The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the oldest and largest salt mines in Europe and one of the most famous tourist attractions in Krakow. During the 2-hour tour you will see amazing sights: salt chambers, underground lakes and astonishing rock formations that will leave you breathless.
So now you know, get your tickets to the Wieliczka Salt Mines and charge your camera with plenty of battery because during this tour through the depths of the Earth you won't be able to stop taking pictures.
In this post I'll show you some places where you can take some of the best pictures of your trip to the salt mines and you'll also find some tips on how to get the best images with your camera. Ready?
1. Photos of St. Kinga's Chapel
St. Kinga's Chapel is the jewel of the Wieliczka Salt Mine. This chamber alone is worth a visit.
Its dimensions are impressive and it is more reminiscent of a cathedral than a chapel. From its balustrade you will have a stunning view of the whole temple, so don't hesitate to take a few photos up there.
It is a very special place that took almost 70 years to build, as the work was very laborious and a great deal of effort was put into every detail of its decoration.
As you go down the stairs to the main nave, you will see the huge chandeliers and the biblical reliefs that decorate the walls and serve as altarpieces. Special mention should be made of "The Last Supper" inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's famous work. Take some photos of them too!
2. Photo of the main altar of Santa Kinga
As an underground temple, the high altar of St. Kinga's Chapel holds masses every Sunday and on special occasions such as the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, which is open to the public and can hold up to 400 people!
This place is dedicated to St. Kinga (patron saint of salt miners) and since 1994 her relics have been kept in the altar niche. In the centre of the altar you will see a statue in honour of her but it is not the only one as on the sides you can see other figures of St. Clement and St. Joseph.
The lower section of the pulpit depicts Wawel Hill and the castle in Kraków, while the side altars are carved with reliefs depicting the biblical episodes of "Herod's Decree" and "The Massacre of the Innocents". There is also a statue dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes.
The main artists involved in the decoration of the Chapel of St. Kinga were the Markowski brothers and Antoni Wyrodek, who surprisingly did not have a fine arts education. But they were not the only ones: the statue in honour of Pope John Paul II was the work of the artist Stanisław Aniof, the only salt monument dedicated to the Pope in the world.
3. Photo from the Janowice Chamber
This is one of the most interesting chambers on the tourist route. Here a passage from the legend of the Hungarian princess Kinga (who later became a saint and queen of Poland) is represented by several salt sculptures, referring to the finding of her engagement ring in the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
She is a very important figure in the country's history, so don't hesitate to take a few souvenir photos in the Janowice Chamber while listening to the guide tell the legend of St. Kinga.
4. Photo of the Cunegunda Well
This is one of the coolest sights you'll see during your guided tour of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, so get your camera ready because you'll want to immortalise everything you see at the Cunegunda Pit.
On the one hand, the cute little dwarfs illuminated with colourful lights representing the various miners' jobs inside the mines (the crusher, the loader, the wheelwright and the carpenter). On the other, the curious rock formations such as stalagmites and stalactites surrounding the wishing lake.
The Pozo Cunegunda is the best place to observe the phenomenon of salt crystallisation, and you will be amazed!
5. Photo of St. John's Chapel
If you go down to the third level of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, at the deepest point of the route at 135 metres, you can visit the Chapel of St. John. A beautiful and colourful sanctuary presided over by a crucified Christ with an atmosphere that invites you to meditation.
St. John's Chapel is one of the 40 places of worship that the Polish miners built inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines to pray during the day. The constant threat of landslides at work meant that the miners entrusted their lives to God and were very devout.
If you want to know more about these spaces and others that make up the mine, I recommend you take a look at the post What to see in the Wieliczka Salt Mines.
6. Photo of the Chamber Michalowice
The Michalowice Chamber is not as artistic as the previous ones, as it has no ornaments or sculptures, but you will also want to take a few pictures when you get here because this place is impressive due to its wooden scaffolding, which rises to a height of 35 metres and from which hangs a chandelier even bigger than the ones in the Chapel of St. Kinga.
7. Photo from the Weimar Chamber
When you enter this chamber you will notice that this part of the Wieliczka Salt Mine has an enchanting and unique atmosphere. In fact, there are couples in love who choose it as a place to get engaged.
There is a beautiful illuminated salt lake that adorns the chamber and you will probably want to take a few photographs of it while listening to some of the melodies of the composer Frédéric Chopin, who frequented the mines to treat his asthma.
In the Weimar Chamber you can see a sculpture dedicated to the writer Goethe, who was very fond of speleology and visited the mines on occasion.
Photo tips for the Wieliczka Salt Mines
The first thing you should know when taking photos inside the Wieliczka Salt Mines is that you will have to pay a small entrance fee of about 2.50 euros. Otherwise you may be noticed during the tour.
That said, the Wieliczka Salt Mine Tourist Route is fully illuminated to make it easier for tourists to walk through the various galleries and underground passages. However, in certain areas the lighting conditions are not the best for taking photographs, so you may find that you are trying to take pictures with poor definition.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is such an amazing place that you won't want to leave without taking a lot of pictures, so take note of these tips to get some great shots!
- Activate the HDR mode: this function will help you to take pictures in low light areas and can differentiate the brightest areas from the darkest parts of the scene.
- Use the self-timer: it will help you avoid blurred images and also give you enough time to find the best angle. I recommend the 5 or 10 seconds option.
- Consider whether flash is the best option: Turning on the flash in low light conditions sometimes makes the subject too bright and the background too dark. For a more natural result, try to get close to whatever light is available to you when taking the picture.
- Increase the ISO to 400: In cameras, the higher the ISO, the brighter the image. To avoid having to use flash, set the ISO on your phone to 400 to try to get the best picture with the level of light available.
- Use another mobile phone for lighting: Use the torches of your companions' mobile phones to illuminate the object or person you want to be in the photo at a more flattering angle. It's a handy trick!