The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, has a unique position in the history of salt mining. Built in the 13th century, this mine was in operation for 700 years producing rock salt without interruption until 2007, becoming one of the world's oldest running salt mines. The scale of excavation in this mine is huge – a complex labyrinth of corridors, galleries, and chambers, totaling more than 300km in length on several levels. But the miners who worked there did more than just mine salt. Over the centuries, these miners working underground had established a tradition of carving sculptures out of the native rock salt. This include dozens of statues, three chapels, altars, bas-reliefs, and an entire cathedral, even the chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. It is an astonishing sight, one that draws over a million tourists from around the world each year.
Since 1978, Wieliczka Salt Mine has been one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.