The Wieliczka Salt Mine (Polish: Kopalnia soli Wieliczka), located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, lies within the Kraków metropolitan area. The mine, built in the 13th century, produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world's oldest salt mines still in operation. From its beginning and throughout its existence, the Royal mine was run by the Żupy krakowskie Salt Mines. Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low salt prices and mine flooding. The mine's attractions include dozens of statues, three chapels and an entire cathedral that has been carved out of the rock salt by the miners. The oldest sculptures are augmented by the new carvings by contemporary artists.
The Wieliczka salt mine reaches a depth of 327 metres and is 288 kilometres long. A wooden staircase with 378 steps provides access to the 64 metres level of the mine. There is a 3 kilometres tour of the mine's corridors, chapels, statues and lake, 135 metres underground. An elevator provides access to the surface. The elevator holds 36 people (9 per car) and takes some 30 seconds to reach the surface. About 1.2 million people visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine annually.
The Wieliczka mine is often referred to as "the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland." In 1978 it was placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites.