I have been visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine for many years. I always have admired the entire splendid job Nature had done as well as the one done by People. I walked the underground tracks and licked the walls… But I never had any opportunity to visit the Salt Works Castle. It was because I always had Wieliczka on tour on Monday! All the Museums in Poland are closed on Mondays – due to a traditionally “interior day” (whatever it means)… This time however it was Sunday! So – I bade my group farewell, saw them off – taking the elevator down to the mine, and went to visit the Castle.
I know now that I shall definitely return there. I had only two hours (this is how long the tour of the mine takes) – so I did not have too much time to penetrate the whole museum thoroughly.
I took some pictures of the salt shakers – presented there, as I thought it was a charming exhibition.
“Pass the salt please” we say at the table. Never (or seldom) we think of the great importance salt had and still has to mankind. I shall not write about salt itself – as you can find the description HERE, as well as some history… However it is necessary to mention how important it was (and still is)to many. Most often we hear not to use salt – as it rises the blood pressure. It is called the “white death”… But way back in the history it was a very important trade article.
From the middle ages, the merchants of Gdansk were importing salt from Lüneburg Saltworks. Later, the greedy eyes turned to the Polish salines in the south. Wieliczka was one of such titbits. Unfortunately the Loitz family of Danzig (Gdansk) failed in the race for the shares in the Wieliczka Salines. Unfortunately, the Polish king died in the meantime, and the Polish Diet didn’t want to pay the king’s private debts (see the detailed history of the Wawel tapestries). (Note – the Loitz Family was called the Fuggers of the north).
In the 18th century Poland lost independence. Many Poles were exiled to Syberia, (from the late 18th to the 20th century) many of them died there – marking the landscape with graves. However many managed to save themselves. Those who were lucky to have returned home (if home was still existing…) gave the evidence of the tragedy. And often – proudly showed a sack of salt they managed to get somewhere in the middle of the Syberian nowhere. Such pouch full of salt could save life – sold for a good amount of money…
Today, we usually notice salt only when we cook, or need it at the table… “Pass the salt please”… Very often we do not even notice the little pieces of art salt is kept in 😉