Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the Old Salt Mines


It's been quite a month for racking up World Heritage Sites.  A few weeks ago, I visited the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and the Aztec Ruins -- which is actually a Pueblo ruin, but never mind that.  Here in Poland, we've seen Krakow Historic Center, Warsaw Historic Center, and -- just now --the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Wieliczka Salt Mine gets over a million visitors a year.  Its first shaft was sunk in the 13th century, and it was in continuous operation until mining ceased in 2007. (They still pump out brine and produce salt by evaporation, in part because the water must be removed to make tourism viable anyway.). The hours-long tour takes the curious down two levels, out of nine, takes in several remarkable caverns that are artifacts of mining, along with a few pretty cheesy attractions, culminating in the astonishing chapel which miners dug out the salt and decorated largely with their own carvings.

Copernicus visited the mine, as did Goethe.  And now so have (among, as I said, over a million others a year) I.


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