Oh man, I am excited. One, I discovered what I’m about to share with you, and two, I found an offline draft when WordPress inexplicitly deleted the almost 3000 words I wrote on it. You can’t keep this information from the world WordPress! Or Wieliczka! It’s too important! So sit down and hold onto you hats, because what I am about to reveal is amazing!
Inna and I recently went to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a historical “salt mine” located in southeastern Poland. And while we toured the facilities, a tour that covered less than 1% of the mine (more on that later), we made an amazing discovery: Wieliczka isn’t a salt mine. The salt mine is a front; it actually is a school for witchcraft and wizardry.
That’s right, you read correctly. Wieliczka is to the Polish as Hogwarts is to the Brits. I know this sounds crazy, but if JK Rowling’s investigative journalism1 taught us anything, it is how to spot witchcraft and wizardry. And the evidence at Wieliczka is so overwhelming, I’m surprised no one discovered this before me.
Unfortunately, despite the incredible depth of Rowling’s investigation, because it centers on the first and second wizarding wars, wars that took place amongst British witches and wizards and solely on British soil, not much is know about wizarding communities outside of that world. We know they exist, as evidenced in Volume 4 of Rowling’s work, which documents a quadri-annual athletic competition between Hogwarts and schools from France (Beauxbatons) and Scandinavia (Durmastrang). That same volume also references a Brazilian wizarding school (Castelobruxo), this one revealed through a penpal relationship with one of the students at Hogwarts.2
Further research has uncovered a total of eleven major wizarding schools3, 4; in addition to the ones discussed above, schools have been discovered in the United States (Ilvermorny), Uganda (Uagadou), Russia (Koldovstoretz), and Japan (Mahoutokoro).3, 4, 5 Locations of the final three schools remain unknown, and I believe I found one of them, eight miles from Old Town Krakow.
I will now present evidence for this theory. All evidence comes from a “salt mine” tour Inna and I took on 28 April 2017 (why the wizards allow these tours I do not know, although I will speculate later); all pictures are taken from my Samsung Galaxy S4. No pictures were doctored, although I did switch between auto, night, richtone, and panorama modes.
Okay, lets begin. First up, some history.
According to Rowling’s research, Hogwarts was created around 990AD6, while Durmastrang and Beauxbatons were created sometime before the late 1200s7 and mid-1300s8, respectively. Wieliczka by comparison was created sometime in the 13th century9, meaning all were founded in the same historical era, the muggle high middle age10. If we assume that Wieliczka, in addition to the name of the fake salt mine, is also the name of this wizarding school, and if we also assume that Wieliczka was named after the school’s creator (Wieliczka does sound like the Polish version of Gryffindor/Slytherin/Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff, don’t you think?), the fact that this school was created by one wizard, not four, could explain the delay in its founding compared to Hogwarts.
Wieliczka being created in the 13th century also fits with my theory of why the school pretends to be a salt mine, and also why it allows muggles to conduct fake salt mine tours. I believe that shortly after Wieliczka was created, a muggle stumbled upon it. Wieliczka is not located in nearly as secluded a location as Europe’s other wizarding schools (I have no explanation as to why this is the case, although Polish wizards may have thought it unnecessary due to its underground location), making it entirely possible that a medieval era muggle could discover it.
Today, wizarding communities solve issues like this with Memory Charms (hence why locating wizarding communities is so difficult!), but if we review our history once more, we learn that the Memory Charm was not created until the late 16th/early 17th century11, meaning there were a good 300+ years that Wieliczka could have been discovered without the knowledge being memory charmed away.
Now, should a muggle stumble upon Wieliczka, you can imagine how he would react. News could easily spread faster than the wizarding community could contain it, leaving the wizarding community with limited options. They could come out to muggle society, something we know wizards have spent their whole history avoiding. They could kill or otherwise remove from society all persons aware of Wieliczka’s existence, but this seems an unlikely tactic for non-dark arts wizards. Another solution would be to move the school, but Wieliczka being located underground may have prevented this. They could also abandon the school and create a new one elsewhere, but I suspect the Polish wizards would not have favored this, as their school was already 300+ years behind the Brits.
