Domeyko’s descendants in Wieliczka

In 1885, Ignacy Domeyko visited the Wieliczka Salt Mine during his travels across Europe and Poland. This year, his relatives have continued his journey and visited Wieliczka in August.

Visitors who saw Wieliczka on 11 August are great-great-grandchildren of Ignacy Domeyko: journalist Cecilia Domeyko, the author of biographical literature about Domeyko, Paz Domeyko Lea-Plaza and their brother Miguel Domeyko. The visitors were accompanied by prof. Zdzisław Jan Ryn, the author of several books devoted to Domeyko, psychiatrist, professor of medical science UJ CM, mountaineer and traveller, former ambassador in Chile and Argentina.

Unusual visitors first toured the tourist route and the route of the Cracow Saltworks Museum in Salt Mine, then they visited the Salt Mine Castle with the most valuable collection of salt cellars in Poland. Thanks to the original photographs taken by the Salt Mine’s first photographer, Awit Szubert, the visitors also had the chance to trace Domeyko’s underground route.

Ignacy Domeyko was an extraordinary figure, who surely deserves to be remembered. In Chile he was declared the father of mining, father of astronomy, defender of Indian rights and the apostle of science and education. He was an excellent scientist, mathematician, geologist, teacher and organizer. He not only possessed an outstanding creative intelligence but also sensitivity and deep spirituality. In honour of his great achievements in the world, UNESCO declared the year 2002 the year of Ignacy Domeyko.

He was a great patriot, a man of science and faith, about whom his Chilean biographer Miguel Amunátegui wrote: “His brain is like a temple, on the altar of which God rests, and on the side altars, on the right rests science and on the left rests art”. In 1996, a group of people was formed in Santiago de Chile in order to undertake activities in favour of recognising Domeyko as a Servant of God. The author of Polish biography is prof. Zdzisław Ryn, who spent a dozen of years researching the life and activities of Domeyko. Today he is the best Domeyko expert.

With reference to Domeyko’s relatives coming to Wieliczka, the question is: what did the salt mine look like then? The answer can be found in the Cracow Saltworks Museum Wieliczka, which, alongside numerous monuments of mining technology, preserves materials related to the history of tourism: old guides, reports, maps and photographs. They make it possible not only to recreate the course of the old route and see the chambers visited, but also to feel their atmosphere. It is largely thanks to the first photographer of the Wieliczka mine: Awit Szubert, who in 1892, 7 years after the visit of Domeyko, immortalised the Wieliczka mine.

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