Sutoris Shaft Salt Mine, Bochnia

You are by the building of the top of the Sutoris shaft. If you want to visit the Bochnia Salt Mines, the oldest salt mines in Poland, a UNESCO World Heritage site, go to 15 Campi Street. Descents into the mine go through the Campi shaft. You can buy tickets online or on-site at the ticket office.

The Sutoris shaft is the oldest active shaft in Polish mining. It was built in the mid-13th century, before the city was founded. It is considered (along with the no longer existing Gazaris shaft) the first shaft of the Bochnia mine. Some justify this choice by referring to the legend about the discovery of rock salt in Bochnia. According to the legend, the discovery was miraculous, thanks to the ring of the Hungarian princess Kunegunda (Kinga) who was married to the Polish prince Bolesław, later known as Bolesław Wstydliwy. Supposedly, Kinga threw the ring into the mine in Marmarosz that was given to her as dowry by her father, King Bela IV. Somehow, Kinga's ring was found together with the first-ever extracted few grains of Bochnia salt. The legend places this extraordinary event in a shoemaker's garden. The Latin word for 'shoemaker' is sutor – supposedly the source of the shaft's name, Sutoris, Shoemaker's, Shoemaker's Mountain (in Polish: szewc, Szewczy, Szewcza Góra). Indeed, the name of the shaft is clearly associated with a shoemaker or shoemakers, but for an entirely different reason. The earliest source mention of the shaft is from 1397 and references the name Szewcza Góra (lit. Shoemaker's Mountain). It turns out that in the 16th century, the shoemaker's guild – one of the largest and richest corporations active in Bochnia at the time – owned significant shares of this shaft's income. The initial depth of this shaft did not exceed 60 or 70 metres, that is, it reached the first level of the mine, known as the 'Danielowiec' level. Deeper deposits of salt were accessed using smaller internal shafts. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Sutoris was one of the main output shafts of the Bochnia mine. However, in the next century, it lost its importance due to the start of exploitation of easier-to-access salt deposits. Deeper deposits were only reached in the 18th century. Over the next few decades, significant amounts of salt were once again extracted through the Sutoris shaft. In 1829, the Sutoris shaft was used to reach the 'Wernier' level (138 m), a year later, the 'August' level (176 m), and at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the 'Gołuchowski' level (289 m). The top of the Sutoris shaft changed many times over the centuries, depending on the mining equipment used. 19th-century engravings clearly show the distinctive rotunda of the shaft building, where the hoist kierat was installed. It was built by the engineer Karol Kuczkiewicz. In 1874, the first steam-powered hoist in the Bochnia mine was installed above the Sutoris shaft. A new timber top-shaft and a boiler room with a tall chimney for generating steam were built during that time. The current top-shaft buildings were built in 1905–1906 according to the design – in a late-historicism style with art nouveau elements – by the Kraków architect Ferdynand Liebling. The steel constructions were made by Józef Górecki's company from Kraków. At the top of the main building, with the steel hoist tower, there is a bas-relief White Eagle on a red background. The shaft was renovated many times. The last major renovation took place in 1993–1995, replacing the tower and widening the shaft's opening. The formerly wooden casing in the lower section was replaced with concrete. The shaft has an elliptical cross-section with a large diameter of 4.5 m. Currently, a 1916 Siemens electric machine operates above the shaft. It was installed in 1954 in place of the steam machine that was destroyed during the Second World War. The thoroughly modernised machine is powered by a 75HP electric engine. It was previously used on the Górsko shaft in Wieliczka. In the past, around the area of the current Solna Street, there were two more shafts. The Hermolaus shaft was near today's small square of green that divides the road on Solna Street. The first mention of it comes from the 15th century. It was positioned between the Sutoris shaft and the Wielki shaft located in the north-eastern corner of the market square. It was used for extracting salt for a fairly short time because already in 1605, there are mentions of the cave-ins that it caused.

There was one more shaft – Kożuszka – between the Sutoris and Gazaris shafts on the corner between Solna Street and Pułaski Square. Interestingly, this is the shaft referred to in the earliest direct mention of the shafts in Bochnia. At the end of the 14th century it was already a closed shaft.

If you want to learn more, visit the oldest salt mine, the Bochnia Salt Mine. Go to 15 Campi Street.

Discover the beautiful history of salt mining!

Information on descents and online ticket sales:

Download free VisitMałopolska app
Apple iOS
Windows Phone

Related Assets