ccording to the tradition, the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec near Cracow was founded in 1044 by Kazimierz Odnowiciel (Casimir the Restorer, d. 1058), son of the Polish king Mieszko II (d. 1034) and Princess Richeza of Lorraine (d. 1063). This date is given by the Polish medieval chronicler Jan Długosz, but we do not know where he took his knowledge from, hence the dispute among historians over the authenticity of this message. Unfortunately, the foundation act of Tyniec did not survive. Therefore, some historians tend to theorize that bringing the monks to Tyniec was the initiative of Bolesław Śmiały (Bolesław the Bold, d. 1082) and was related to his coronation on the Cracow throne. It is likely that the mystery surrounding the origins of the Tyniec Abbey and its founder will remain unresolved forever, hence perhaps the thesis pointing to Casimir the Restorer as the initiator of the foundation, and to Bolesław the Bold as its final executor, is gaining popularity.
TYNIEC MONASTERY SEEN FROM BEHIND THE VISTULA RIVER
It is also debatable who in fact was the first abbot of Tyniec. According to (uncertain) background information, he was Aron, a monk from Cluny, later bishop of Cracow and archbishop, which suggests his responsibility for the restoration of the Church institutions after invasion of Bohemian prince Bretislaus and the pagan reaction, which in the 1130s severely hit the existence of Catholic Church in the Polish lands. Making Tyniec the seat of such a high-ranking representative of the ecclesiastical authority confirmed the status that the monastery had received during the times of consolidation of the Piast power. There are, however, some indications that the name of the first abbot of Tyniec was given to Anchoras of Lündenburg, associated with Bolesław the Bold, whose hypothetical grave was found in the basement of the monastery church of St. Peter and Paul. Thus, as in the case of the founder of the abbey, also in the matter of the first abbot there is no consensus among historians and polemics on this topic will probably continue.
SOUTH EAST VIEW OF THE ABBEY
THE LEGEND OF TYNIEC ORIGINS
Based on fragments of the 13th-century Life of St. Stanislaus, a half-historical, half-legendary story about the foundation of the monastery in Tyniec has developed over the centuries. According to the (very free) interpretation of the Life of... young Casimir (the Restorer) was to stay, at will of his mother Richeza, in the famous Benedictine
abbey in Cluny, where he made religious vows and became a monk. There the news of his father Mieszko's death reached him, as well as the order to return to Poland and take the throne. As the young prince, who was already a monk, could not formally return to the secular state, another mission was sent to Rome, which obtained a papal dispensation under the condition that he founded a monastery. So Casimir took twelve monks under the leadership of Aron, and after arriving in Cracow around 1044, he founded the abbey and abundantly supplied it.
"History" initiated by the author of the Life of..., Wincenty from Kielce, and later authorized by, among others, Jan Długosz and the first author of the monograph of Tyniec, Father Stanisław Szczygielski, for many generations was considered true and indisputable. The monks of Tyniec so identified with its content that they called themselves monks of Cluny, and for a time even wore the habit of the Cluny cut. The belief that the abbey in Tyniec was founded by the monks of Cluny was widespread in the past, so it should not be surprising that in the 18th century Tyniec was admitted to the congregation bringing together all religious centers under the leadership of this largest monastery in Europe.
PROBABLY THE ONLY KNOWN PICTURE OF TYNIEC CASTLE (CRENELATED BUILDINGS ON THE LEFT)
IT IS PART OF THE ENGRAVING WITH THE IMAGE OF ARON HOLDING A MODEL OF THE ABBEY IN HIS HAND
The founder of the order was
St. Benedict of Nursia (d. 547), considered the patron saint of all Europe and the spiritual father of all Western civilization monks. At the age of 20, Benedict chose the life of a hermit, gaining many disciples and followers over time. In 529, on the site of a former pagan sanctuary, he founded on
Monte Cassino the oldest Catholic order in Western Europe, whose motto was and remains to this day:
Pray and work (Ora et labora)
and the keynote: Order and Peace (Ordo et pax).
