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April 2, 2015 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow

KRAKOW TOURS: Deep underground in Poland lies something remarkable but little known outside Eastern Europe. For centuries, miners have extracted salt there, but left behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the most unusual salt mine in the world.

From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn’t look extraordinary. It looks extremely well kept for a place that hasn’t minded any salt for over ten years but apart from that it looks ordinary. However, over two hundred meters below ground it holds an astonishing secret. This is the salt mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground lake.

Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to twenty thousand inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local Duke to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it did just that but the generations of miners did more than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray. Perhaps their most astonishing legacy is the huge underground cathedral they left behind for posterity.

via Wieliczka Salt Mine – An Astounding Subterranean Salt Cathedral ~ Kuriositas.

March 1, 2013 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , | Leave a comment

1.1 Million visitors to Wieliczka salt mine in 2012

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One million and 117 thousand tourists toured the site, five per cent more than in 2011.

Foreign tourists accounted for 53 per cent of visitors.

The British top the list (60. 9 thousand, 12 per cent more than in 2011), followed by Italians (42.4 thousand, an increase of 17 per cent) and Germans (38.5 thousand, an increase of 4 per cent). French, Korean, Russian, Norwegian, Spanish, American and Hungarian visitors were the remaining nations in the top ten.

Director of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Kajetan d’Obyrn, has told the Polish Press Agency that with an annual number of visitors exceeding one million and almost 36 million visitors since the end of World War Two, Wieliczka is by far the most popular sightseeing attraction of its kind in the world.

Last year’s visitors also included almost 1,000 journalists and reporters from many countries. The mine served as location for a Bollywood production, Discovery Channel produced a programme on underground chapels and Canadian TV made a report in its series on the most bizarre restaurants.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the middle of the 13th century. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors that includes historic statues and mythical figures. There are also a large chapel, an underground lake, as well as a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.

In 1978 the Wieliczka Mine was included in the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

January 12, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wieliczka Salt Mine, Health Resort

wieliczka salt mine

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort has signed an agreement with the National Health Service, Malopolska region, for health resort ambulatory care treatment services offered to persons with upper and lower respiratory system ailments and allergies. The next visiting period begins 4th February 2013.

Ambulatory treatment usually last 18 days and includes both days and night stays in the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort. During the stay the patient takes treatments according to the prepared program which is implemented in the comfortable and well fitted Eastern Mountain’ Stable Chamber.

The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort is the first in Poland underground health resort in which patients can take advantage of subterraneotherapy. This is an innovative method for treating respiratory system ailments developed by Professor Mieczyslaw Skulimowski in the 1950s.

This method is based on subjecting patients to physical, chemical and biological stimuli existing only underground. The constant temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, the movement and ionization of the air form a unique climate which relieves symptoms of many diseases. The air is saturated with sodium chloride and free of bacteria, viruses and pollutions.

Contact: “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Health Resort
Park Kingi 1 bldg. I, 32-020 Wieliczka
Phone: +48 12 278 73 68
Fax: +48 12 288 27 73
E-mail: sanatorium@kopalnia.pl

Other salt mine blog posts

January 11, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wieliczka Salt Mine

A Fantastic Christmas Card from The Wieliczka Salt Mine

December 20, 2012 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice | , , , | Leave a comment

KRAKOW TOURS: 1000th guests – 18th June 2011

Krakow Tours 1000

June 19, 2011 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

This review of KRAKOW TOURS was posted on Tripadvisor recently.

“Outstanding experience from 8am to 8pm!!”

“I have been involved in the travel business worldwide for 25 years, so i feel i know a thing or two about ground handlers and local tour operators. I came across Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk on tripadvisor, I was most impressed by the various personalised comments and reviews of his Auschwitz and salt mines tours. My wife Alma and I were fully aware of the harrowing experience which lay ahead on our visit to Auschwitz. I was worried as we were due to visit two camps and the salt mines all in the one day, however Phil has the winning formula!!

Phils tour operation is run on a personal one to one basis. He takes six clients per day in his wonderful converted American style mini-bus, which is a pleasurable experience in itself. He also provides a lovely picnic lunch for all of his clients. Reviews on other tour operators show that accessing these sites/camps can be a drawn out and painstaking process, however with Phils operation there is no such issues, your straight in. It is a most difficult day, but i feel that Phil has got it just right. By taking in the brilliant and dramatic salt mines at the end of the afternoon, it helps dramaticaly to relieve the pain and anguish of the previous hours. It is my personal belief that everybody should visit these historical sites at some stage in there lives. I cannot recommend a better person, with a more caring and knowledgable personality than Phil Clark of krakowtours.co.uk.”

