The jewels that shine the brightest in Wieliczka’s crown, the Crystal Caves, were created by nature’s hand. All the other chambers were excavated by man. The humidity in the Crystal Caves causes the formation of beautiful “salt flowers,” stalactites, weird and wonderful extrusions and “cauliflower salt.” This too can be seen in The Salt of the Earth.
The history of Wieliczka Salt Mine began 20 million years ago when the Carpathian Mountains were formed. There was a sea at the time that gradually evaporated and left behind a salt cover. Once the Carpathians had settled, the salt cover was overturned and lumps of rock salt were scattered in the clay. For thousands of years, the salt was extracted from brine wells and springs, but as the supply dwindled people had to begin mining it.