The Modena Chamber features a Polish horse powered hauling gear, so called polish, the oldest and largest transport machine in the Museum collection. The machine displayed in the chamber was assembled in 1957 using original parts found in the mine, with certain missing components reconstructed based on preserved documents. A strong impression is created by its giant dimensions: a height of almost 9 metres and a length exceeding 16 metres. The machine was drawn by eight horses and was capable of transporting to ground 80 tonnes of yield daily.
The location hosts an exhibition named “Cracow Saltworks – a Royal Enterprise” featuring the history of that unique organization over centuries. Special attention is attracted by historical documents and original paintings by Jan Matejko. However, the most precious exhibit is the Horn of the Hewer Guild, a masterpiece of early Renaissance goldsmith craft. The object was funded in 1534 by Seweryn Boner, saltworks manager, and its symbolism represents the wealth of the Wieliczka mine and demanding work of miners.
The exhibition in the lower section of this chamber (the largest in the entire mine!) is focused on mechanization of mining work and the history of tourism in the Wieliczka saltworks. The first theme is illustrated by various mining tools used from the 18th to the 20th century. Historical tourist traffic is represented e.g. by comfortable cars of a horse-drawn train designed for top authorities of the Austria-Hungary Empire. A visit of another eminent guest, Frédéric Chopin, is commemorated by his sculpture created by Bolesław Chromy.
The exhibition “Geology of Salt Deposits in Poland” illustrates the history of Wieliczka “white gold” that began to form 13.5 million years ago. Those prehistoric times are recorded in fossils, such as cones and corals, indicating radically different climate conditions that prevailed in the territory of present Poland millions of years ago. Particular attention of visitors is attracted by entirely transparent salt crystals from the Wieliczka reserve of Crystal Caves.
Exhibition presents mining tools used for centuries: pickaxes, hammers and iron wedges. They were used to tear salt blocks from the walls, which were then divided into smaller blocks, so-called salt snowmen. Their weight reached up to 2 tons! The chamber also presents a unique collection of mining lamps: from the oldest oil seams, through oil and carbide lamps, to modern.
The chamber has been equipped with a touch screen enabling interactive learning of various types of mining works and educational games. The chamber also has a permanent exhibition devoted to mining traditions, there are mining uniforms and parade weapons: swords, sabers and walking sticks.
The exhibition tells about the fate of Wieliczka from the beginning of the settlement in the late Paleolithic times up to modern times. The largest exhibit in place is a large, very precise model of the "salt city" on a scale of 1: 100. This object was carefully constructed by Alfons Długosz, the founder of the Wieliczka Museum, based on the plan of Marcin German from 1631-38.
The chamber was excavated at the turn of 1950s and 1960s as an extension of the Vistula gallery. At present, it marks the end of the Tourist Route and the beginning of the Museum Route. Sightseeing of both routes is possible by a single ticket, no additional fee must be paid. Souvenirs from the Wieliczka mine can also be bought in the Vistula Chamber.
The St. Kinga Chapel is an underground sanctuary that creates an unforgettable impression. Firstly, it is characterized by giant dimensions; secondly, almost all object in its interior design, including sculptures and chandeliers, are made from salt The uncommon nature of the place is augmented by its location more than 100 metres under ground. The events organized here, including masses on the day of St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners, but also secular concerts, gain a unique, magnificent setting.
The chamber, named after the head of Wieliczka mine in the years 1915-1921, features an underground treasure, a brine lake about 9 metres deep. Brine accumulated in the lake is much denser than fresh water due to a high content of sodium chloride or simply salt. The Barącz Chamber is distinguished by a salt column left in the centre of the lake to support the ceiling of the entire excavation.
The chief attraction of the Michałowice Chamber is the elaborate and also giant cribbing – “scaffoldings” made from wooden beams to support the ceiling. They were constructed by crib makers and confirm their remarkable engineering skills. The chamber is used at present to organize banquets and concerts of chamber music
The Wieliczka mine must obviously contain a place commemorating Casimir the Great who switched building in Poland “from wood to stone”. That monarch issued the Articles of Cracow Saltworks, a document that reformed operations of the Wieliczka and Bochnia mines, established the office of saltworks manager and codified old common law. The chamber features a salt sculpture of Casimir the Great, and a horse-drawn Saxon hoist dating back to the 18th century.
Nicolaus Copernicus, a genius astronomer but also economist and physician visited the Wieliczka mine in 1493 during his course of study at the Jagiellonian University. The 500th anniversary of his birth was commemorated by giving his name to one of chambers in Wieliczka. Władysław Hapek created a salt monument of the scientist that is also displayed here. An interesting characteristic illustrating the history of that chamber is its round shape indicating operation of a horse-drawn wooden hoist in the past.
The name of the chamber comes from the Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Austria - Franciszek von Saurau. The chamber was made available to tourists as early as 1877 due to its unusual scenic qualities. In historical guidebooks, it is described as the greatest chamber of the tourist route of that time. A contemporary attraction is the movable model (1: 1) presenting the miners' reunion to the mine, based on the 17th century engravings.
The Saltworks Castle was established at the end of the 13th century as the seat of one of the largest enterprises in Europe - Krakow Saltworks. Its function has been completely uninterrupted for almost 700 years. The contemporary interior of the Castle hides not only beautiful chests of drawers and charming cellars, but also temporary and permanent exhibition spaces, including those that are among the world's most valuable salt cellars collections.
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