History of Wieliczka Salt Mine



Kinga’s Chapel-
underground salt chapel in Poland

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, located in southern Poland, is over 700 years old. Legend has it that Princess Kinga found the mine. In the 13th century, Kinga was a Hungarian princess set to marry the sovereign of Krakow, Poland. When asked what she wanted as a wedding gift, Kinga requested no jewels or gold, since she believed they only brought unhappiness and tears. She wanted something that would serve her people. So she asked for salt. Kinga was awarded the largest and most prosperous salt mine in Hungary. Before leaving for Poland, Kinga threw her ring into the mine. When she arrived in Poland, Kinga asked the miners there to look for salt. They started digging and hit something very hard. It was a salt rock with her ring! Kinga then became known as the patron saint of the Wieliczka salt mine, as she is attributed to finding the mine. When Kinga’s husband died, she gave up the throne and all of her possessions to become a simple Clares nun. She dedicated the rest of her life serving the poor and helping people with leprosy. Throughout the middle ages, miners continued to dig out these salt deposits. They were not susceptible to the plague, and their salt mining horses lived up to 6 years longer than average. Kinga also lived a long life, reaching 68 years old. In the end, she was right: salt is necessary for good health, making it worth more than any jewels and riches in the world.

In 1843, Dr. Felix Boczkowski discovered that the presence of the air in the salt mines in Wieliczka in Poland, saturated with dry salt particles, caused healing effects on people with pulmonary and respiratory problems.

Today, the Wieliczka Salt Mine operates as the largest underground rehabilitation and treatment center. They are the world leader in providing innovative rehabilitation and treatment of respiratory diseases, by combining both the natural micro-climate of the underground salt excavations and top practices of contemporary medicine.

Wieliczka Mine in Poland

Salt contains elements essential to life: iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, selenium and copper. When they are lacking or in short supply in the human body, it can lead to serious problems with physical and mental health. For example, the selenium contained in salt has a huge impact on halting skin aging processes. As a result, Polish health resorts and health and beauty centers offer treatments involving selenium-saturated salt solutions. Many tourist guidebooks on Poland feature detailed descriptions of the therapeutic value of the natural salt caves in Wieliczka and Bochnia. They offer comprehensive treatment of asthma, allergies, respiratory diseases, skin diseases/blemishes, and obesity. Located 135 meters underground, in a chamber called Lake Wessel, it offers unique therapeutic benefits, as well as having a great aesthetic. These seven hour stays, in absolutely pure air saturated with therapeutic sodium chloride, ions of magnesium and calcium, in the expert care of doctors and physiotherapists, are not cheap; but these treatments for the body and soul cannot be compared with anything available at a conventional sanatorium.

The salt mine in Wieliczka is unique on a global scale, but the therapeutic properties of salt are successfully used by other centers, in artificial caves built exclusively from timber, without any metal parts, filled with salt. The special atmosphere of these artificial caves is due to the great care taken in recreating the landscape forms of natural caves, appropriate lighting that brings out the structures of lumps of salt crystals, soft music, and a pleasantly higher temperature and humidity compared to natural caves. They are saturated with bio-elements precious to human health and create an atmosphere of absolute relaxation, as they are free of the unpleasant wind and noise of less controlled climates.

Salt Deposits in Wieliczka Mine

Therapeutic effects of staying in artificial salt caves include:

  • Treatment of neuroses and neurotic states
  • Rehabilitation for sport/accident injuries
  • Alleviating physical and emotional exhaustion resulting from working in high responsibility/financial accountability jobs

Sources: www.poland.travel.en/us and kopalnia.pl

Salt Spa St. Augustine

Salt Spa has imported over 25 tons of therapeutic salt from Poland and the Himalayas. This creates a unique micro-climate rich in minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, bromine and iodine. During your 45 minute therapeutic session, you will improve your health by relaxing in comfortable recliners, listening to the soothing sounds of music, and breathing air that is saturated with these beneficial minerals. The air temperature inside the Salt Cave is 69 F and the humidity is maintained at 60%.

 

*Pictures of Wieliczka used with permission by

Bartek Dziedzic | www.Zdjecia-Reklamowe.pl