by salt miners/amateur sculptors.  They have to keep the humidity rigidly controlled because too much and it makes the statues disintegrate.  Some of the statues are pretty old.

So this picture looks like a confused jumble even if you click on it to see it larger.  You can see a bunch of white/light gray bits encrusting the walls; when water seeps through the rocks, it takes the salt with it so the walls are kinda sweating salt.

There's a really cool picture of a chandelier on the Wikipedia page (link at the top of the post) and now I'm kinda jealous we didn't get one that good.

There you can see the salt pretty well.  The mine doesn't produce salt commercially anymore, but they have to keep working the mine and doing certain things to make sure that it doesn't collapse (which could happen if a bunch of water goes through and dissolves the salt and makes the mine structurally unstable).  So it does still produce a little bit of salt.

They had a few...what would you call this, dioramas? to show how the salt was mined.

Personally I feel sorry for the horses who had to work down here.

Here's a statue of Polish king Kasimir or something close to that.  He's, like, a big deal in Poland.  (My Polish history is pretty lacking.)

Not the best picture but that's a whole lot of stairs leading yet further down.  The red cast kinda makes it look like the descent into hell, doesn't it?

But it's not.  In fact, here's an underground cathedral.  There are friezes (they are friezes, right?  Man, my art terms are rusty) on the walls all carved out of salt, and even the chandeliers are made with rock salt crystals.  They have weddings down here and everything.

There was another one that was the Last Supper but that photo didn't come out so great.

The space is quite large, you could have a good-size wedding down here.

Do you recognize these people?

So there's a statue of Mary lit up; the rock salt is kind of translucent.

Stuff to keep the mine from collapsing, and one more picture...

Can't take him anywhere.

Just kidding, I made sure he did this slow enough that I got a picture of him licking the walls!


CCsMom said...

Hmmm, seems like I remember something underground in Okinawa -- were the terra cotta soldiers in China underground? And of course, there was something in Texas that you visited with Lee before you were married, I think. Seems like I remember seeing photos of stalagtites? Yep, it does seem like you find those places UNDERGROUND to visit. Ha!

Funny photo of Lee at the end. And that chamber where the weddings are held -- fascinating! Fun post!

Thoughts by B and M said...

This was one of my favorite things in Poland! It's beautiful and amazing. We had lunch there in a private room and that was pretty cool, but the cathedral where they hold weddings was just incredible. All the stories that go along with the salt sculptures are pretty neat too! So glad you went to Poland!!!!

Vicki Burns said...

Super fun! I like the walls that were sweating salt. Did Lee actually lick the wall? Eeewwww. Does he know how many tongues have licked that wall before him? Blech!

And I agree with you: I feel sorry for the horses..