Main square

Coat of arms
Coordinates: 49°59′N 20°26′E / 49.983°N 20.433°E / 49.983; 20.433
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Lesser Poland
County Bochnia County
Gmina Bochnia (urban gmina)
Established 12th century
Town rights 1253
  Mayor Stefan Kolawiński
  Total 29.9 km2 (11.5 sq mi)
Population (2006)
  Total 29,373
  Density 980/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 32-700
Area code(s) +48 14
Car plates KBC

Bochnia [ˈbɔxɲa] is a town of 30,000 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 c. 1248. 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.

The area of Bochnia (as for 2002) is 29.89 kilometres (18.57 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, where in Aymar the Monk, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, confirmed a donation by local magnate Mikora Gryfit to the monastery of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów. The discovery of a major occurrence of rock salt at the site of the present mine in 1248 led to the granting of city privileges (Magdeburg rights) on 27 February 1253 by Bolesław V the Chaste. In the original founding document, German name of the town (Salzberg) is mentioned as well, since many residents of Bochnia 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 Kazimierz Wielki, a town hall was built, a defensive wall with four gates, a hospital and shelter for miners, and construction of St. Nicolas Basilica began. In appreciation of Kazimierz Wielki’s influence on the development of Bochnia, his monument was erected on 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. In 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 was a small garrison of the Polish Army, with 3rd Silesian Uhlans Regiment stationed here since 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 II

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 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 USA, 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.


Bochnia Salt Mine. Underground church

Salt mine

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 five fields of knowledge.[3]

Notable residents

Twin towns — sister cities

Bochnia is twinned with:

See also


  1. 1 2 "Bochnia Ghetto". Retrieved 2013-03-10.
  2. Yad Vashem archives rediscover heroic rescue, Haaretz
  3. O Uczelni. Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna w Bochni (homepage). Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  4. "Oficiálne stránky mesta Kežmarok". Retrieved 8 February 2010.

Coordinates: 49°58′N 20°26′E / 49.967°N 20.433°E / 49.967; 20.433

External links

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