The uses of salt are appreciated by everybody but not everyone knows the history of mining of this valuable mineral. A visit to the Kraków Salt Works Museum – one of the biggest mining museums in Europe – will reveal to you the secrets of the salt mining process. The museum has two permanent exhibitions: an underground one, located on the third level of the historic salt mine in Wieliczka, and one located on the surface, in the Salt Works Castle.
Historical museum objects can be found at a depth of 135 metres, and this creates a unique mining heritage museum. One can become acquainted here with the history of the formation and extraction of salt. The one and only collection of old wooden pulling machines – ancestors of steam and electric machines – is available to view here.
Museum objects collected in a historic working, at the depth of 135 metres, create a unique mining heritage museum. One can become acquainted here with the history of formation and extraction of salt. The one and only collection of old wooden pulling machines – ancestors of steam and electric machines – is available here.
In the heart of Wieliczka, in the Salt Works Castle, exhibitions concerning archaeology and history of the town are on display. At the Salt Cellars – Small Masterpieces exhibition, unique salt cellars are presented, for example in the shape of an airplane or gilded little ships with sailors.
In 2013 the Salt Works Castle in Wieliczka was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Elaborated by Julia Czapla, Joanna Kotarba,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

Photograph by Sebastian Woźniak, arch. MIK (2013),
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

www.muzeum.wieliczka.pl

ul. Zamkowa 8,
32-020 Wieliczka


phone 12 278 32 66
phone 12 422 19 47
Fax 12 278 58 49
page museum

Opening hours

May  — September
Monday
closed
Tuesday  — Sunday
9.00 — 20.00
October  — April
Monday
closed
Tuesday  — Sunday
8.30 — 15.30

Ticket Prices

normal 8 PLN reduced 5 PLN family 15 PLN Saturday — free admission
Objects

Mining trolley

Mine carts, called Hungarian dogs, appeared in the Wieliczka excavations at the end of the 18th century, and they were put into operation by the Austrian partition authorities, to whom the mine belonged at that time. The rather funny name of these transport devices is most likely related to the sounds made by their wheels while moving.

Rock salt hair and fibrous salt

White salt hair grows on a light grey marl loam. Salt hair is a very original form of those taken by halite. Fibres – in fact, halite crystals in special conditions – grow in one direction. Sometimes, the density of fibres may favour their crystal clumping. The hair then transforms into a fibrous salt, preserving a specific needle structure.

Parade miner’s sabre

Carrying weapons was a privilege of miners as free people. Salt Works introduced uniforms for their employees in 1773. A sabre was an important element of the outfit and later also the mining uniform. Parade weapons are a special type of weapon that have almost lost their utilitarian functions in favour of representational ones.

Candlestick with a kneeling angel

This is a polychrome wooden sculpture depicting a kneeling angel with a candlestick in his left hand. The figure is dressed in a long dark green tunic and a brown coat. The sculpture was found in the destroyed chapel of St. Kunegunda on Boczaniec, on the 1st level of the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Salt stalactite

This was used to identify a stalactite with an elongated, spindly-shape, hanging from the ceiling, for example, in a cave. It turns out that, in the case of halite, secondary crystallizations that grow from top to bottom can also take forms that are far from their classic appearance.

Salt stalagmite

This is crystalline halite, in the form of “Christmas tree” stalagmite, from crystals with an incomplete crystallization structure, with rusty-brown colouring, because of the iron compounds present. The saline stalagmite, resembling the shape of a Christmas tree, is the result of the free growth of halite crystals under stable conditions of temperature, airflow, and humidity.

White salt stalagmite

This consists of crystalline flowstone halite, formed in the form of a “Christmas tree” stalagmite, growing in the form of a “shrub” composed of salt crystals. The specimen has a white colour with a hint of grey. The natural complement to a stalactite is usually a stalagmite — a similar structure growing from the ground.

Salt cellar in the shape of an elongated cup

This silver salt shaker, in the shape of an elongated bowl, which is decorated at the edge with an openwork strip of plants, is the work of a high-class goldsmith. It was made in France in pre-revolutionary times, in Paris in the years 1786–1787, by the goldsmith, Jean-Baptiste-François Chéret. The precise determination of the authorship, time, and place of the creation of this work is possible thanks to the marking, which, in the past, was to testify the occurrence of precious metal, and nowadays is the source of information about the history of the object; its interpretation, however, often requires detective work.

