Chelmskie Podziemia Kredowe

Chelm Chalk Mine


Useful Information

photography
Chelm Chalk Mine, Poland. Public Domain.
photography
Chelm Chalk Mine, Poland. Public Domain.
photography
Chelm Chalk Mine, Poland. Public Domain.
Location: Chelm, ul Lubelska 55a (in town centre)
(51.133015, 23.471292)
Open: JAN to JUN daily 10, 12, 14, 16.
JUL to AUG daily 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.
SEP to DEC daily 10, 12, 14, 16.
Office: All year Mon-Fri 9-17, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-16.
[2021]
Fee: Adults PLN 20, Children PLN 15, Students (-26) PLN 15, Seniors PLN 15.
Audioguide PLN 9.
Groups (15+): Adults PLN 20, Children PLN 15, Students (-26) PLN 15, Seniors PLN 15.
[2021]
Classification: MineLimestone Mine chalk mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=15 km, T=9 °C, H=70-80%.
Guided tours: D=50 min., L=2,000 m.
Audioguide in English V=35000/a [2019] V=4500/a [2020]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Podziemia Kredowe w Chełmie, ul. 55A Lublin, 22-100 Chełm, Tel: +48-82-565-2530. E-mail: E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

16th cty chalk mining started.
19th cty chalk mining ended.
1972 opened to the public.
1985 renovated and current shape of the tourist route created.
1994 listed in the register of monuments.

Description

The Podziemia Kredowe w Chełmie (Chalk Underground in Chełm) is a system of tunnels dug into the chalk under the city of Chełm in eastern Poland. The city Chełm is located about 60 km east of Lublin, close to the Ukrainian border. Below the city is a layer of Cretaceous chalk, which is soft but stable and was used to dig cellars. Between the 16th and 19th century the chalk was actually mined, and various mines were becoming bigger and finally connected. The removed chalk was used for various purposes, including for chalk to write on black-boards.

During World War II the cellars were transformed into air raid shelters for the citizens by connecting them. So it was possible to to leave the shelter through another cellar if one entrance was blocked by a destroyed house.

Since 1972 about 2 km of the cellars are publicly accessible as a tourist attraction. They are called Chelmskie Podziemia Kredowe (Chelm Chalk Underground). The ticket office with souvenir shop is located in the center of the town west of the church and the Muzeum Chełmskie in a small park. It also contains a small museum with geological, archaeological and historical exhibitions. The passages extend under the main road and the market place, and end below a restaurant. Visitors can leave the tunnel here through the restaurant, if they are very hungry... The tunnels also include four chambers which are almost 5 m high, which are a result of collapses in the mines. The tour covers three distinct complexes of corridors (labyrinths) connected by younger tunnels.

The site was listed in the register of monuments as a unique remnant of chalk mining in 1994. Sometimes they are said to be uniques or the only of this kind, but thats obviously untrue. Chalk mines are rare but some can be found along the Loire in France and in southern Great Britain.

In pre-Christian times, at the top of Chełmska Góra, under three great oaks, in a chalk cave, a huge brown bear lived. From the chalk walls of the cave it acquired a beautiful white color. The inhabitants of the castle slowly got used to this peculiar neighbor. Initially, they treated the vicinity of huge wild animals with respect and care. A shrine was built next to it, where pagan gods were worshiped, and young priestesses guarded the eternal holy fire. Once, unexpectedly, wild invaders attacked the inhabitants of Chełm and wanted to steal the holy fire. They burned down the estate and the defenders succumbed, but the white bear appeared and defeated the attackers. After the fight, the bear stood for a moment between three oaks, tired from the fight. The setting sun painted the trees and the animal golden with thanksgiving.

There is a maze of passages under the city of Chelm (pronounced Hewm) which date back to the 16th century. The workings are on different levels and frequently broke into adjacent workings. The result is a confusing labyrinth of passages extending to 20 m below the earth's surface.

There are permanent exhibitions of archaeology and chalk mining. Theatre performances, musical and cabaret shows are put on for special occasions.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.