The Benedictine Order strongly cultivates poverty - according to the doctrine, temporal goods are worthless because the real treasure is in heaven. Monks vow stability (stabilitas), monastic morality (conversatio morum) and obedience (oboedientia) to the Rule - a set of laws and ascetic guidelines personally drafted by St. Benedict. Benedictine monks are engaged in scientific, retreat and pastoral work, among others, under the guidance of monks from Tyniec a translation of the Bible called the Bible of the Millennium was made. They are also known for their passion and knowledge of the subject matter in herbalism and herbology. Their custom of cultivating medicinal herbs in the monastery gardens has resulted in a number of herbal mixtures that are popular and effective today, including
Benedictine herbal liqueur based on a secret recipe of the order. The monks also produce (although more and more often they only put their own sign on it) other food products made according to old, monastic recipes.
Benedictines usually wear
a black hooded habit (hence they are sometimes called black monks) and
a black scapular. Assemblies of monks, called abbeys, are jurisdictionally independent of any higher religious authority, although they may join together to form congregations. The Benedictines were probably the first monks who settled on Polish territory. The representative of this order was the Bohemian missionary Św. Wojciech (St. Adalbert), so their documented presence dates back to the last decade of the first millennium, although they may have arrived here already during the reign of Mieszko I in the first period of Christianization (965). In Poland, Benedictine monasteries operate in Tyniec,
Lubiń. In the past there were also abbeys in
Mogilno (now the Capuchin monastery),
Płock (now the Diocesan Museum),
Sieciechów-Opactwo (now the presbytery) and on
Łysa Góra in Świętokrzyskie Mountains (now the monastery of the Oblate Missionaries).
ILLUSTRATION OF THE ABBEY FROM THE NORTHEAST, 2ND HALF OF THE XVIII CENTURY
he monastery was built on a hill just above the bank of the Vistula River, on the site of an older stronghold that had belonged to the Starż-Topór family, who were expelled from here or received other properties in exchange. The abbey was located within the administrative borders of the bishopric of Cracow, and its location was of great strategic and economic value. Also, the river crossing located at the foot of the hill was of great importance not only for communication but also for economy and treasury. Initially the hill was dominated by wooden buildings, but in the second half of the 11th century the first stone constructions were erected, including three-nave Romanesque basilica, the modest fragments of which have survived to the present day. Until the consecration of the monastery church (which took place in 1124), the monks were abundantly supported by Judith Maria (d. 1105) - daughter of the king of Germany and wife of polish duke Władysław Herman, as well as by the duke of Małopolska Bolesław Krzywousty (d. 1138). Generous donations of the rulers laid a solid foundation for the future economic power of the abbey and made it possible to increase the number of members of the convent. Economic development was also stimulated by the right to exploit, collect and sell a certain amount of salt.
Initially high income that the abbey earned from exploitation of salt lodes was strongly reduced by the ordinance established in 1368 by Casimir the Great, which limited previous privileges to use the salt mines in Wieliczka. The salt lodes in the properties belonging to the abbey were also slowly being depleted. Finally, the privilege of Sigismund the Old from 1509 established the amount of salt received by Tyniec as three barrels of coarse salt and three quarts of fine salt taken four times a year. The abbot was allowed to trade this salt, but the proceeds were to be used to modernize and maintain the defensive walls of the abbey.
ROAD LEADING TO THE ABBEY, ON THE LEFT WE CAN SEE THE MONASTERY WALLS, ON THE RIGHT XVIII-CENTURY LIME TREES
n the first half of the 13th century the monastery was surrounded by a stone wall with cylindrical towers. However, this proved to be insufficient in confrontation with the Tatars, who invaded the abbey in 1259, robbed and destroyed it. According to tradition, the monks escaped from the Tatars to Hungary, from where they returned without their leader named Bolebor, who died in the meantime. The monastery fortifications also proved too weak against the troops of Gerlach de Culpen, the brother-in-law of the bishop Jan Muskata, who in 1306, after a short siege, captured the hill and then plundered both churches standing on it. These bad experiences caused that still in the first half of the XIV century the abbey was refortified and garrisoned. At the entrance to the monastery, in the place of the later abbot's house, a fortified castle was erected, probably on a triangular plan, with one tower situated on the side of the Vistula escarpment. In the part not protected by the castle and monastery buildings, the abbey was surrounded by thick walls equipped with a crenellation and shooting galleries. At least until the end of the 15th century Tyniec functioned as a royal border fortress and a checkpoint controlling the road leading from Bohemia to Cracow, the capital of Poland. Later, when the national borders were shifted, it lost its strategic importance, but a permanent military staff stayed here until the 17th century.
