Bochnia Salt Mine
Much earlier – from around 3500 B.C. – salt was obtained here by evaporating water from brine, extracted from specially bored wells. Such wells were the seeds of, among others the Sutoris shaft that still exists today. It is with the Sutoris shaft that the legend of the ring of St. Kinga. When a real mine was established here, the Bochnia County, managed from the Saltworks Castle in Wieliczka, quickly began to bring huge profits to the royal treasury. Next to the Sutoris and Gazaris shafts, new ones were built: Regis, Bochneris and Campi. The enterprise, until 1772, when it was seized by Austria as a result of the First Partition of Poland, operated according to the statute issued in 1368 by King Kazimierz Wielki. Thanks to salt deposits, the city of Bochnia became one of the most important economic centres of Medieval Małopolska. With each passing century, the Salt Mine clearly influenced the history of the city, its urban development, but also the history of entrepreneurship, the development of industry and society. In the mine in Bochnia, innovative, for those times, technical solutions were introduced. These included treadmills serving as hoisting machines and a steam engine installed in 1930, manufactured in 1909 in Huta Laura in Chorzów. The Bochnia salt deposit has been explored over a length of approximately 3.5 km and a maximum width of 200 m. Its shape resembles a lens in the horizontal and vertical sections. Such a structure is reflected in the exceptionally diversified and unprecedented shapes of chambers, created as a result of several centuries of exploitation of striped salt – the main and the most characteristic type of the mine's raw material, which is formed by alternating layers of grey and white salt. Today, the Mine is a unique tourist place, which receives over 200,000 visitors annually in its historic workings. The complex offers as many as four routes for visitors, which differ in form and degree of difficulty. Tourists can become acquainted with the history of the mine in an accessible way as part of the Underground Multimedia Exposition, which is an extraordinary journey through the most beautiful and interesting pits with unique chambers and underground chapels, experience an extreme adventure during the historic "Wyprawy w Stare Góry” (Expedition to the Old Mountains) or see fluorescent salt crystals as part of a nature route. You can visit the Bochnia miners' chapels. The attractions of the mine include: an underground mine railway transporting tourists along the tourist route and a 140 m long slide connecting the two levels of the mine. The Bochnia mine is the only salt mine in Poland with an underground boat crossing. Wooden boats sailing on a brine-flooded chamber are registered in the Polish Register of Shipping, just like ships sailing on the seas. The Ważyn chamber located in the Bochnia mine is the largest chamber available to tourists. It houses a sports field, a restaurant and a mini playground for children. The mine offers overnight stays for organised groups and individual guests. An overnight stay in a unique salt scenery and a unique microclimate reveals a completely new meaning to the participants of the words "healthy sleep". The natural beauty and the raw, authentic character of the mine have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The mine, as the oldest salt mine in Poland, is also recognised as a historical monument.