Kopalnia soli Wieliczka is a spectacular salt mine in Poland, with a history going back to neolithic times.
Its cultivation as a salt mine really took off in the middle ages and was an economical source of salt up to this century.
In present times the salt mine is host to many tourist events including overnight stays, spas, museum tours and live concerts.
It’s surprisingly comfortable 135 meters below the earth’s surface in Wieliczka. I could feel the salt as I breathed in the air. I wondered at the hard work of 16th-century miners and methane igniters as I touched the walls. Fresh air and WiFi is piped in.
Massive pillars buttress the ceilings to stave off collapse of the salt mine. Logs compress under the weight of a city above the mines.
In its early history miners followed the salt. Cave maps show an exploration pattern similar to those of ant and termite colonies. As I studied the mapping levels through the ages, I could see the science and math directing excavations.
The deepest layer is seven levels. Many areas are blocked off from access for safety. When staying overnight, the sleeping areas are also locked off. Wandering lost, as with the catacombs of Paris, could result in death.
Miners spent a lifetime working under the earth, lowered in by rope and a song in the early days. Modern amenities make this an easy journey through corriders millions of years old.