Discover the Stunning St. Kinga's Chapel at the Wieliczka Salt Mine
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St. Kinga’s Chapel in Wieliczka Salt Mine

Just a short bus ride from Krakow, in the town of Wieliczka, lays one of the most unique churches in Europe. An underground St. Kinga’s Chapel awaits you in the Wieliczka Salt Mine Museum. It features salt chandeliers, intricate sculptures and art left behind by many generations of artists. Nowadays, you can visit it as part of the Tourist Route in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

The history of Chapel of St. Kinga

St. Kinga’s Chapel is located within the mine’s second level, or about 101 meters underground. It’s 12 meters tall, 18 m wide and 54 meters long.

Contrary to popular belief, Saint Kinga’s Cathedral is actually a fairly recent development in the mine. The construction work was finished in 1896. It’s a culmination of almost 200 years of work, with the final sculptures completed in the late 20th century.

In case you’re seeking more interesting facts about the mine, check out our full Wieliczka Salt Mine tour guide.

The incredible art of Saint Kinga’s Chapel

The Salt Mine in Krakow Cathedral was designed to be a celebration of the mine’s impressive history. It has taken dozens of talented artists to get this underground chapel to the place it’s at today. Here are some of the most iconic pieces to appreciate within the St. Kinga’s Chapel:

Main Altar

Wieliczka salt mine chapel

The single most important part of the chapel is the grand altar located opposite to the entrance. As most of the decor found there, it’s carved right into salt rock. It’s a three-part altar, featuring sculptures of the most important patrons for Wieliczka miners: St. John, St. Clemens and St. Kinga herself. 

In 1994, a relic of St. Kinga was placed in a compartment inside the altar.

The Last Supper Relief 

fresco of last supper in salt

You’ll find several other low reliefs on the walls of the cathedral, but this one is the most well-known. It was carved by Antoni Wyrodek, who was using Leonardo da Vinci’s rendition of the event as inspiration.

Statue of John Paul II

The only salt sculpture of the late Polish pope occupies the space between the staircases leading to the cathedral. The similarity is quite striking, especially since the sculpture is human sized.  

Krakow Salt Mine Cathedral – religious and musical events

Due to its incredible acoustics, Chapel of St. Kinga has seen its fair share of concerts and musical events. Many talented acts have visited the premises, including Nigel Kennedy, Blackmore’s Night, and Amarcord.

Meet Saint Kinga – patron of salt miners from Hungary

Saint Kinga was a Hungarian princess and the Duchess of Krakow back in the 13th century. According to legend, she is the one who found the salt deposits in Wieliczka and Bochnia. You’ll find a depiction of her story inside the Janowice Chamber in Wieliczka. 

Discover the legend of Krakow salt mines

When Kinga was to marry Duke Bolesław V the Chaste, she asked her father for a dowry of salt. She believed that Bolesław didn’t need gold or jewels, as his nation was already rich and prosperous. So before leaving for Poland, she prayed to God and left her engagement ring in the mine shaft of Maramureș.

Before leaving for Krakow, she took on some Hungarian miners as attendants for the journey. When they reached Bolesław’s domain, she ordered them to dig down at a location chosen by her. Sure enough, they found solid rock salt underneath the dirt.

St. Kinga’s miracle

Janowice Chamber

The statues at Janowice Chamber portray a miner handing Kinga the first lump of Wieliczka salt. Right then, a miracle happened – Kinga pulled out her own ring from inside the rock.

Everyone came to a conclusion that the princess had convinced God to move the Hungarian salt deposits to Poland. Because of this miracle, Kinga was revered by the populace as a miracle worker. 700 years later, Pope John Paul II canonised her during his visit to Stary Sącz, where she was buried.

Visit Wieliczka Salt Mine – an original UNESCO World Heritage Site

Royal Salt Mine in Wieliczka is one of Poland’s greatest tourist attractions. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is an absolute must-see when going on a holiday to Krakow. Here at KrakowDirect, we’re passionate about creating premium tours and helping you create some awesome memories during your stay. Explore everything Wieliczka has to offer, or take a tour to Auschwitz and Salt Mine in one day.

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