1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wieliczka
WIELICZKA, a mining town in Galicia, Austria, 220 m. by rail W. of Lemberg and 9 m. S.E. of Cracow. Pop. (1900) 6012. It is built on the slopes of a hill which half encircles the place, and over the celebrated salt-mines of the same name. These mines are the richest in Austria, and among the most remarkable in the world. They consist of seven different levels, one above the other, and have eleven shafts, two of which are in the town. The levels are connected by flights of steps, and are composed of a labyrinth of chambers and passages, whose length aggregates over 65 m. The length of the mines from E. to W. is 2⅓ m., the breadth from N. to S. is 1050 yds. and the depth reaches 980 ft. Many of the old chambers, some of which are of enormous size, are embellished with portals, candelabra, statues, &c., all hewn in rock-salt. There are also two large chapels, containing altars, ornaments, &c., in rock-salt, a room called the dancing saloon (Tanzsaal), where the objects of interest found in the mines are kept; the Kronleuchtersaal, and the chamber Michatovice are also worth mention. In the interior of the mines are sixteen ponds, of which the large lake of Przykos is 195 ft. long, 11o ft. broad, and 10-26 ft. deep. The mines employ over 1000 workers, and yield about 60,000 tons annually. The salt of Wieliczka is well known for its purity and solidity, but has generally a grey or blackish colour. The date of the discovery of the mines is unknown, but they were already worked in the 11th century. Since 1814 they have belonged entirely to the Austrian government. The mines suffered greatly from inundations in 1868 and 1879, and the soil on which the town is built shows signs of subsidence.