COURTYARD OF THE ABBOT'S RESIDENCE, AND EARLIER THE CASTLE IN TYNIEC
Benedictine work: monotonous, tedious work, requiring patience and accuracy...
Presumably, as early as the 11th century, the Tyniec scriptorium functioned as a chancery where proprietary documents were issued to secure the monastery property and to manage the monastery estate. At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries a workshop was already functioning here, where books were transcribed, including liturgical and choir books. They were painted and decorated on the spot. Among others, in 1466 a codex with the Jewish War by Joseph Flavius was written in Tyniec - this work was commissioned by Abbot Maciej and transcribed by the monk Mikołaj - the organist. It is possible that the Cracow Pontifical - a liturgical book containing prayers, rules and rituals performed by bishops and abbots - was also edited here. However, there is no mention of the existence of bookbinding workshop at the abbey in Tyniec. Therefore, probably the monks outsourced the binding of their works.
Contrary to popular belief, making a copy of medieval book, though tedious and monotonous, was done efficiently and took an experienced scribe no more than a few weeks.
FRAGMENT OF JOSEPH FLAVIUS' WORK MADE IN TYNIEC MONASTERY (1466)
TYNIECKI SCRIPTORIUM (RECONSTRUCTION)
n the history of the abbey the 14th century is considered a very turbulent, even crisis period. The growth of the monastery's wealth was hampered by frequent armed conflicts, while administrative difficulties meant that secular staff grew in number, which had to be maintained and paid. Although the abbot of Tyniec belonged to the richest feudals of Lesser Poland (he even lent money to the king), sometimes he also fell into poverty, and was even forced to pawn his pontifical. The reasons for this situation can be found both in the mismanagement, relaxation of discipline, aforementioned wars, the costly lawsuits (over land) and excessive fiscalism of the papacy.
Casimir the Great also contributed to relative impoverishment of the order, because during the Russian War (1340-48) he partially secularized the abbey property for the benefit of the boyars - representatives of the ruling class in Rus. Despite the confiscation of some villages and towns relations between abbot Jan (d. after 1382) and the ruler remained good. The abbot of Tyniec was the confessor of king Casimir, and during the Russian War, without consent of the chapter, gave him the silver and valuables worth 2000 grzywnas, for which the latter generously granted him economic and judicial privileges. The reign of Casimir the Great is also associated with an interesting story, which, however, doesn't bring glory to the abbey. In 1356, on the king's order, abbot Jan gave his blessing to the bigamist marriage of Casimir (who already had a wife) and the daughter of the alderman of Prague - Kristina Rokičana (d. after 1365). The abbot of Tyniec appeared in pontifical robes so that the Czech woman would think that the blessing was given by the bishop himself!
IN THE GATE LEADING TO THE COURTYARD OF TYNIEC MONASTERY
estruction of the churches in Tyniec by Bishop Muskata's troops caused the need to rebuild the abbey. And although major transformations of its architecture did not occur until the next century, historical references from 1376 mention the chapter house, which was probably built with the money obtained from the sale of a certain estate near Tarnów (1364). Preserved relics in the cloister allow us to assume that a new Gothic style appeared in Tyniec at that time, and that brick was also widely used in construction. Fundamental changes, however, came only at the time of abbot Maciej from Skawina (d. 1477), about whom it was written that he found Tyniec wooden and left it brick-built. On his initiative, the Gothic basilica was built with a choir for monks, twice bigger than the earlier Romanesque church. The new temple was consecrated in 1463, and certainly its grandeur was impressive, since a writer who witnessed those events called it a beautiful jewel in the homeland. The church construction was accompanied by modernization of the monastery part, where - probably already under abbot Andrzej Ożga (d. 1487) - vaulted galleries were built. It was also during Ożga's time that the first prints appeared in the monastery library.
GOTHIC CLOISTERS SURROUNDING THE MEDIEVAL MONASTERY COURTYARD
n contrast to the 14th century, the next two centuries are considered the happiest in the abbey's history, as evidenced by the previously described investment in new church and expansion of the monastery complex. Thanks to the favor of subsequent rulers and proper relations with the Church authorities, the Order grew richer and stronger. The magnitude of Tyniec estate at that time has been described in a revenue book of Jan Długosz, which listed five towns belonging to Benedictines (Skawina, Tuchów, Brzostek, Kołaczyce and Opatowiec) and 86 villages, although there were probably more of them, since Tyniec was commonly referred to as the abbey of a hundred villages. Tyniec was then the wealthiest monastery in Poland, which was confirmed by inventories carried out on the initiative of bishop
Piotr Tomicki in the 1530s. According to data of that time, the annual income of the abbey amounted to 1081 grzywnas. For comparison: the Holy Sepulchre of Miechów earned 761 grzywnas, and the Benedictines of Łysa Góra earned a "paltry" 380 grzywnas. The impressive income of Tyniec Benedictines was reflected in the position of their abbot, who was regarded as one of the richest men in Little Poland during late Middle Ages and the Renaissance period. This wealth was achieved with the help of secular people led by the starost and assistant starost as well as with the use of a whole army of craftsmen and peasants. The situation of peasants in Tyniec estate was very difficult; serfdom and personal slavery developed, and issues of so-called social justice were basically nonexistent.
CHURCH AND MONASTERY COURTYARD IN THE EARLY MORNING AND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
The abbey was managed by an abbot elected by the monks (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries this function was granted by the king - often against the congregation). The deputy abbot was a prior. They were assisted by a sub-prior or provost, a curator who guarded the monastic rule, and a key-keeper (steward), who was responsible for the abbot's economy. Since 2015, the head of the Tyniec Order is
Fr. Szymon Hiżycki OSB, who on the day of his introduction to office was the youngest abbot in the post-war history of Tyniec (35 years old).
The number of monks in Tyniec varied depending on the times in which the monastery functioned. According to Mikołaj Nazon's relation (1418), at the beginning of the fifteenth century there were as many as sixty monks in Tyniec, although a few years later this number dropped to twenty, and in 1452 there were only sixteen of them. In general, it can be assumed that between twenty and twenty-something monks resided permanently in Tyniec at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era. The monastery was also home to convert brothers, deprived of the opportunity to participate fully in spiritual life, "second class" monks, who were used for heavier economic work. Sometimes they were helped by people from outside the monastery, the so-called "familiares".
THE CHURCH OF SAINTS PIOTR AND PAWEŁ FROM PERSPECTIVE NORMALLY INACCESSIBLE TO TOURISTS
hen in 1457 king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (Casimir Jagiellon) redeemed the Duchy of Oświęcim and the Duchy of Zator, Tyniec lost its military importance as a stronghold guarding the western border of the country. When mentioning this ruler, it is also worth noting the stay of the royal sons, who in 1467 took refuge here from the plague in Cracow. With the loss of its strategic military role, the Tyniec castle was abandoned and partly fell into neglect, which is surprising as the abbey at that time was famous for its wealth. It was not until the second half of the 16th century that abbot Jan Łowczowski (d. 1568) and later abbot Hieronim Krzyżanowski (d. 1573) renovated the building and adapted it to their seat, henceforth called Opatówka. The creation of new residence caused a great change in the social life of the order, because its superior no longer lived among his fellows in a relatively small, modestly furnished cell, but had at his disposal much larger, richly decorated space. With time, this situation led to isolation of Tyniec dignitaries and to deterioration of relations between them and the rest of community, especially after arrival of the so-called abbots-komendatariusz. Meanwhile, things were still going well in Tyniec, and culture and education were flourishing. Abbot Jan Łowczowski willingly hosted professors from Cracow, funded studies for his monks, encouraged the creation of literary works, and established at the monastery (or one of his predecessors) a secondary school gathering noble youth from the Tyniec region. His successor, Hieronim Krzyżanowski, besides finishing Opatówka, also erected new refectory, initiating a construction campaign that over the next few decades changed the appearance of the monastery and erased the Romanesque features of its architecture.