Eamon and Alma Duffy
Drogheda
Ireland

Many thanks to Eamon and Alma for this tremendous review of our tour.

View more reviews HERE on Tripadvisor, the worlds #1 travel website.

January 16, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1 Millionth visitor to Wieliczka salt mine

KRAKOW TOURS – The number of visitors to the historic salt mine in Wieliczka near Kraków has topped the one million mark.

On the penultimate day of 2010,  Ms Urszula Szczęsnowicz, who came to the site with her family from Mława, north of Warsaw, was greeted as the one millionth visitor by the Director of the Salt Mine Kajetan d’Obyr.

She was given a red-carpet treatment, taken on a special tour of the place, presented with gifts and asked to put her signature in the Visitors Book, alongside such celebrities as Fryderyk Chopin, Duke  Edward Windsor and the King of the Belgians Albert II.

2010 saw a three percent increase in the number of visitors to Wieliczka. Foreigners account for 52 percent of visitors. The British top the list (56.900), followed by Germans (39.300), Italians (36. 500), French (32.500) and Koreans (31. 600).

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the middle of the 13th century. It features a 3.5-km touring route for visitors that includes historic statues and mythical figures. There are also a large chapel, an underground lake, as well as a private rehabilitation and wellness complex.

In 1978 the Wieliczka Mine was included in the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

January 1, 2011 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Early start to Christmas eve in the Salt Mine.

KRAKOW TOURS – Christmas Eve celebrations have already started in the Wieliczka salt mine, near Krakow, where carols sung by the miners and their families echoed from the St. Kinga chapel, 200 meters below ground level.

The special Christmas mass began at 7 am this morning.

This underground sanctuary and its salt sculptures had been created in the 18th century.

The first midnight mass was said on Christmas Eve 1865.

The tradition had been interrupted after World War Two when the communist authorities banned the celebrations giving safety precautions as a reason and were resumed in the late 1980’s.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Events, Krakow Travel Advice, Tour Information | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Krakow Tours – #1 attraction in Krakow (TripAdvisor)

For the time being KRAKOW TOURS are ranked as the NUMBER ONE of 54 attractions or ‘Things To Do‘ in Krakow.

Also ranked NUMBER ONE in Southern Poland.

Thanks to all our guests for submitting such great reviews.

November 2, 2010 Posted by | News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

250th Customers for Krakow Tours

KRAKOW TOURS – Karen Fuller and friends from Toronto, Canada were Krakow Tours 250th customers. A bottle of bubbly to celebrate after their Auschwitz and Salt mine tour – 15th Oct 2010.

October 16, 2010 Posted by | Events, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Krakowtours.co.uk video

KRAKOW TOURS

September 18, 2010 Posted by | Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fire at former Nazi Death Camp

KRAKOW TOURS – Majdanek, a former Nazi concentration camp located near Lublin in eastern Poland, caught fire Monday night, destroying many of the wooden structures and as many as 10,000 pairs of shoes belong to victims who died at the camp, officials said Tuesday.

The fire started in one of the L-shaped barracks and was noticed by a security guard when he saw smoke coming from the structure as he was making his rounds. The fire department was called promptly but the wooden camp did not have much of a chance. Sixteen fire brigades came to the rescue, numbering 48 firefighters, but it took seven hours to contain the fire, which spread quickly and furiously over the camp.

The source of the fire, which brought an estimated one million złoty in damages, is yet unknown and, although speculations of faulty wiring and premeditated arson have not yet been completely eliminated, they seem unlikely to have been the cause.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Niepolomice Castle, and the stolen Wawel Chakra.

Krakow Tours to Niepolomice and the castle.

KRAKOW TOURS – Commonly known throughout history as the ‘Second Wawel,’ it shouldn’t come as surprise that the Royal Castle in Niepołomice shares (steals?) a bit of lore from the more famous royal residence in Kraków.

No there’s no tale of a dragon (though you’d think with all the dark, spooky woods surrounding it they could at least cook up some kind of Grendel story), but Niepołomice does try to get some of the good vibes from one of Wawel’s more famous legends – that of the fabled chakra stone.

According to many eastern religious, spiritual and yogic traditions, a chakra (if you don’t know) is a specific point where the powerful network of energy connecting all living things can be felt the strongest. Apparently when the Hindu goddess Shiva sent seven sacred stones – corresponding with the seven natural chakra points on the body – hurtling across the earth, one just happened to end up on Wawel Hill in Kraków and has since become a hit with travellers seeking to channel its powers.

According to local legend, King Kazimierz the Great liked his Niepołomice retreat so much he brought a piece of the Wawel chakra stone here and buried it beneath the castle in one of its gothic cellars. Since all this Hindu mumbo-jumbo doesn’t jive with Wawel’s status as a Catholic spiritual centre, Wawel authorities have done everything possible to downplay the legend; however keen observors will notice a plaque in the courtyard of Niepołomice Castle vaguely identifying the place where Kazimierz His Greatness deposited the chakra chunk in 1340.