There is an additional solution to the dilemma I believe the Polish wizards faced. They could create a front for their school, tricking muggles into believing it was something else. A salt mine would be a natural solution: they are underground, humans highly valued salt at the time and thus would not alter the mine, and salt is easy for wizards to create, allowing them to keep muggles distracted ad infinitum. Not only this, but salt is valueless to wizards and so they would have no problem giving it away, especially for a cause as important as hiding their very own existence.
Of course this all is speculation, and there are other potential explanations as to why Polish wizards have chosen to front their school as a salt mine. Perhaps the Polish wizarding community was reluctant to memory charm an entire society, and would rather adapt to having certain aspects of their society “known”. This may seem ridiculous until you consider that this appears to be both the British wizarding community’s response to Rowling’s revelations and the American wizarding community’s response to Warner Brothers’s latest wizarding world documentary5; best I can tell neither Rowling, nor anyone at Warner Brothers, nor any of their readers/movie-watchers have been memory charmed.
In the end I cannot definitely say why Wieliczka doubles as a salt mine. All I can say is that it does. I can also show you evidence proving this, which I will do now.
First, upon visiting Wieliczka, we were immediately told that the “mine” was ten stories deep, but tourists are only allowed to visit top three. This of course begs the question of what is below. And after our visit, when I reminded Inna of the mine’s ten story depth, she responded by saying “nein”. She responded this way every time I mentioned the mine’s ten story depth; all she would say was “nein nein nein nein”. Why she would contradict me in German I do not know, but I suspect she may have been under the Imperiatus curse. She had been complaining of faintness and dizzy spells throughout the day, and this was something we were at a loss to explain until we considered dark magic (don’t worry, Inna slept the curse off and is fine now).
Despite only being allowed to visit a small portion of Wieliczka, Inna and I found ample evidence that the mine is actually a wizarding school.
To begin, look at this:
Ask yourself: why would a salt mine have a banquet hall? Why would it have one this fancy? And why would it be laid out just like at Hogwarts? Coincidence? I think not!
Here is another piece of wizarding evidence I found at Wieliczka:
Looks like the opposite end of platform 9 3/4, don’t you think? I suspect this is where Wieliczka’s students emerge after leaving the muggle world, and from here they board their version of the Hogwarts Express (Wieliczka Express?) to their underground school. Unfortunately, upon inspecting Platform 9 at the Krakow train station, I found no magical entry points. However, considering that Britain’s Platform 9 3/4 is in London, while Hogwarts is all the way in Scotland, and it was probably silly for me to think Wieliczka’s Platform 9 3/4 equivalent would be so close to the school. Not to mention the fact that it may not even be 9 3/4, it could be 8 3/4, 7 3/4, 6 3/4, or something else entirely; more investigation definitely needs to be done on this issue.
This picture was taken from the same location as above, only in a different direction. Here we have a better angle of the Wieliczka Express, which I imagine is using some kind of spell to make is look less impressive than it actually is. That or this is a decoy train, meant to fool tourists, with the actual Wieliczka Express only coming out when in use by the school.
The above staircase is how Inna and I entered Wieliczka. This may very well be the entrance that muggles discovered hundreds of years ago, the entrance the wizards of Wieliczka convinced muggles was a salt mine.
If you are wondering why a wizarding school would have a non-magical entrance, let me remind you that Hogwarts employed a squib1 who would have required his own non-magical entrance. It is entirely possible that Wieliczka was in a similar situation.
Wieliczka is filled with statues like these. Have you ever seen anything like them? Our tour guide claimed they were made out of rock salt, but can you imagine a statue made out of salt? I can’t. I think these statues are the work of magic; I even suspect that as soon as muggle tours end, these statues come alive and start roaming about, much like Rowling discovered the paintings do at Hogwarts.
This seals the deal for me: the statues in Wieliczka are equivalent to the paintings at Hogwarts.
These statues do beg the question: how do the tour guides not notice them in different positions each day? Do the statues return to the same position in the same location every morning? Are the tour guides memory charmed at the end of each day? Or, is it possible, could Wieliczka’s tour guides be in on the front? Could they be aware of the mine’s true purpose? Might they even be witches and wizards themselves?
