Bochnia is a small town near Krakow, well known as being the location of the oldest production workings in Europe with a salt mine opening around the year 1248. It might not be as impressive as the one in Wieliczka, but it is still worth a visit, even if just for the spa centre located inside the mines. Besides the salt mine, Bochnia has a number of attractions above ground as well, one of them being the historic Old Town, exuding a quaint charm of its own.
The salt mine in Bochnia is Poland’s oldest, having been in constant operation for 750 years. A couple of years ago the mine was opened to the public, enabling everyone to explore the 300-meter-long network of corridors and fascinating, underground chambers.
Bochnia lies in the central part of Lesser Poland, on the Raba River, which makes it a great starting point to explore various places of interest in the Beskidy Mountains. There is a great deal of varied landscape near the town, including the endless plains that are home to the Niepolomicka Forest, the Wieliczka Foothills with the Wisnicko-Lipnicki Landscape Park as well as the Beskid Wyspowy Mountains.
Among the oldest towns of Lesser Poland, Bochnia was first described in 1198 in a letter by Aymar the Monk, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, where he acknowledged a donation from local magnate Mikora Grufit to the monastery of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechow. At the time Bochnia was a settlement of miners that, owing to its location next to important merchant routes, was enjoying thriving trade relations.