Złoty Stok is a small town of less than 3,000 people in southern Silesia, 77 km. south of Wrocław, and close to the border with the Czech Republic. Gold was first worked in the area in the early sixteenth century when the town was known, in German, as Reichenstein (the rich town), while the current Polish name means ‘the golden slope’. For a time Złoty Stok accounted for between 5 and 10 per cent of Europe’s output of gold, but in the eighteenth century less gold was produced and the emphasis turned to the extraction of arsenic ores. The mine was extensively modernised in the early twentieth century. It was undamaged in the Second World War and continued in production until 1961.
The restoration project began in 1991 and the mine was opened to visitors in 1996. There are displays about the history of gold mining in the galleries nearest to the entrance, after which visitors can undertake tours of the underground workings. The longer of the tours includes rides on a train and in a boat along a navigable level. The highlight is an illuminated underground waterfall, 10 m. in height, which is believed to be unique in Europe.