Select Kotak - page 10

Treasures beneath
Darius, a former miner, guided me through the mine.
In places, the mine reminded me more of an art gallery
than a place of industry. Sculptors have hewn figures
and carved evocative bas relief friezes within the
mine. At 101 metres underground, St Kinga’s Chapel
is adorned with chandeliers made of salt crystals. As
Clockwise from below: Maginificently
carved in rock salt, the Chapel of St
Kinga is an impressive underground
chapel in the Wieliczka Salt mine; The
Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) is one of the
most distinctive buildings in Kraków’s
market square; The Tarnowskie Góry
Silver Mine includes a 270-metre long
boat ride that allows exploration of the
underground passages.
we paused in the chapel, Darius flicked a switch and
music from Verdi’s opera
resonated through
the cavern. The underground acoustics impressed me.
Seeing that, Darius suggested I should return to attend
a classical concert in the Drozdowice III Chamber.
Before heading to the surface, I dined 125 metres
underground, in the atmospheric Warszawa Chamber.
The caverns are by no means pokey or poorly lit; as I’d
half expected. The world’s first underground bungee
jump was held in the mine—a 36-metre jump—and
that gives some idea of the size of Wieliczka’s man-
made caverns.
Wieliczka is 10 km from the heart of Krakow. The
Old Town there is also on UNESCO’s list of World
Heritage Sites. The locals joked with me that the 14th
century Cloth Hall, a home to shops selling handicrafts
and leather goods, is the world’s oldest shopping
mall. The hall stands on an expansive market square,
locally known as Rynek. In an attempt to revisit the
past, I headed down the steps inside the hall to visit
Rynek Underground, a contemporary museum which
opened in 2010 and tells the story of excavations in
the Old Town. Subtle lighting, well-crafted displays and
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