Wieliczka salt mine attracts record number of visitors in 2018

Nearly 1.75 million tourists from 170 countries visited the Wieliczka salt mine, outside the southern Polish city of Kraków in 2018, 50,000 more than in the previous year, Zbigniew Zarębski head of the mine told PAP.

"This number shows that the Wieliczka salt mine is a wonderful calling card for Poland, and has a positive impact on the country's image, as well as the economy," Zarębski said.

Foreign tourists constituted about 60 percent of all visitors, with the biggest numbers coming from Great Britain (120,500), Germany (83,500) and Spain (82,300). There were also guests from such distant countries as Antigua and Barbuda, Mauritania and Vanuatu.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was founded in the 13th century and has been a tourist destination since the 18th century. It is the largest underground museum in Europe, and presents all aspects of salt making and mining conducted at the Kraków salt works. The exhibits presented in the historical pits make up a unique mining museum.

An underground tourist route was opened in 1966. The mine has many kilometres of galleries with works of art, underground chapels and statues sculpted in salt, that make up a fascinating pilgrimage into the past.

The museum's main attractions include the sophisticated Horn of the Salt Diggers Brotherhood from 1534, an exclusive horse-drawn train from the 19th century, a collection of mining tools and equipment, unique maps of the underground tunnel system and salt specimens, including crystals from crystal grottoes.

The Wieliczka salt mine was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.