CHAPEL IN THE FORMER ABBOTS' SEAT, CALLED OPATÓWKA
n 1593 Andrzej Brzechwa (d. 1593) was elected abbot. This was the last free election for this function in the old Tyniec. From then on the superior of the order was appointed by monarchs and most often such an award was a form of royal privilege. It was associated with many benefits of material nature, especially in times when the abbey enjoyed wealth and prosperity. Tyniec and its incomes became payment to the faithful servants of the king; material and political reasons took priority over interests of the monastery itself. The first komendatariusz was Mikołaj Mielecki (d. 1604), appointed to the abbey by polish king
Stefan Batory, under whose (abbot's) rule the monastery reached the apogee of its prosperity. However, with the arrival of his successor, Stanisław Sułowski (d. 1618), brutally imposed by king
Zygmunt Waza (Sigismund Vasa) against the will of the congregation, relations between the monks and their superior deteriorated to such an extent that with time the abbot began to be treated as a parasite in the monastic organism. System of government called komenda lasted in Tyniec for a century and a half and with its establishment there began declining period of the abbey. The "imported" abbots were both primates and bishops, and one of them even applied for the royal throne.
NEXT TO THE FORMER LIBRARY, ON THE RIGHT, A STORE WITH PRODUCTS MADE ACCORDING TO TRADITIONAL FORMULAS (AND NOT ONLY)
eanwhile, Tyniec continued to enjoy the prosperity provided by the benefits of its vast estates and lands. Apart from the unpopular Sułowski, the first commandants had not yet heralded the financial crisis caused by their successors, who paid themselves huge sums from the monastery revenues.
Stanisław Łubieński (d. 1640), later bishop of Płock, made a positive contribution to the history of Tyniec by allocating a large part of the abbey profits to rebuilding the church and monastery premises. On his initiative, in years 1618-22, the Gothic church was practically demolished, and in its place a new Baroque temple with side chapels was erected, generously equipped with, among others, new stall, in which the monks sing their prayers to this day. The work begun by Łubieński was completed by his successors: Henryk Firlej (d. 1635),
Karol Ferdynand Waza (d. 1655) and
Stanisław Pstrokoński (d. 1657), which is evidenced by inscriptions and family coats of arms on the portals and vaults indicating the scope of initiatives taken by particular abbots. During the reign of the last of the abbots mentioned above, things became turbulent and even dangerous in Tyniec. In November 1647, Fr. Chryzostom Brzeski was killed by two inhabitants of Leńcze village, and a year later, unknown culprits killed another monk, Fr. Anzelm Lutomirski. Unrest was fuelled by attacks of robber bands and raids on Tyniec estates, and finally by assault on the monastery led by abbot Pstrokoński himself, to whom the monks refused to open the gates as a sign of protest against his rule in Tyniec. The confusion and unrest deepened when the Pomeranian voivode's troops stopped at the abbey for a longer time on their way to war with Chmielnicki's Cossacks. These troops entered Tyniec by force on the night of December 26-27, 1648, and then occupied it for several weeks, depriving it not only of livestock and food, but also looting the surrounding villages and estates.
XVII CENTURY WELL IN THE MONASTERY COURTYARD (BUILT WITHOUT NAILS)
hen Swedish invaders entered Lesser Poland in 1655, some members of the congregation with Abbot Pstrokoński escaped to Hungary (where Pstrokoński died). At that time the abbey was headed by the prior Ludwik Zielonacki, who was accused by his contemporaries of favouring the Swedes. The occupying forces invaded Tyniec many times during their two-year stay on these lands, plundering it and profaning its sanctities. During this occupation, the monastery was burned, but the fire was probably not a "sin" of the Swedes, but was caused by the army of Transylvanian duke
Rákóczi György, who in 1657 invaded the southern territories of Poland. The task of rebuilding devastated and depopulated Tyniec was undertaken by Maciej Poniatowski (d. 1660), and the works he started were continued by young abbot, prince
Hieronim August Lubomirski (d. 1706), who was only 13 years old when he took over the office. In 1685 Hieronim formally transferred the abbey to his 18-year-old nephew, Józef Lubomirski (d. 1709), whose reign lasted for a quarter of a century, and the monastery suffered much. The Lubomirski family line used the Tyniec estate as their hereditary property, while the decision-making processes de facto remained the domain of Hieronim, and Józef only played the role of a figurehead under the guidance of his uncle and predecessor in the abbey.
