Treasures of the earth

Amber, a fossilized resin from coniferous trees which also has therapeutic properties, has been collected on the shores of the Baltic Sea since at least the 1st century B.C. In the times of the Roman Empire, merchants came to Gdansk from the Mediterranean basin in search of amber. The History of Amber exhibit at the Malbork Castle Museum presents marvellous examples of amber and amber jewellery.

Europe’s oldest salt mine is located in Wieliczka, where 25 million tonnes of salt have been mined over the last 1,000 years. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is in operation to this day. Due to the therapeutic microclimate, exhausted mine shafts are used as sanitarium facilities today. Conferences and balls are also held in the subterranean chambers. There is even an underground restaurant. Unused excavation sites have also been adapted to house a mining museum with objects dating as far back as the 11th century. The caves and several chapels are decorated with numerous salt sculptures. The most unusual site is a 17th-century underground church, within which everything is carved from salt – from the chandeliers to the figure of its patron saint, St. Kinga.