Category Archives: Poland

Salty Transformations

The weekly photo challenge is transformation. While the original blog discusses weather and seasonal transformations, I decided to go in a different direction.

©Sharon Popek
The entrance to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland. The mine opened in the 13th Century and worked continuously through 2007. It is now a tourist attraction where one walk down to 210 ft below ground on a very narrow stairwell.

When we were in Krakow, Poland, we visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines. The mines have been continuously active from the 13th century until 2007. I briefly discussed our trip to the mines in my Krakow post.  Here you can see some more of the mines and why it’s worth going down 400 stairs to get there.

The majority of the tunnels were lined with wood, but once in a while we would pass an area where we could see the salt seeping from the walls, creating a marble effect. Once in the mine, we started seeing sculptures and scenes carved from the salt by the miners themselves.

©Sharon Popek
The walls in the tunnels are covered with salt, creating a marble look.

Once large scene, carved in the 17th century, depicts the Princess of Kinga. Princess Kinga was reluctantly engaged to Bolesław V. The legend is that she flung her engagement ring into the Maramures salt mine in Hungary. From there, the ring made its way to Wieliczka, Poland where it was discovered in a lump of salt. Thus bringing salt mining to Wieliczka.

©Sharon Popek
The Janowice Chamber is a large sculpture dedicated to Kinga

Throughout the mines, there are scenes like this, just as old. But the most amazing is the Chapel of St. Kinga. It is a testament to the miners’ dedication to their Christian beliefs and acts as a working cathedral. They hold weekly Holy Services, sermons, weddings, etc in the large hall.

The mine is on Poland’s official National Historic Monuments registry. It is also a Unesco World Heritage site.  There are different routes you can take through the mines. There is a tourist route, a miner’s route, and a Pilgrim’s route. The Pilgrim’s route includes prayers in each chapel and a mass at the end of the tour.

©Sharon Popek 2017
Chapel Salt Mine. A chapel inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines in Krakow, Poland.

Krakow City Scenes

This gallery is from Krakow, Poland. Krakow is the oldest and one of the largest cities in Poland.  It is located on the Vistula River, making it an important economic hub in Europe. Historically, the city has been a leader in culture, the arts, and academia. I loved the market on the square in Old Town with its handmade goods, yummy food vendors, and beer readily available. As with most major European cities, you’ll find churches everywhere. Poland is 96% catholic, so they definitely like their cathedrals. In Old Town Krakow, you’ll find Wawel Castle. It was built by Casimir III the Great and has a very Italian feel. It has several different structures centered around a courtyard and combines medieval, renaissance, and baroque architectural styles.

At some point, I will probably do a blog about WWII and Nazi Germany and the way it changed the Polish landscape. We did visit the Jewish Ghetto, Schindler’s Factory, and Auschwitz while in Poland. I have many emotions related to those places and the massacres and atrocities that took place there. However, this gallery is about the city in its current state.

We visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine. They take you down 400 stairs to get in to the mine. My legs were a little like jelly when we reached the bottom. We did get to take an elevator back up. The tunnels themselves were lined with wood but there were quite a few alcoves and larger rooms which would have sculptures made from rock salt from the mine. There is a large cathedral like room with several sculptures of the Mary and Jesus (catholics, remember?). The salt finishes with a smooth glass and is translucent, so they would be backlit. All the chandeliers were made from rock salt. Also, our tour guide was a much older gentleman, possibly in his 70s or 80s and he outpaced us all. The salt does wonders for your health, I guess.

 

Now for Poland

After Budapest, we traveled to Krakow, Poland. I seem to have taken a great many food related photos in Poland. I found some lovely dark beers and ate some amazing food in the outdoor market in Krakow. I’d say the biggest issue for myself is that I do not eat a lot of meat. I do not eat chicken at all. I will occasionally eat beef or pork. But mostly I prefer seafood or no meat at all. So, traveling to landlocked cities that are known for their meat and potato meals was definitely a challenge. Sometimes when traveling you have to set aside certain things, like free toilets and available seafood. So, I did eat a beef kabob from a vendor in the market. I have to admit, it tasted amazing.