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Ciechocinek

The town of Ciechocinek can be found in the Aleksandrowski District in the Kujavian-Pomeranian Province, about 25km from the city of Torun. Because of its proximity to this European tourist gem, Ciechocinek benefits also from the large influx of tourists into the area. Ciechocinek has a unique lowland microclimate and the mineral springs that have been discovered in the area have therapeutic healing properties. The waters here have been found to include traces of sodium chloride, bromine, iodine, iron and boron. It is without doubt one of the best known Polish spa centres.

The medieval settlement of Slonsk existed on the lands where Ciechocinek now stands, which was first mentioned in the Mogilno Falsification in 1065. It is thought that the origins of Slavic Slonsk can be traced back as the 8th century and the parish to about the 10th century. The settlement stood on the right bank of the River Vistula. The Mazovian Duke Konrad I had a salt works in Slonsk. It is believed that great floods in the 13th century, which also destroyed the lower lying sections of the towns of Plock and Torun, contributed to the destruction of Slonsk. The first mention of the village of Ciechocino can be found in 1379 and the name of Ciechocinek first appeared in 1520.

With the outbreak of World War II and the invasion of Poland, Ciechocinek was converted into a huge military hospital for the German Army and re-named Hermannsbad. During the occupation the town also functioned as a health resort but exclusively for German citizens. German specialists rated the quality of the local saline springs very highly in comparison to the springs in Germany itself and the thermal spring No.14 they named simply "a wonder of nature". After its liberation in January 1945 work to reactivate the spa resort began very quickly as fortunately not much damage was sustained during the war. The most important buildings in the town, like the baths, the railway station and the church, survived despite attempts by the retreating Germans to blow them up.

In modern Ciechocinek there is virtually no industry. There are although spa hospitals, sanatoriums, preventoriums, recreation and natural remedy centres, mineral water fountains, hotels restaurants and a salt producing plant. The spa section has a wealth of green parks and squares, stunning flowerbeds as well as carpets of flowers. Each year many patients and tourists come here.
Poland's most famous complex of brine graduation towers can be found in Ciechocinek. These unique and the largest wooden structures in Europe were designed and built by Jacob Graff, a professor at the Mining Academy in Kielce, to evaporate water from brine. Three such towers were built and arranged in a horseshoe shape. The first two towers were completed between 1824 and 1828 whilst the third did not go up till 1859. The basic structure of the towers was achieved by knocking 7000 oak piles into the ground which supported a spruce and pine construction filled with blackthorn branches through which the brine flowed.
The graduation towers have a height of 15.8m and a total length of 1741.5m. The brine is pumped into the channels installed at the tops of the towers from Source No.11, the Grzybek Fountain. The droplets of brine flow down the walls of the graduation towers and due to the action of the sun and wind the moisture is extracted. The intense evaporation creates the famous microclimate, which is rich in iodine, around the graduation towers and is a natural therapeutic inhalator.

The salt plant along with the graduation towers are a unique historical monument on a global scale. For more than 170 years household salt has been produced here as well as its natural derivatives like the therapeutic mud and medicinal tonic. The unused part of the plant has now been converted into a museum with exhibits depicting salt extraction and also attesting to the origins and the development of the spa at Ciechocinek.

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