Thousands of people from all over the world are asking to come to a 1,000 year-old salt mine near Cracow, Poland, in the hope of being cured of bronchial asthma and other respiratory ailments.
CU Letters (4 shots)
CU Dr. Skylimowski opens & reads letter (2 shots)
CU Sign "Sanitorium"
CU & GV People wearing protective helmets enter mine (3 shots)
SV Patients walk along tunnel
CU Small boy
GV People in tunnel
CU PAN Rock
SCU Nurse carrying boy into ward
LV Ward in cavern
LV & CU Doctor walks round talking to patients (4 shots)
GV INT Beds packed into cavern.
LV Miners work on rock face
SCU & CU Miners drilling
CU Rock pouring into truck
SV Engine pull trucks through tunnel
GV INT Tunnel
GV Tourists inside cavern
LV & CU Statue on altar
LV & CU Tourists look at sculptured walls
GV Miners in boats studying rock
CU Crystallised rock
CU Miner looks at rock
CU Crystals on roof
Initials BB/1704 JL/PW/BB/1801
N.B. This film was made available by Polish Television. The mining scenes were shot in 1962, while the footage of the health wards was shot in 1967.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Thousands of people from all over the world are asking to come to a 1,000 year-old salt mine near Cracow, Poland, in the hope of being cured of bronchial asthma and other respiratory ailments. The Wieliczka Mine is also visited by 250,000 tourists each year. Chapels, concert and sports halls, as well as sanatorium wards, have been hewn out of the green-white rock slat of the mine. Tourists can walk through nearly three kilometres (two miles) of underground corridors, gazing at the crystalline formations and spiky stalactites, as well as sculptures and statues carved out of the raw salt by craftsmen.
Two caves have been transformed into a sanatorium equipped with 35 beds. Doctors say the air in the mine, and the curative properties of small salt-water lakes, have helped many people suffering from respiratory disease.
At lower levels, salt is still extracted by modern evaporation methods, but rock salt mining was discontinued in 1965.
SYNOPSIS: These letters, from all over the world, are from people requesting a bed in a new sanatorium for those afflicted with respiratory ailments. The sanatorium is unique in that it lies beneath the earth--in a one-thousand year-old salt mine near Cracow.
The Wieliczka Mine has been visited by tourists for many years. Doctors discovered, however, that the air in the mine and the small salt-water lakes in the mine, had curative properties--especially for those suffering from respiratory diseases such as bronchial asthma. Many have found relief in the mine, when conventional drugs and treatments failed. Unfortunately the number of beds is limited, and doctors must refuse almost all requests from abroad.
Two caves, more than two-hundred metres beneath ground level, have been transformed into a sanatorium ward. At present there is room for only thirty-five beds, but there is still a great deal of area in the mine where the sanatorium can be expanded. The patients here, under doctors' and nurses' care, generally stay from four to seven weeks. Usually after several hours, the patients feel some relief.
Salt has been mined at Wieliczka since the eleventh century. Salt mining, as seen here, was discontinued in 1965; but salt is still extracted by modern evaporation methods at lower levels.
Aside from the sanatorium, the mine is also somewhat of a marvel for tourists. More than two-hundred and fifty-thousand people visit the area each year. They can walk through nearly three kilometres of underground corridors. Chapels, concert and sports halls have been hewn out of the rock salt in the mine. Miners started the tradition of carving likenesses of saints in the salt chambers, presumably as a protection from the danger of rock slides and fires.
In addition to the man-made sculptures, visitors can also gaze at the stunning natural crystalline and stalactite formations in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.