Silver, round salt shaker, on three volute stems

This valuable product of artistic handicraft is a silver and gold-plated salt shaker – an example of Baroque goldsmithing from Augsburg – which was one of the most important European gold smithery centres.

Porcelain salt cellar with a figure of black woman with a basket

This is a figurine-shaped porcelain salt shaker with a container for salt. A very decorative figure of black woman with a basket was created in the oldest European porcelain workshop in Meissen, near Dresden. It was made according to the model developed by Johann Friedrich Eberlein in 1741.

Chinese porcelain salt shaker

The presented salt shaker is an example of early white-blue pottery, which is decorated with cobalt blue. It is a rare form of Far Eastern porcelain imported to Europe. The object has come a long way to the collection of the Wieliczka Museum, because it was made in China during the Kangxi period (1662–1722).

Silver salt cellar with a figure of a boy pushing the sled

This silver salt shaker, in the shape of a boy pushing a sled, is actually a miniature sculpture. It evokes admiration for the precision of the 19th century artist from Frankfurt, who, in the microscopic scale of a few centimeters, was able to develop numerous, intricate details and decorations.

Cooper’s guid chest

The chest is made of oak, with inlaid work made of ash. The inlaid work presents two angels, and between them there is a wooden bathtub (on the lid) and two mallets, callipers, and an axe (on the front wall). There are metal handles on the sides of the chest, and, in the middle, there is a compartment for guild privileges.

Sleigh for the transportation of salt

During the first centuries of the existence of mines, small spoil was transferred from the face to the shaft in the basins and reeds; salt rocks and barrels were rolled with the help of walacz rods or pulled on the szlafy (the so-called sanice). The szlafy are mentioned only in 18th century sources; however, given the fact that they have been used on the surface long before the mine was created, it can be assumed that they were used in the Wieliczka salt pits in the Middle Ages.

Salt sculpture “St. Kinga of Poland”

The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents St. Kinga of Poland. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal and is 1.85 m tall (2.4 m including the pedestal). St. Kinga is dressed in a habit consisting of the long tunic girded with a rope with knots to which a rosary is attached, a short coat, covering for the head (for forehead, cheeks and neck) and a veil covering the arms.

Salt sculpture “St. Barbara”

The sculpture was carved in green salt and represents Saint Barbara. The figure stands on a cubic pedestal.

Horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka

The horn of Salt Diggers Brotherhood of Wieliczka is a unique Renaissance work of art commemorating the past wealth of Kraków salt mines. It is the only historical object of such preserved in Poland — the genuine horn of an aurochs (the species that became extinct in Poland in the 17th century, the ancestor of cattle), precisely framed in silver embedded in various golden ornaments.

Hungarian-style horse mill

The Hungarian-style horse mill was the best machine for the vertical transportation of salt. It was able to lift loads that weighed over 2 tonnes from a depth greater than 300 m. It was an improved version of the Saxon-style horse mill implemented by Austrians after the First Partition of Poland. Since 1861 it was replaced by steam engines and after 1913 by electrical machines.

Horse mill

Because of the fact that in the salt mines of the Kraków region, i.e. salt mines in Wieliczka and Bochnia, salt lies deep underground, it was excavated through shafts by using the right tools, like devices with a horizontal drive shaft (windlass), handwheels, treadwheels (internal and external), devices with a vertical drive shaft (cross, water-mill), devices with a vertical-horizontal drive shaft (gear mill with a winding reel, gear mill with two winding reels, gear mill with a brake drum) and braking devices.

Oil mining lamp

The earliest source of confirmation regarding use of oil lamps in the Wieliczka Mine dates back to the beginning of the 16th century, but there are no exact data on the shape and material from which they were made. Probably, two types of oil lamps were used: clay – to be held in the hand or adapted to be placed on a flat surface; and metal – with a hook for carrying and hanging, connected with a container for tallow. The shapes of both types are similar – pear-shaped and vertical.

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