Did Inna and I meet a witch and not even know it? It was dark inside Wieliczka and witches and wizards can blend in so well these days… You know, reviewing the above picture, it does look like she has a wand in her hand…
If you’ll allow me, I’d like to speculate again. The above statue is of Pope John Paul II. Do you think, could John Paul II have been a wizard? Our guide told us that locals saw John Paul II enter Wieliczka several times as a child, and he even wished to return late in his life, but ill health prevented him. We know that wizards have strong ties to the schools they were educated in, and so what makes more sense to you, that the pope would want to re-visit his alma matter at the end of his life, or some random mine?
Anyways, for my next piece of evidence:
During this portion of our tour, our tour group heard two loud explosions, explosions that had no business occurring in an already-constructed mine, especially one that now serves as a tourist attraction. Our tour guide claimed these explosions were part of an exhibit demonstrating how miners removed methane when constructing the mine, a ridiculous notion (think about how dangerous this would be) but also amazingly convenient, as today there is no methane left to test their claim.
Of course, a simpler explanation is that somewhere near here is the Defense Against the Dark Arts class. I think this whole exhibit was created to explain the noises coming from that classroom.
Sorry guys, but there is no way this makes sense in a salt mine. Could this be where Wieliczka holds their version of the Yule Ball? Even if not, I can think of countless uses for a room like this, and every single one makes more sense in a wizarding school compared to a salt mine.
Our tour group entered this room twice, the top photograph taken during our first visit and the bottom photograph taken during out second. Notice how the ramp is in a different position in each photograph? This is just like the staircases at Hogwarts and I can think of no way besides magic that a ramp can change positions like this.
Also, the views from that ramp must be amazing, and yet we didn’t go there on our tour. There must be a reason…
This picture was taken in the same room as the two photographs that preceeded it. What exactly is going on here? What is that weird light? DID I CATCH SOMEONE CASTING A SPELL????
Also, if you think the above is not real, let me remind you, I did not doctor any of these pictures at all.
I don’t know what this is, but it just seems magical to me. A room with no discernible purpose, built using methods and materials muggles definitely would not have access to (muggles got these logs down that super-compact staircase entrance? Yeah right!). And a chandelier? We know that wizards love chandeliers…
I’m not sure what the above room is, but I also know that had I discovered Hogwarts before reading Rowling’s works, I would have no idea what many of the rooms in that school were. I believe this is Wieliczka’s version of one of those rooms.
Wieliczka claims these are salts, but have you even seen salts like these? Blue salts? Pink? Peach? Please! I think these are some of the ingredients from Wieliczka’s potions class, what do you think?
Come on wizards, you’re not even trying here. Like salt can do this without magic.
Finally, check out these pictures: a castle-like passageway, sparkling hallways, and an underwater passageway! Do these seem like characteristics of a salt mine to you?
Okay, by now I’ve given lots of evidence that Wieliczka really is a school of witchcraft and wizardry, not a salt mine. But if you’re still not on board, I’ve saved my best evidence for the end.
This is the crest for Wieliczka. If you think it is weird that a salt mine would have a crest, I agree. But compare this to:
It’s basically the same thing!
Mines don’t have crests, but wizarding schools do. So you tell me what Wieliczka’s crest means to you.
And finally, here is my last piece of evidence. If this doesn’t convince you, nothing will:
This video was made to advertise Wieliczka’s salt mine tours to muggles. But you don’t even watch the whole thing; just check out 0:15. IT’S A FREAKING WIZARD!!!! HOW MUCH MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED?
I have now shown all the evidence I have that Wieliczka is a wizarding school and not a salt mine. If you are still reading, my guess is I’ve convinced you. But even if I haven’t, I still highly highly highly recommend you visit this place. Everything is so magical here, I have no doubt that after visiting you’ll be in complete agreement about the true nature of this “mine”. And if you find additional evidence of magic/witchcraft/wizardry on your visit, make sure to share it with the world!
- Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter. Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, NY, 1998-2007.
- Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, NY, 2002.
- Wizarding Schools, Pottermore. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Wizarding School, Harry Potter Wikia. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dir. David Yates, Warners Brothers, 2016. Film.
- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter Wikia. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Durmstrang Institute, Harry Potter Wikia. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Harry Potter Wikia. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage Convention, 1978. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- The Dynamic Culture of the Middle Ages, International World History Project, 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
- Memory Charm, Harry Potter Wikia. Retrieved 27 April 2017.