A SHORT DICTIONARY OF THE ABBOTS OF TYNIEC
Simply Abbot (Abbas) - superior of the order elected by the chapter. "Legitimate" abbots governed Tyniec from the 11th century until 1584 (for life), and from 1969 to the present day (during an 8-year term).
Abbot coadjutor - an abbot appointed by the king, who exercised co-government at the side of the abbot chosen by the chapter. This function was performed by Mikołaj Mielecki in the years 1584-93, but in practice he didn't play any significant role in the life of congregation.
Abbot-komendatariusz - the head of the order elected by the king, almost always against the will of congregation. This function was something like a royal reward. The office was to provide financial benefits, as the abbey's income was used primarily by the abbot, who had free disposal of them. This post existed from 1593 to 1748 (and to some extent in 1806-10).
Claustral abbot - elected by the pope (although formally it should be done by the chapter). He managed a third of the abbey's income. There were only two claustral abbots: Stanisław Benedykt Bartoszewski (1743-62) and
Florian Amand Janowski (1762-88).
Nominal abbot (komendatariusz) - this strange entity developed after 1741, when there was a division in the abbot's title and property. The monastery was ruled by the claustral abbot, who had a third of abbey's estate. The rest, that is two thirds of the properties and the title of komendatariusz, were given to dignitaries not belonging to congregation. They didn't play any role in the life of the order.
PANORAMA OF TYNIEC AND VISTULA VALLEY, IN THE BACKGROUND YOU CAN SEE THE CAMALDOLESE MONASTERY IN BIELANY
he last abbot-komendatariusz was
Krzysztof Szembek (d. 1748), archbishop of Gniezno, who didn't make a significant mark in the history of Tyniec, although he has been remembered as a man of great mercy. In 1743 he was replaced by Stanisław Benedykt Bartoszewski (d. 1762) who began a new chapter in the history of the abbey, which from now on was no longer fully a royal property granted in exchange for merits, but also a part of the congregation that guaranteed contact with other monasteries, mutual meetings, visitations, inspections and help. In spite of the fact that Bartoszewski received the dignity of abbot directly from Pope
Benedict XIV against the will of the congregation, his reign in Tyniec was a successful one. He developed learning at monastery - the congregation's studium commune was located here, and as a result, lecturers and students from other abbeys and monasteries settled in Tyniec. Bartoszewski was also a benefactor of late Baroque modernization of the church, realized by the royal architect Francesco Placidi and his father-in-law, the master painter Andrzej Radwański. The results of their work such as
black marble beautiful altars have been preserved until today. The monastery library was also rebuilt in this period. However, in order to give a complete picture of those times, it should be added that in the middle of the eighteenth century the abbey had a huge debt of 75 thousand zlotys and the abbot Bartoszewski gained a reputation of an oppressor of the local peasants.
THE CHURCH OF SAINTS PIOTR AND PAWEŁ IS VISIBLE FROM MANY KILOMETERS AWAY, HERE THE VIEW FROM THE NORTH
rmed conflicts of the second half of the 18th century did not spare the Abbey. During the Bar Confederation in 1769, military engineers came to Tyniec and with the help of the local people rebuilt the monastery into a fortress that was supposed to resist the Russian army of
General Alekandr Suvorov invading Lesser Poland. The number of Confederate troops defending the abbey was also considerable. It consisted of 400 infantry soldiers, 40 horsemen, and 16 cannons commanded by Wojciech Tomaniewicz, the future Prior of Tyniec. It took two years to prepare the monastery for its defense and it proved to be effective, because starting from the first Russian attack in May 1771 Tyniec defended itself tenaciously for a dozen or so months, and opened the gates only to the Habsburg army (which occupied the hill at request of confederates). However, upon entering the stronghold, the Austrians found only ruins and rubble, resulted from prolonged Russian artillery fire. All roofs were consumed by fire, there were also significant gaps in the walls. On the western side, exposed to bombardment, damages were even greater. Only some of interiors survived, including the rocco decoration of the church, as well as the lower floors of the monastery.
