For seekers of treasures and mysterious stories from the past, the Sudetes and the Kłodzko Land are a true paradise. The region’s long history also includes the history of mining and an unusual human obsession with minerals.
Meet two places where a visit is chilling, but can also be – especially in the case of the gold mine in Złoty Stok – a great family adventure.
Złoty Stok – a gold mine
The town of Złoty Stok, located in close proximity to the Kłodzko Land, is home to an important gold-bearing area and one of the oldest mining and metallurgical centers in Central Europe. During the 700 years of operation of the local mine, 16 tons of pure gold were extracted from here.
Today the former mine is open to tourists. In the two main shafts you will see the entire process of extracting gold by metallurgical methods, as well as its leaching from the water. You will see a 10-meter underground waterfall and the unusually beautiful Ochrowa Adit on the side, which was filled with water for decades. After it was pumped out, the 300-year-old sidewalk appeared, glowing orange, yellow and red.
And to top it all off, later, you will be transported outside… by an orange streetcar!
Kletno – uranium mine
Shortly after World War II, Soviet authorities began intensive uranium exploration in the areas of the Sudetes annexed to satellite Poland. The raw material was needed by the Soviets to build the atomic bomb.
The Russians were impatient. Initially, they extracted uranium from heaps, but soon began to dig galleries. In just three years, they made 37 kilometers of workings on 9-10 levels – including three shafts, 27 adits and numerous side workings – at the mine in Kletno near Śnieżnik. In a very short time they extracted 20 tons of pure uranium.
In the top-secret mine, Polish workers worked under murderous conditions. Disease and accident statistics were not kept, but there were certainly many. At least half of those employed at the mine complained in later years of respiratory ailments or skin coming off…
Today, this dark place tucked away in the forest under the mountain is open to the public. Years after mining, radiation levels remain low and it is perfectly safe to visit.