Underground attractions

What is most interesting is usually well and truly hidden! In Poland, under the surface, there are real treasures to be found like fabulous caves, mysterious tunnels, multi-storey medieval cellars and even entire cities build by the military.

Nine cave systems, ten military sites, seventeen mines and tunnels and countless storehouses, cellars, dungeons and tunnels, the list of underground wonders in Poland is endless. It includes some wonders on a European scale like the Neolithic mines in Krzemionki Opatowskie or the royal salt mine in Wieliczka that is under the protection of UNESCO.

The underground sites work on the imagination, attracting treasure hunters and are surrounded in legend and mystery. Although deprived of light, they teem with life. The river flowing in the Black Trout Adit is alive with fish and the caves in the Ojcow National Park or the tunnels of the Miedzyrzecz Fortified Region are a favourite location for wintering bats.

The underground sites are not only tourist attractions. The tunnels at Kowary have been adapted as an inhalation centre for Radon therapy and the salt mine in Bochnia has a restaurant, a basketball court and a chapel where weddings are held regularly. The Staszic Chamber at Wieliczka is used by balloonists, the cellars beneath the Market Square in Krakow have been taken over by restaurateurs and the beautiful crypts designed by Lindley at the Department of Slow Filters in the Warsaw Filtration Station that has supplied the capital's clean water for more than 120 years.

Each of the underground sites is associated with a more or less impure entity like a sprite, a dragon, a basilisk a ghost or a whole family of spirits. The cellars beneath the market square in Sandomierz is the residence of the ghost of the beautiful and brave Halina Krepianka, the chalky labyrinth under Chelm is the domain of the benevolent spirit Bieluch and the Lokietek Grotto in Ojcow is guarded by a patriotic spider who, according to legend, helped to preserve the dynastic line of the Piast Dynasty.

The underground sites in Poland can be visited all the year round, regardless of the vagaries of the weather. Only some are closed during the winter but this is only not to disturb the hibernating bats.

