The history of salt extraction in the Bochnia region dates back to 3,500 years B.C. Salt was acquired by evaporating water from brine. Brine wells gave way to excavating salt with the use of mining methods.
The beginnings of the Bochnia mine as an excavating plant date back to 1248. Being a royal facility, the mine generated a huge income. In 1368, King Casimir the Great issued a document referred to as the Saltworks Statute. It defined the organizational and legal principles for selling salt. The oldest Bochnia mining shafts are the Sutoris and Gazaris shafts. The Bochnia mine and the Sutoris Shaft that are mentioned in the legend on St. Kinga’s ring. The mine developed rapidly in 15th and 16th centuries. More shafts are constructed at that time, i.e. Regis , Bochneris, and Campi. In 17th century, due to wars and an economic decline, the plant’s development slowed down.
After 1771, the mine became part of the regions occupied by the Austrians. It remained under Austro-Hungarian control until 1918. In 20th century, salt mining decreased considerably due to its smaller profitability. In 1981, the mine was listed in the Polish register of historical monuments. In the 1990s, the Bochnia mine was opened for tourists and it has been operating as a tourist attraction ever since.
The Bochnia Salt Mine is the greatest treasure of the Bochnia region. Thanks to the salt deposits, the town of Bochnia became one of the most important economic centres of Medieval Małopolska. With each passing century, the Salt Mine continued to leave a distinct mark on the history of the city, its urban development but also the history of business initiatives, and industrial and social development. It is here, in the Bochnia mines, that the process of innovating salt excavation methods gave rise to the introduction of then novel technical solutions. These included treadmills used as hoisting machines and a steam engine, installed in 1930 and produced in 1909 in the Laura Steelworks in Chorzów.