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The Mining Reservation Saurau

This chamber was exploited in a large block of green salt in 1820-70 and is the largest of all the cavities (15 900 cubic metres). The name of the chamber commemorates the Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister of Austria War it was named after gen. Józef Haller to commemorate his visit to the mine (2 July 1919), and in the 1950s it was named after Wincenty Pstrowski.

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The geology of Polish salt deposits

The salt deposit in Wieliczka was formed during the Middle Miocene Period, some 13.5  million years ago when the sea water from neighbouring reservoirs filled the basin at the foot of uplifting mountains.  The sea spread out in eastern and northern directions.

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The Cracow Saltworks – the Royal Enterprise

The beginnings of the mining of salt in Wieliczka and Bochnia are connected by the legend with St. Kinga (1234-1292), so the presentation of one of the largest manufacturing companies in medieval Europe begins her image painted in 1892 by Jan Matejko.

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Old machinery and mining equipment

At the entrance, in two showcases you can see lighting equipment, being personal equipment of the miners sliding down into the mine. The oldest source of light, used in the mine by the end of the nineteenth century, was tallow (animal fats).

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Salt evaporation and drainage systems in the mine

The oldest traces of salt production found near Wieliczka are connected with the exploitation of surface brines and date from the Middle Neolithic Period (around 3500 B.C.). They include equipment used by people of the Lengyel culture discovered in Barycz near Wieliczka (a model in the back of the chamber) consisting of brine channels, containers, furnaces and a large storage house, as well as numerous conical vessels (also known in Wieliczka) used for salt briquetting and drying.

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Systems and equipment for vertical transport

A dominating element in this chamber is an old hauling machine – a horse-powered hauling gear from the 18th century, so called the Saxon horse gear.

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The sacred in salt heritage

The exhibition presents relicts of miners’ spiritual culture. Among the objects of cult transferred here from the underground chapels that date back to the 17th – 20th centuries, there is a collection of wooden sculptures representing Christ Crucified, a figure of Christ lying in the tomb, penance of Mary Magdalene (from the Bochnia Salt Mine), angels with candlesticks, figures of Bethlehem Crèche by J. Markowski and the following paintings: the Guardian Angel from 1691 in the style of the middle class, a figure of Christ Ecce Homo, and St Kinga from 1895.

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Equipment for horizontal - and incline drift transportation

At the entrance to there are two salt sculptures carved at the beginning of the 20th century by the miner and sculptor Józef Markowski. They represent the miners’s patrons – St. Barbara and St. Kinga – and were brought here from an altar that was located near the Daniłowicz shaft on level III.

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Miejska chamber

The earliest traces of human presence in the vicinity of Wieliczka date back to the late Paleolithic period and the Middle Stone Age (the Mesolithic period). They include flint tools, mainly arrowheads discovered in Zakrzów and remnants of the Pleistocene fauna represented by mammoth bones.

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Maria Teresa III chamber

The exhibition was created in 1966 and is part of the underground museum opened to the public in the same year.
The exhibition illustrates all issues connected with the Miocene salt deposits in the area of Wieliczka and Bochnia.

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Horse mill for vertical transport

The displayed horse-powered hauling gear with horizontal rope axle, called “the Pole”, is the oldest and at the same time the largest mechanism for horse-powered transport owned by the Museum. Such mechanisms were installed over the shafts in Wieliczka and Bochnia mines since the half of the 15th century.

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Machines for vertical and incline drift transportation

The horse-powered hauling gear called “the Hungarian” is the most advanced machine for vertical transport. It could lift over two tons of load from a depth of over 300 metres. It was an improved version of the Saxon hauling gear which was introduced by the Austrians after the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Since 1861 it was replaced by steam engine machines, and since 1913 by electric powered machines The machine displayed here was used on level I at the Mirów shaft. It consists of a vertical axle with a rope drum (over 3 metres in diameter) which is divided into two parts by a brake disc. The machine was easily maneuvered by four pairs of horses that performed the work.

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Mining traditions

The complex of Aleksandrowice I and II chambers connected by a gallery with Kaniów transversal gallery has been completely exploited in the 2nd half of the nineteenth and early twentieth century in two lumps of green salt laminated using techniques of manual notch and blasting. Their name refers to the nearby located small shaft, hollowed from the level I in several stages, starting in 1661 when a co-administrator of saltworks was Aleksander Sielski, Castellan of Gniezno and Pobiedno.

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Chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II

The chamber houses a modern multimedia chapel dedicated to St. John Paul II. The essential decor of the shrine consists of three sculptures - salt blocks that give the impression of floating above the ground. The first one forms an altar mensa; the second is an element of the composition; the third, set vertically in the shape of a salt block, consists of four movable parts that, when pulled apart, form a luminous cross.

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Electric locomotive

Due to economic reasons in 1925 horse transport was replaced by cheaper in exploitation battery-powered locomotives. In 1931 electric traction (3994 metres long) was introduced on level IV which connected Kościuszko and Wilson shafts located on opposite ends. After the Second World War, the locomotives were used to carry miners from the Kinga shaft to distant places in the eastern part of the mine.

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Alfons Długosz chamber

This chamber was exploited at the turn of the 19th century in the largest block of green salt found by geologists in the Wieliczka mine that stretched from level I to level V. Originally its name was the Karol Stefan chamber, and then it received the name of the engineer Stefan Przanowski, the Minister of Trade and Industry, to commemorate his visit to the mine on 15 April 1921. The name was changed in 1976 on the first death anniversary of Alfons Długosz, and thus the chamber was named after the founder of the Cracow Saltworks Museum. An aluminum bas-relief “The Phantom” was made by the artist Bogumił Zagajewski in 1973.

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