Tours to Niepolomice and the castle are available from Krakow Tours, why not combine it with your Wieliczka Salt Mine trip?

Extracted from Krakow In Your Pocket Guide Book, available here.

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Recommendations, Tour Information | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oswiecim, under the shadow of Auschwitz

KRAKOW TOURS – The small Polish town of Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German) has long felt that it suffered from association with the horror of the nearby Nazi death camp, but some residents hope the town can begin to be seen in a more positive light.

“You want a map of the town, not just the museum?”

The tourist information officer looked sceptical at first, then delighted. She rummaged in a drawer – clearly one she did not open that often – and pulled out a brochure.

There were, she ruefully admitted, very few visitors to this place interested in anything beyond the Auschwitz museum.

After I had made my own visit, I headed away from the crowds into the elegant old town centre. A modest cafe or two were open, old men sat in the tree-lined square feeding the birds, shoppers ambled around in a scene you would find in any small Polish town.

No signs in any foreign language, nowhere selling souvenirs.

While more than a million people arrive up the road at the museum every year, in the town centre there is no hint of it being a tourist destination.

Resentment

And this bizarre divide has caused considerable tension.

Although the museum provides some jobs for locals, others complain about costs incurred in providing, say, parking space for visitors who bring the town little in return.

There have been rows when planning permission for the museum’s expansion has been rejected by local authorities.

And resentment goes deeper than that.

Some people feel tainted by the terrible history looming over this place.

It is hard growing up somewhere the rest of the world sees as the symbol of evil.

Some visitors to Auschwitz make a point of shunning the town, not wishing to linger. They cannot understand, they say, how anyone could still live here.

Jewish past

The reaction from many local people has been to turn their backs on history.

All this was encouraged by Polish Communist rule, keen to suppress Jewish history in particular.

Oswiecim’s former synagogue was used in Communist times as a carpet warehouse, until a British academic, Jonathan Webber, discovered it in the 1980s.

As Judaism was then so taboo, he recalls, he had to pretend he was looking for an Armenian church.

He paid the warehouse workers a few dollars to carry away the stacks of carpets and reveal Hebrew inscriptions on the walls.

That former synagogue is now a Jewish centre.

On the staff is Artur Szyndler, who grew up in Oswiecim under Communism.

He told me that all the time he was at school, a mile or two from the Auschwitz site, he never once heard the word Holocaust.

But after the end of Communist rule, he studied Jewish history at university, as a growing number of young Poles now do.

Pointing to old maps on the walls of the centre, he explained how Oswiecim had had a Jewish majority before the war.

With its location at a well-connected meeting point of countries and peoples, it was known as a place of unusually good relations between faiths, and for tolerance of refugees.

But that location became a curse during Nazi rule, and Oswiecim was chosen as the final destination and place of murder for over a million Jews and many others too, who were deported from all over Europe.

Reconciliation

Oswiecim’s own Jewish residents were among the victims.

There are no Jews living here today, but the centre in the former synagogue has regular visits from Holocaust survivors who were born in the town.

It wants to draw visitors from the Auschwitz concentration camp site into Oswiecim to explore the history of the rich society the Nazis destroyed.

And the Jewish centre is just one of several places in the town exploring the nature of genocide, and the possibility of reconciliation.

At the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer, I came across a man who plays a remarkable symbolic role as the only German living in Oswiecim today.

Manfred Deselaers is a Catholic priest with a ready smile but a deeply serious mission.

After German reunification in 1990 and much talk of Germany moving on from its past, he decided to settle permanently here.

He immersed himself first in its darkest history, studying the claims made by the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, that he was a Christian believer.

Today Father Deselaers runs courses bringing former Auschwitz prisoners – Catholic and Jewish – together with young Poles and Germans.

Sometimes even the descendants of Germans who worked at the death camp are there.

Given this kind of encounter, he tells me, Oswiecim-Auschwitz can be a place with a “remarkable positive power, which is strange but it’s here”.

“It’s important that people are not simply overwhelmed, but see something good,” he says. “That Hitler does not have the last word about this place”.

It will never be straightforward for Oswiecim to emerge from the shadow of Auschwitz.

The reconciliation work is a start, drawing on memories of the town’s brighter history before the Nazis arrived.

It is seen as offering a kind of map – like the map I found buried in the tourist information office – showing a way towards a more positive future for a town still trapped in the most terrible of pasts.

Chris Bowlby for BBC News

August 1, 2010 Posted by | Krakow Travel Advice, News, Tour Information | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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