May 15 - 21 2016: Issue 263


 Salt sculpture - Offering a Tribute


By George Repin

The town of Wieliczka (vyeh-leech-kah) located about 15 Kms.  southeast of Kraców in Southern Poland is famous for its deep salt mine which, in 1978, was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites. The town was founded by a local Duke in the 12th Century to mine the salt.

Opened in the 13th Century the mine produced table salt continuously until 2007, although commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 because of low salt prices and some flooding in the mine. It was one of the world’s oldest salt mines when production was discontinued.

A labyrinth of 300 Kms of tunnels is distributed over nine levels, the deepest being 327 metres below the surface.  Everything has been carved, in salt, by hand. Twenty two chambers connected by galleries, at a depth of 64 m. to 135 m. are open to the public by guided tour. 

Main mine building with lift tower

There are four salt-hewn chapels, statues, bas reliefs and monuments all cut out and decorated by miners over the years.  An outstanding showpiece is the ornamented Chapel of St. Kinga (Kaplica Św Kingi) measuring 54 m. by 18 m. and 12 m. high.  20,000 tonnes of rock salt were removed in its construction. Every element in the chapel, including altars, wall carvings and even chandeliers, is of salt.

The Chapel of St. Kinga - photograph from Wikipedia

Salt sculpture - Standing Woman

Salt sculpture - Bas relief of oriental figures in Chapel of St. Kinga

Salt sculpture - Wall decoration in Chapel of St. Kinga

Salt sculpture - Illuminated panel in Chapel of St. Kinga

Chandelier -all decorative features carved from salt

The Wieliczka mine is sometimes referred to as The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.

Visitors enter the mine by a wooden staircase of 378 steps to the 64 m. (210 ft.) level where a 3 Kilometre (1.9 mile) tour of the mine’s corridors, chapels, statues and an underground  lake starts – going down to the 135 m. (443 ft.) level.  The tour takes in less than 2% of the mine’s passages. At the end of the tour an elevator takes the visitor to the surface,

Salt in the mine is not white and crystalline, as might be expected, but various shades of grey resembling unpolished granite.  The deposit was formed in the Miocene Epoch, 13.6 million years ago.

The head office of the mine’s board from medieval times until 1945 was in the Castle in Wieliczka – the so-called The House Within the Saltworks – now the location of the Kraków Saltworks Museum.                           

Photographs, other than of the Chapel of St. Kinga, were taken by George Repin in 2000.

 Salt sculpture - Man with Horse and Cart

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre  Around Angkor - 1963  Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross The Oceaographic  Museum in Monaco  The Island of Elba Russian Fairy Tale Plates Meteora Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska Cloisonné Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories Not A Chagall! Did You Listen? Did You Ask? Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells Murano  University of Padua Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi  Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park  Aphrodisias  The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre  Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island  ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997 Hotere Garden Oputae Children of the Trobriand Islands Page Park Market - Rabaul Rabual  Kotor, Montenegro  Galleries of Photographs I  Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II  The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia  Ivan Meštrović  - Sculptor  Delphi  Gallery of Photographs III  The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point  San Simeon - "Hearst Castle"  Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982  Russian New Year  Mycenae  "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska  The White Pass and Yukon Route  Totem Poles  Tivkin Cemetery  Krka National Park - Croatia Tavistock Square and the BMA  Orthodox Easter  

Copyright George Repin 2016. All Rights Reserved.