TYNIEC MONASTERY DAMAGED BY THE RUSSIANS, VIEW FROM THE SOUTH (1772)
he first Partition of Poland brought Tyniec under Habsburg rule. Soon, on the initiative of abbot
Florian Janowski (d. 1801), a reconstruction of the monastery began, which included almost all buildings except for the former starosty. However, the new authorities increasingly interfered in the life of the congregation making many difficulties in its internal affairs. Free changes of officers approved by the Austrians were forbidden, as well as appeals to Rome and contacts with the congregation. The monastery became impoverished due to the loss of lands and manors. In 1805 Tyniec consisted of no more than 10-12 monks, headed by the prior Antoni Chmurzyński. In 1806,
Emperor Franz I appointed Fr. Ulrich Keck of Wiblingen (d. 1810) as abbot, which was related to attempts to Germanize the University of Cracow, where Keck was to serve as faculty director. Soon, however, Keck and his German collaborators were forced to escape from the armies of the Warsaw Duchy, which caused great joy amongst the Polish monks. Fr. Chmurzyński continued to rule in Tyniec, and after his death in 1812, Ignacy Tomaniewicz was elected to succeed him, as the last head of the congregation before its collapse. When the Congress of Vienna approved new border that ran along the Vistula River and reincorporated the monastery under Habsburg rule, Emperor Franz abolished the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec (1816). Later, for some time, the former monastery was used for the newly established bishopric. The Church of Saints Peter and Paul became a cathedral, while the monastery buildings housed...the Jesuits. The fall of the abbey was clinched by a fire, which destroyed the monastery roofs and towers on the night of 2/3 May 1831. Only Opatówka and church survived the fire. Other buildings were ruined and then abandoned.
TYNIEC MONASTERY ON THE VISTULA RIVER, JAN NEPOMUCEN GŁOWACKI (BEFORE 1832)
WE CAN STILL SEE THE BAROQUE HELMETS ON THE CHURCH TOWERS, DESTROYED IN THE FIRE OF 1831
RUINED ABBEY ON NAPOLEON ORDA'S LITHOGRAPH, ALBUM WIDOKÓW, 1880
Although abandoned, in 19th century Tyniec was often visited, both for tourism and scientific purposes. Professors of the University of Cracow regularly came here to lecture among the romantic ruins. The former monastery garden, or rather its remains, attracted botanists looking for Mediterranean plants and medicinal herbs that the abbey was famous years ago. A lot of people used to come to Tyniec during the annual fair of St. Peter and Paul, organized every year at the end of June. The ruined monastery, known by its contemporaries as Pustki (Emptiness) has also repeatedly provided inspiration for writers and poets. It is here that
Józef Ignacy Kraszewski set the plot of his novel Brothers of Resurrection. It is also here, or more precisely in the inn Pod Lutym Turem located at the foot of the monastery, the story of the most popular Polish historical novel Krzyżacy (Teutonic Knights) by
Henryk Sienkiewicz begins.
THE MONASTERY IN THE EARLY YEARS OF 20TH CENTURY
he abbey remained uninhabited for over 100 years. In 1920, this is how
Stefan Żeromski saw and described it: Ancient, brooding ruins of Tyniec! To modern man incomprehensible, erected on ashes over a hundretfold older than yourself; in time becoming steadfast through misery and neglect, no more can your stones can be destroyed. Empty window holes, as blind eyes, gaze vacantly below, past white rock to the fast flowing river beneath... On 29 May 1939 Archbishop
Adam Sapieha handed over the former monastery grounds - the church, monastery and garden - to Benedictine monks from
St Andrew's Abbey in Zevenkerken, Belgium.
