Down down in the salt mine underneath the ground
August 16, 2007 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland has been in operation for 800-odd years. Needless to say, this has given the miners plenty of time to carve some pretty amazing things. More photos here and here. Videos here and here. Virtual tour here. Wikipedia.
posted by dersins (36 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is where they send slugs who have been very very bad.
posted by gwint at 10:28 AM on August 16, 2007 [3 favorites]

Seriously though, this is amazing. Reminds me a little of Petra.
posted by gwint at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2007

This is where they send slugs who have been very very bad.

Nicely done.

A while back, I read a novel called The Winter Zoo, in which the young Midwestern protagonist drops out and wanders to Krakow, where he later seduces his cousin's friend in an eerily beautiful room of an underground salt mine, carved to look like a baroque altar.

I knew the author had lived in Poland and maybe the Czech Republic for a time, but still assumed the salt mine setting was totally fictional. Clearly, it's not. Thanks for the link.

(Sorry I doubted you, Beckman!)
posted by pineapple at 10:36 AM on August 16, 2007

posted by The Straightener at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2007

Superawesome. Thanks, dersins!
posted by jonson at 11:05 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid I had a book that contained hundreds of pages of multi-paragraph descriptions of interesting places all around the planet (sort of a portable geographical Wikipedia for kids in the 80s). The Wieliczka salt mines really stuck with me from that book and years later when I was traveling through Europe, I made damn sure to get my ass to Poland and see them.

Long story short: I did. And they were awesome.
posted by barnacles at 11:06 AM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

... and because I've never before had a reason to use this photo:

I Love Wieliczka
posted by barnacles at 11:18 AM on August 16, 2007

posted by dersins at 11:19 AM on August 16, 2007

Fortunately, we got this handy-dandy pronunciation guide today.
posted by MtDewd at 11:22 AM on August 16, 2007

One deer could ruin everything...eventually.

(Excellent post!)
posted by SteelyDuran at 11:36 AM on August 16, 2007

Walking barefoot in the mine made my feet all salty.

Take your shoes off if you go to the mine. It's a bit slippery, like walking on ice. Then after a while your feet goes all tingly.
posted by uandt at 11:49 AM on August 16, 2007

awesome! thanks.
posted by taliaferro at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2007

I had always thought salt mines were intensely unpleasant places, you know, 'sending someone to the saltmines', with unpleasant air and dry and itcy skin and things like that but it can't be that bad if people felt it worth their while to carve all those things while down there.
posted by Catfry at 12:09 PM on August 16, 2007

This is SO cool - my only previous experience with salt mines came via Miss Bianca, (scroll down, para 15)and that place didn't seem anywhere near as wonderful, even though it did have carvings.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:11 PM on August 16, 2007

I visited the mine five years ago after reading about it in a Let's Go book. The pictures just don't do it justice. It's an amazing, amazing place, and the visitor facilities and organization are top-notch.
posted by letitrain at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2007

WOW. Those pictures are amazing! What a great post, dersins. I didn't get to go to the mines when I visited Krakow, but now that I've seen these pictures, I will definitely make a point of visiting Wieliczka on the next trip to Poland.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2007

I've been there. It's maybe the coolest place I've ever been.
posted by rbs at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2007

I visited in 2000 and it was truly amazing. We were told that the entire cathedral was made primarily by 3 men over the course of 200 years. Other faves include the Copernicus statue to commemorate his trip there to perform experiments.

I was there with a group of foreign university students being toured around by Polish students. As we were getting ready to leave, there was an announcement over the PA and all the Polish folks started looking a little concerned. Turns out the only elevator in the mine had just broken. We ended up spending an extra few hours down there, but it was worth it for the elevator ride.
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:27 PM on August 16, 2007

btw- there's some better pics on flickr
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2007

'sending someone to the saltmines'

Part of that may have been that these things are so huge that the donkeys that worked them lived their whole lives in the mine, I suppose that could be somewhat true of the miners, too.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:07 PM on August 16, 2007

The pictures don't quite do the scale of the place justice - it's like you'd imagine the Mines of Moria to be - and as our guide took great pains to stress, was all carved by men "using only their muscles".

There's a very life like statue of Karol Wojtyla otherwise known as Pope John Paul II, who lived in Krakow for 40 years before becoming Pope. Much of the carving is alters, which gives some idea of the peril the miners felt they were in.

If you do go, lick the walls - it's a bizarre feeling.
posted by dabhaid at 1:48 PM on August 16, 2007

i really want to go there.
posted by snofoam at 2:17 PM on August 16, 2007

I also went in 2000, again, these pictures, zey do nuffink. It's enormous, and just mind-blowingly intricate. Well worth a visit.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:55 PM on August 16, 2007

Wow, this is great. Thanks, dersins.
posted by homunculus at 3:07 PM on August 16, 2007

We should bring back the Post Of The Day competition, then retroactively award an iphone to Dersins for this.

posted by Sk4n at 3:20 PM on August 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm on board with that plan.
posted by dersins at 3:30 PM on August 16, 2007

AWEsome, dersins, thanks for posting this.
posted by The Deej at 3:41 PM on August 16, 2007

Is it wrong that this turns me on?
posted by humannaire at 7:53 PM on August 16, 2007

I was there, and thought it sucked. The babushka tour guide droned on and on, oring as hell, and the wait for an elevator to the surface was interminable. Maybe it has improved since the early '90s, though.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:43 PM on August 16, 2007

oring and boring.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:43 PM on August 16, 2007

800 years eh? Seems more stable than American mining operations......
posted by ilsa at 10:41 PM on August 16, 2007

Incredible. Amazing post. Never imagined salt mines or salt miner creativity. Will look at my box of Morton salt differently now.
posted by nickyskye at 10:18 AM on August 17, 2007

Everything you've been posting lately is awesome, dersins.
posted by jessamyn at 4:20 PM on August 17, 2007

Thanks. I decided that I maybe needed to contribute more to the site than just some bitchy metatalk comments.
posted by dersins at 4:30 PM on August 17, 2007

Oh, but please don't stop those!
posted by The Deej at 5:11 PM on August 17, 2007

i'm going there next week so cheers for a great post.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:49 AM on August 18, 2007

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