Bochnia [ˈbɔxɲa] (About this soundlisten) (German: Salzberg) is a town of 29,992 inhabitants on the river Raba in southern Poland. The town lies approximately in halfway [38 kilometres (24 mi)] between Tarnów (east) and the regional capital Kraków (west). Bochnia is most noted for its salt mine, the oldest functioning in Europe, built in the 13th century. Since Poland's administrative reorganization in 1999, Bochnia has been the administrative capital of Bochnia County in Lesser Poland Voivodeship. Before reorganization it was part of Tarnów Voivodeship.

Main square
Main square
Flag of Bochnia
Coat of arms of Bochnia
Coat of arms
Bochnia is located in Poland
Coordinates: 49°59′N 20°26′E / 49.983°N 20.433°E / 49.983; 20.433Coordinates: 49°59′N 20°26′E / 49.983°N 20.433°E / 49.983; 20.433
Country Poland
VoivodeshipLesser Poland
CountyBochnia County
GminaBochnia (urban gmina)
Established12th century
Town rights1253
 • MayorStefan Kolawiński
 • Total29.9 km2 (11.5 sq mi)
 • Total29,992
 • Density1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Area code(s)+48 14
Car platesKBC

The area of Bochnia (as for 2002) is 29.89 square kilometres (11.54 sq mi). The town is located along national roads 94 and 75. The A4 motorway European route E40 also passes to the north of the town. It also has a rail station. Bochnia is a stop on a strategic West – East line from Kraków to Medyka (former Galician Railway of Archduke Charles Louis).


Bochnia is one of the oldest cities of Lesser Poland. The first known source mentioning the city is a letter of 1198, in which Aymar the Monk, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, confirmed a donation by the local magnate Mikora Gryfit to the monastery of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów. The discovery of major deposits of rock salt at the site of the present mine in 1248 led to the grant of city privileges (Magdeburg rights) on 27 February 1253 by Bolesław V the Chaste. In the original founding document, the German name of the town (Salzberg) is mentioned as well, since many Bochnia's residents were German-speaking settlers from Lower Silesia.

Rock salt sculptures at the Bochnia Salt Mine

Due to its salt mine and favourable location, Bochnia, which belonged to Kraków Voivodeship, was one of main cities of Lesser Poland. In the 14th century, during the reign of King Casimir the Great, a town hall was built, a defensive wall with four gates, a hospital and shelter for miners, and the construction of St. Nicolas Basilica began. In appreciation of Casimir's influence on the development of Bochnia, monument to him was erected in town's market square in the late 19th century. In the 15th century, a school was opened, and in 1623, Bernardine Abbey was founded in Bochnia. At that time, many pilgrims from Lesser Poland and Silesia visited the town, to see a miraculous painting of St. Mary, kept at a local Dominican church.

In 1561 Bochnia burned down in a fire and its salt deposits were depleted, leading to the town's decline. In 1655 Bochnia was captured by the Swedes, in 1657 by the Transylvanians, and in 1662, by the Cossacks. By the 1660s, there were only 54 houses still standing. In 1702, the town was destroyed in the Great Northern War. Fires caused further damage in 1709 and 1751. In 1772, Bochnia was annexed by the Austrian Empire, and remained part of Galicia until 1918. The Austrians liquidated both abbeys, and tore down the town hall together with the defensive wall. In 1867, Bochnia County was created and the town began a slow recovery spurred by construction of the Galician Railway of Archduke Charles Louis. In 1886, first public library was opened, in the late 19th century, the waterworks, and in 1913, a movie theater.

In the Second Polish Republic, Bochnia belonged to Kraków Voivodeship and was the capital of a county. The town housed a small garrison of the Polish Army, with 3rd Silesian Uhlans Regiment stationed there from 1924. On September 6/7, 1939, Bochnia was defended by several Polish units. One of the first mass executions in occupied Poland took place in the town: the Germans shot 52 Poles as a reprisal for killing two German police officers.

World War IIEdit

Execution of 56 Polish hostages in Bochnia during German occupation of Poland, December 18, 1939

At the outbreak of World War II, an estimated 3,500 Jews lived in Bochnia, comprising about 20% of the total population.[1] During the German occupation of Poland, Bochnia was the site of a Jewish ghetto (the Bochnia Ghetto) to which Jews from surrounding areas were forced to move by the Nazis. The entire Jewish community was murdered in the Holocaust apart from 200 forced laborers employed at a plant headed by Gerhard Kurzbach, a Wehrmacht soldier, who ordered them to work overtime and thereby saved them from deportation.[2] It is estimated that approximately 15,000 Jews were deported from Bochnia, with at least a further 1,800 killed in the town and its surroundings.[1] About 90 Jews from Bochnia survived the war, either in hiding, in camps or in the Soviet Union. Most of them immigrated to the US, Brazil, Belgium, and Israel.

In 1944, the 12th Home Army Infantry Regiment was established in Bochnia. In April 1943, Witold Pilecki hid there after his escape from Auschwitz. In Communist Poland, Bochnia grew larger, with several villages incorporated into the town, mostly in the 1970s. In 1975, Bochnia belonged to Tarnów Voivodeship, and in 1984, a by-pass of the European route E40 was completed, redirecting the traffic from congested center of the town.

The Jewish family of Tiders expelled from Zaborowo in 1940 were murdered in Brześć with children except for their oldest son, 24-year-old Mendel Tider, who paved the road to Tamowo on German orders at the time of the killings. He escaped to Bochnia where he met Józef Langdorf from his neighbourhood. Together, they escaped back to Zaborowo and found refuge at the farm of the Mika family of six. Both survived, treated like relatives and fed for free until liberation. In 2000 the three members of the Mika family were bestowed the titles of the Righteous thanks to Mrs Langdorf from Israel. Stefan Mika was 73, and living in Kraków; the other two, father and mother, were already dead for several decades.[3]


An underground church in the Bochnia Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St. Nicholas' Basillica in Bochnia at night

Salt mineEdit

The Bochnia Salt Mine (Polish: kopalnia soli w Bochni) is one of the oldest salt mines in the world and the oldest one in Poland and Europe. The mine was established between the 12th and 13th centuries after salt was discovered in Bochnia. The mines measure 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) in length and 468 metres (1,535 feet) in depth at 16 different levels. Deserted chambers, shafts and passages form a so-called underground town, which is now open to sightseers. The largest of the preserved chambers has been converted into a sanatorium.


Construction of the Osiedle XXX-lecia housing estate, 1981

Bochnia Academy of Economics (Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna w Bochni) is a privately owned collegiate-level institution of higher education in the city, founded in 2000. It grants bachelor's degrees (licencjat) in two fields of knowledge - Finance and Accounting, and Economics.[4]

Notable residentsEdit

Twin towns — sister citiesEdit

Bochnia is twinned with:


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Bochnia Ghetto". Retrieved 2013-03-10.
  2. ^ Ofer Aderet (November 30, 2012). "Yad Vashem Archives Rediscover Heroic Rescue". Haaretz.
  3. ^ Magdalena Zawadzka (November 2010). "The Mika Family". Recognized as the Righteous Among the Nations in 2000. Polscy Sprawiedliwi - Przywracanie Pamięci, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  4. ^ Strefa Studenta. Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna w Bochni (homepage). Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "Oficiálne stránky mesta Kežmarok". Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.

External linksEdit