These days, salt is on every dinner table and, in the winter, all over the roads and sometimes even ourselves. Needless to say, it’s pretty much a basic item that we all take for granted.
But salt hasn’t always been part of everyone’s table setting. In fact, as Zee News explains, salt used to be more valuable than gold in ancient times.
Why? Because salt was a necessity. Plus, it could be traded just like money is today.
To strike salt was to strike gold, which is exactly what happened when 12th century Polish settlers came across a salt deposit in the southern part of the country.
People extracted evaporated salt from the ground at first, but the valuable commodity was soon mined on a massive scale (especially for that time).
The Wieliczka Salt Mine remained functional for centuries. Today, it is a city lying 500 feet underground — with some of the most amazing architecture you’ve ever seen. That’s because it is made out of 100% salt.
[H/T: Wieliczka Salt Mine]
The mine has many chambers, and the deepest part is 135 meters, or about 450 feet, beneath the earth’s surface.
This illustration gives you an idea of just how many men it would take to carve out and work the mine in its heyday.
Since men more or less lived in the mines, they took some care to make themselves at home and appreciate some of the finer things.
For instance, this version of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” was carved into a wall in the mine.
Every medieval city needed a church, and Wieliczka is no exception — still. Amazingly, the walls, ground, ceiling and fixtures are all carved from the salt.
Today concerts and other events are held here.
Speaking of fixtures, even the incredible chandeliers are carved out of rock salt.
A closer look at the chandelier reveals that the fragments of rock salt look almost just like crystal.
In fact, there are incredible sculptures throughout the mine that pay tribute to different parts of the miner’s culture and Polish legend.
This beautifully lit dwarf scene can’t help but remind you of a very salty Snow White.
Of course, it isn’t all beautiful. As with any mine, there are shafts and reminders of the industry that used to flourish.
There is an amazing 178-miles’ worth of corridors in this entire mine alone.
Would you like to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine?
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