Polish Language Blog

Gold in Poland? Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Culture, Places to visit

Did you know that in the second half of 16th century gold mines on the territory of today Poland produced 8% of European gold? Today there is a gold mine – museum there – in Złoty Stok (meaning Golden Slope), Southwestern Poland. The only Polish gold mine which still brings a profit! It is owned by Elżbieta Szumska, a brave, energetic and young woman who invested lots of money to re-open it. After five years of reconstructions, May 28th 1996 the Underground Tourist Route „Gold Mine” was opened and is ready for business. Now, if you ever were in this area sign for 90 minutes tour which would show you many shafts working there since medieval times. The tour includes also narrow gauge ride. This gold mine was still active after World War II, but it produced only 20-30 kilograms of gold per year, that means a couple of ounces per day.

In 2008 the richest deposits of gold in Europe were found in Poland. They were found in Lower Silesia, near the copper mine area. Since the deposits are located even below copper deposits, its exploitation would have to wait.

Gold was very important everywhere in the world, also in Poland. It was used for production of the golden coins. The name of Polish currency “złoty” comes from the word “złoty” means “golden”.

Probably many of you tried or at least is aware that it is possible to buy vodka with golden flakes. Did you wonder how much more does it cost since it contains a precious gold? Its price is not any different from the vodka bottle without any golden flakes.

Why? When we take into account unusual properties of gold. Gold is a metal, which is the most malleable and ductile from all known metals. It can be stretched and stretched into very thing foils. We all use Aluminum foil which is very thin, therefore we can bend it, tear it and use as a wrapping paper in spite of the fact that this is a metal. Aluminum foil is thinner than human hair. Its thickness is usually between 0.2-0.006 mm. Since gold can be stretched even more, gold foil called gold leaf is even thinner, about 800 times thinner than Aluminum. Golden foil which is sometimes used only to cover other metals and protect them form rusting can be as thin as few atomic layers. Such thin foil was used in famous Rutherford experiment to find properties of atom about hundred years ago.

Gold is also very inert, it does not react with our body and is safe to digest. Therefore we can drink it and it will just go through our body without any side effects.

How many of you knew that the first vodka with flakes of gold was made in Polish city of Gdańsk about 400 years ago? So, we should be proud that there is a Polish connection to the precious gold in vodka bottle.

In that time Gdańsk, then known better by its German name, Danzig, was a very international city. This golden drink was introduced by a Dutchman, Ambrosius Vermöllen, who became later a citizen of Danzig. It was called Goldwasser which means “gold water” in German. The vodka with gold flakes became popular around the world, it was also very popular among miners during gold rush in America.

Have you ever tried it? Does it taste  different than plain vodka?

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)


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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Karola:

    My father had a bottle of Goldwasser. I don’t think we ever drank any of it. I do remember that it was a good conversation piece when we had visitors. So long ago I don’t know what happened to it. 🙂