This is a short day trip from Krakow, about 1 hour by car, but as they warn you 800 steps down. Oh my. It is/was a major salt deposit from an ocean that dries up several million years ago. Once it was discovered it has been mined for over 700 years. This was a major source of income to many of the kings of this country, today it still produces income for all the people who work there.
I never in a million years would have imagined a salt mine would be a delightful trip. I would probably do this trip another time and enjoy it just as much. At first I was a little intimidated at the thought of 800 stairs. When I read a little more I saw that it was broken up in stages. After a series of doors that close behind your little group to assure the hot air from ground level does not make it down into the mine. You start down the stairs. They are well built sturdy and the groups move slowly due to congestion on the stairs in the summer. These are not scary and it’s 1/2 flight then a platform and another 1/2 flight down. I am not sure of the exact number but it is well over 300.
Once at the bottom of these stairs you begin the first part of the tour. Each tour must have a guide who regularly counts the people in their group to make sure they have not left anyone behind. The groups are broken up by language and each guide speaks the language, Polish, Spanish, English, French, Italian etc.
The crystals on the chandeliers and walls, ceiling and floors are all salt, as is all the carvings, and all made by minors who worked in the mine. We see modern day tourists turning the giant screw that was once used to move salt up to the surface, pre-electricity.