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wieliczka-salt-mine-poland-1 The Poles aren’t a very practical people. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was one of the largest countries in Europe, but within 200 years, it was gone. One of the many causes for their downfall was something called the Liberum veto.

This veto allowed any member of their legislature to block any legislation with a single vote. All a foreign power had to do was bribe one guy, any guy, and he could effectively block anything from being passed. According to legend, legislation was even stopped by a sneeze when this was interpreted as an exercise of the veto.

Like I said, not the most practical people on the planet.

The sheer oddness of the Poles doesn’t end with their government, but also extends to some of their mines. Just outside Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It’s now on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, and it was first started in the 13th century. And if you’re thinking this is just any old salt mine, consider first that it was a Polish mine.

Rather than simply digging salt out of the ground like normal people, the Poles stopped and painstakingly carved over 2,000 chambers on nine levels. Many of the rooms are dotted by chapels, statues and even a full cathedral where everything, even the chandeliers, are made of salt.

Only about one percent of the mine is open to visitors, but that still equals about two-and-a-half miles of rooms and tunnels. If you ever find yourself in Poland, you might want to check it out. After all, you never know when the Poles may decide to do something else with the place and turn it into a snail sanctuary or something.

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