If opulent isn’t an adjective you’d immediately associate with the mining profession, then you’ve clearly never had a peek inside Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine. The subterranean marvel (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) has been operational since the first shafts were dug way back in the 13th century, but the decor has come a long, long way in the subsequent years. And now, thanks to Google, we can explore it from afar.
In addition to the more traditionally rugged excavation routes, Wieliczka’s underground landmark is home to elaborate chapels, crystallised chandeliers and art galleries, all carved out of common sodium chloride. The reverent treatment nods to a not-so-distant past where salt was a hot commodity, valued in a way that went way beyond a few casual sprinkles over dinner.
Visitors can take a hard-hat tour of the mine, but in lieu of an IRL visit (or for those who prefer to travel pants-less from the comfort of their own home), Wieliczka recently became the latest World Wonder to get the Google Street View treatment. It joins a veritable greatest hits of amazing spots around the globe being preserved in this incredibly accessible way. Quick click to an explorer’s hut in Antarctica abandoned since 1912? Heck Yeah. Scroll around the Cinque Terre villages that dot the Mediterranean sea? Yes please. Hold your breath at the unbelievable underwater views of the Great Barrier Reef? Go on.