Caves are perhaps not the first thing people associate with Poland. Still there are a number of fascinating caves for walkers to visit in Poland. Raj Cave The celebrated Raj Cave is a horizontal limestone cave, located in Hill Malik, to the south of Kielce. Relatively small, it is considered one of Poland’s most beautiful caves with a health of stalactites, stalagmites and other rock formations lining all five chambers and corridors.   The Bear Cave One of the biggest attractions of the Snieznik Massif and the longest cave on the Polish side of the Sudety Mountains. Discovered accidentally in 1966 it contained the remains of now extinct animals which once roamed the area, such as the cave bear, cave lion, hyena, wolf, wild boar and others. Beautiful for its variety of rock formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, rock cascades and other forms.   Mrozna Cave The Mrozna Cave owes its name to low temperatures and white frost-like dripstones on the walls. The nearly 560 metres long cave, with the entrance located at an altitude of 1100 m above sea level was formed by the underground waters of Koscieliski  stream and is mainly horizontal in shape. The highlights include the underground artificial lake and moonmilk, a white, creamy substance found on the limestone walls, comprising aggregates of fine crystals.   Radochowska Cave Located close to Ladek-Zdroj, Radochowska Cave is one of the largest and best-explore caves in the Sudetes. It is a combination of three parallel corridors, which are home to interesting animal species, such as Niphargus tatrensis, a kind of troglobitic species, the archiannelid Troglochaetus beranecki, and numerous bats.   Lokietek Cave No list of Poland’s caves will be complete without the King Lokietek Cave, the largest cave in Ojcow National Park. It was named after King Wladyslaw Lokietek, who allegedly used this cave as a hideout in the early 14th century during his fight with the Bohemian king Waclaw II for the Cracovian throne. The limestone cave, stretching 320 metres is visited by 100,000 people annually.
From a distance it resembles a castle or a prehistoric settlement. When we approach closer, we see that this massive structure filled with blackthorn bundles with salt water running down the structure's wall. A stroll in the area of the graduation tower is one of the most pleasant forms of inhalation therapies. The natural brine mist that forms in the area of the graduation tower is similar to the that at the seacoast. Thanks to its therapeutic properties it facilitates the treatment of selected chronic respiratory system ailments and disorders of a recurrent nature. The prophylactic properties of the brine aerosol are also relevant. During the whole day our lungs accumulate dust contained in the air we breathe. Prophylactic inhalations permit to cleanse the respiratory tracts and that is why they are also referred to as nebulisation therapy. The graduation tower constitutes a complementation of the vast number of services provided by the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine, but it may also be an alternative for those persons who would like to take advantage of all the beneficial values of the Wieliczka salt while remaining on the surface. The graduation tower measures 7,500 square meters of surface area and an additional element prepared for those visiting the facility is the 22-meter high observation tower from which one can admire the panorama of the park and mine shafts. Brine inhalation therapy is applied mainly for treating respiratory system ailments of a chronic and recurring nature, such as:various forms of chronic rhinitis bronchial asthma and allergic respiratory diseases conditions following therapy of acute infections of the respiratory system chronic inflammation of paranasal sinuses chronic laryngitis and eustachitis laryngitis chronic bronchitis chronic obstructive pulmonary disease occupational diseases and injury of the respiratory tracts due to occupational hazard.See more:Wieliczka Mine official website How to get here
It remembers the times of princess and kings. It amazed Copernicus, Goethe, Chopin, and today attracts over 1,000,000 visitors from around the world. The "Wieliczka" Salt Mine, a historic monument entered on the UNESCO list, a tourist attraction, a health resort, a sanctuary,a venue for cultural and sports events. In the whole of Europe and maybe in the whole world it is the first, both in respect of vastness and most certainly because the salt from its depths is pure and of great quality as well as due to the magnificent underground works – wrote Ambrozy Grabowski about the Wieliczka mine (19th c.). He was not the only one to be amazed; what tourists liked over a century ago continues to lure with its beauty making the "Wieliczka" Salt Mine a site which one just has to visit. And no doubt at all – there are many things to admire. Corridors and chambers cut out in rock salt create not only the underground Tourist Route but they also compose the history of salt mining beginning from the Middle Ages till contemporary times. Traces of work performed hundreds of years ago, picturesque saline lakes, chapels chiselled out in wood and salt, saline figures and statues, shining crystal chandeliers create a unique and mysterious world. Moreover, the "Wieliczka" Salt Mine can not only be seen but also experienced – the Miners' Route allows tourists to find out for themselves what a salt miner did on the job. Multimedia exposition and 5D cinema, a playground for kids, a restaurants, underground hotel, souvenir shops, accommodations in saline chambers, topic visits, concerts, exhibitions, stays in the health resort at the depth of 135 meters... Although the mine has celebrated its 700th birthday it continues to thrive and still has many new things to offer – for instance, a brine graduation tower has just been opened on the surface. Saline aerosol inhalations have a beneficial influence on both those who suffer from various kinds of upper respiratory system ailments as well as those who are as healthy as a horse, those who just want to take a rest, a walk or breathe in clean air.The Wieliczka mine astounds, inspires and tempts. It's a must! See it once, and again, and then again... as most certainly it is worthwhile to return over and over again to the "Wieliczka" Salt Mine. See also:Wieliczka Mine website How to get here Hotels in Krakow
A unique exhibition illustrating the development of the mine across centuries together with the history of miners’ work and salt excavation techniques is open! Numerous historical stagings, presented in holograms, interactive projections or astonishingly clear recordings to name just a few, is located along 1.5 km route, 180 m under the earth’s surface. Beside historical performances, the exhibition consists of multimedia shows picturing the harsh reality of mining work such as marsh gas explosion or underground flood. What's more, the visitors are able to travel in time through a tunnel time-machine or play computer games to check their knowledge in a quiz, check themselves in the role of a salt-works manager, or even sleep inside the mine at the depth of 250 metres below the ground.  See also:Bochnia Salt Mine official website Accommodation Near Bochnia
Taking a trip all around the Świetokrzyskie Region, one only needs to turn off the E-7 motorway from Krakow to Kielce into a side road to get to the very centre of “Raj” (“Paradise”) being the most beautiful cave in Poland. Nature has for ages created its underground complex of breathtaking tunnels and chambers decorated with hundreds of stalagmites, stalactites, pillars and pisoids of various shapes and forms. A 180-metre underground route was opened especially for tourists, who may admire the fairy-tale like underground world. The entrance of the cave houses an exhibition with its restored camp of a Neanderthal family, three natural-size figures and remains of prehistoric animals such as the mammoth, hairy rhinoceros and cave bear. See also:Raj cave official website
Chelm has Old Catholic and Orthodox churches. The most noteworthy is the Piast Church. The former Uniate church stands on Cathedral Mountain. It is surrounded by a complex of religious buildings that were once a bishops’ palace and a monastery. Chełm’s star attraction and a unique tourist route are its underground chalk tunnels that run under the city for two kilometers at a depth of 27 meters. The route leads through old chalk passages hewn out by hand. A ghost known as Bieluch sometimes appears as visitors pass through the galleries.
A former mine which had been worked for lead and silver. The mine was closed but the labyrinth of galleries, caverns and drainage tunnels remained open, and it was adapted to the requirements of tourists. Two underground tourist routes were arranged. The highlight, though, is a motorboat trip along the Black Trout Shaft, a part of the flooded drainage tunnels that were excavated as needs arose. There is also a Museum of mining and a skansen of steam engines. See also:Tarnowskie Góry Silver Mine website Accommodation in Tarnow
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