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Kowary – secret uranium mines

This is not a story from a Hollywood Cold War thriller, but it could easily be one.

Shortly after World War II, the Soviet Union began brutal exploitation of resources from Silesia, seized from the Germans for the benefit of satellite, communist Poland. The Soviets were particularly attracted to the Sudetes mineral wealth, including uranium, which was rare but essential in the production of atomic technology.

Strictly secret exploitation of the deposits in Kowary continued throughout the 1950s. At the time, the entire town near the mines was a restricted zone. Stories about miners struggling for years with radiation sickness (in fact, they suffered mainly from pneumoconiosis) have gone down in history. It is said that the uranium mined in Kowary would be enough for 200 atomic bombs!


There are two old uranium mines in Kowary with accessible tours of about 1.5 km: Liczyrzepa and Podgórze. The level of radioactivity is constantly monitored using sensors, and it is completely safe to visit. When visiting the town, you can see the eclectic building of the “Wysoka Łąka” hospital – an exclusive sanatorium from the early 20th century, which could boldly star in the movie Grand Budapest Hotel (in fact, Wes Anderson’s cult picture was mostly filmed in nearby German Görlitz).

Uranium mine “Podgórze” (website in Polish, possible tour in English – phone contact recommended)


Uranbergwerk "Podgórze"

Kowary – secret uranium mines