Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines, Wieliczka
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Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines

Wieliczka

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The World Heritage List entry pertaining to the Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines encompasses the following components:

  • Wieliczka salt mine,
  • Bochnia salt mine,
  • Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka
 

The Wieliczka salt mine, the Bochnia salt mine and the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka historically were combined as one company with royal status known as the Kraków Saltworks, which is one of the oldest industrial enterprises on the continent. Both mines, located in the close vicinity of one another and designed to exploit the same geological deposit of rock salt, were controlled from the Saltworks Castle, an administrative centre the activities of which included, among others, the sale of salt to Polish dukes and monarchs, making a sizeable contribution towards their earnings. For the above reason, the Kraków Saltworks and the towns in which the mines were located have received favourable treatment from the Polish monarchs throughout the years.

Today, the property boasts unquestionable historical and research value due to the fact that the mines, which had been in constant use from the 13th century to the final years of the 20th century, reflect the functioning of mining facilities over the years and bear testimony to the evolution of rock salt mining techniques. The surviving collection of tools and machinery used by the miners in the course of their daily work presents an immense educational value.

Both mines incorporate an extensive system of chambers and tunnels spanning a few levels, some of them hundreds of metres deep. A large number of sculptures and other decorative features hewn out of rock salt by the miners in the ages gone by survive inside the excavations in both the Wieliczka and the Bochnia salt mines. The subterranean chapels are particularly notable for their artistic value, their ornate decorations and fittings putting them in a league of their own.

Another feature worth mentioning is the long tourism tradition of the mines, the underground tourist trials having first appeared there more than 200 years ago.

The Wieliczka Salt Mine was included on the World Heritage List in 1978 during the second session of the World Heritage Committee in Washington. The entry was subsequently extended through the inclusion of the Bochnia Salt Mine and the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka in 2013, in the course of the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh (dec. 37 COM 8B.41).

Entry made on the basis of criterion IV:

Criterion (IV):

The Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines illustrate the historic stages of the development of mining techniques in Europe, from the 13th to the 20th centuries. The galleries, the subterranean chambers arranged and decorated in ways that reflect the miners’ social and religious traditions, the tools and machinery, and the Saltworks Castle which administered the establishment for centuries, provide outstanding testimony about the socio-technical system involved in the underground mining of rock salt.

The property is accessible to visitors.

Compiled on the basis of materials of the National Heritage Board of Poland, 30-11-2015

General information

  • Type: cultural
  • Chronology: XIII - XX w.
  • Form of protection: UNESCO
  • Address: Daniłowicza 10, Wieliczka
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district wielicki, commune Wieliczka - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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