Nine of them, led by
Fr. Karol van Oost (d. 1986), arrived here in the last days of July 1939, a month before the German aggression against Poland. After the outbreak of war Tyniec didn't interest the Nazis too much, because as a ruin it couldn't compare with other Cracow monasteries, thanks to which it suffered relatively little. Its importance for Germans increased at the end of 1944, when near the former abbey a pontoon bridge was being built over Vistula river. Then German officers came to Tyniec, informing that it would be demolished in a few days, in order to erect bastions against Soviets in its place. Fortunately, the rapid march of the Soviet army made impossible to realize this plan, although the shelling of the hill by Russian artillery destroyed the church towers and Opatówka. Reconstruction of the monastery began as early as 1947, but difficult conditions of the post-war reality meant that it was not completed until the beginning of 21st century. The final stage of these works was rebuilding of the former library - formerly known as the Great Ruin - which began in the mid-1990s and was completed in 2008.
VIEW FROM THE SOUTH ILLUSTRATING HOW THE RUINS LOOKED-LIKE IN 1925
SOUTH-WESTERN PART OF THE ABBEY BEFORE AND AFTER RECONSTRUCTION OF THE LIBRARY
he monastery was erected on a limestone rock, which abruptly breaks off from the western side and falls towards Vistula river. The original Romanesque abbey differed considerably in appearance and size from the contemporary layout, which has been shaped as a result of many building initiatives. Only few traces of the Piast era have been preserved in Tyniec, although those that have survived, remind us of its centuries-long history. We can find there foundations of the first monastery church, its southern wall with a Romanesque portal and remains of the so called treasury from the 12th century. Today, this picturesquely situated complex includes two external courtyards surrounded by stone and brick walls of the church, monastery and Opatówka. It is closed by defensive walls several hundred meters long.
CONTEMPORARY PLAN AND MODEL OF THE ABBEY, BLACK COLOR INDICATES ROMANESQUE WALLS:
1. CHURCH COURTYARD, 2. MONASTERY COURTYARD, 3. OPATÓWKA, 4. CHURCH OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL,
5. GOTHIC MONASTERY WITH CLOISTERS, 6. CLOISTER, 7. LATE GOTHIC MONASTERY, 8. FARM COURTYARD,
9. SOUTHERN WING (FORMER LIBRARY), 10. WESTERN WALL, 11. RUINS OF STAROSTWO, 12. WELL
esidential part of the monastery consists of the Gothic northeastern section (cloisters), the late Gothic southeastern section, and the Baroque south wing, formerly housing the library. First brick constructions were erected here at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, when a stone building about 9x20 meters in size stood in the southern part of the monastery courtyard. Its ground floor probably housed a refectory, and the first floor - a dormitory. At that time the other buildings were of wooden construction, except perhaps a kitchen and unidentified houses in the eastern part. Originally, the monastery fortifications were also made of wood. This changed after the tartar invasion in the second half of the 13th century, when the abbey was surrounded by a sandstone wall with a thickness of 1.5 meters. Then, the monastery courtyard was transformed into a cloister with wooden galleries, the arcades of which served as burial places. They were surrounded by wooden buildings, although the western wing (kitchen, gatehouse) and the southern wing (refectory) were already fully masoned. At the end of the 13th century the monastery of Tyniec formed a regular plan similar to a square with sides of about 40 meters.
RECONSTRUCTION OF ROMANESQUE ABBEY IN TYNIEC ACCORDING TO ADOLF SZYSZKO-BOHUSZ:
ABOVE WE SEE THE MONASTERY IN THE XII CENTURY, BELOW THE PROBABLE LAYOUT OF THE ABBEY AFTER 1270
n the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries Gothic architecture began to dominate. It was particularly concentrated around the vaulted cloisters built using Romanesque walls. The patio and cloisters are surrounded by three wings housing the most important chambers. The largest room in the eastern part is chapterhouse, where the chapter (monastery council) met and where the most important documents were signed. The rite of admission of men to novitiate was also performed here, as well as funeral ceremonies of deceased monks, whose bodies were placed in a crypt under the floor. The former entrance to crypt was located in the cloister in front of the chapterhouse, which can be identified by an 18th century plaque with a skull and poignant inscription. Adjacent to the chapterhouse is a room called the treasury, where sacred vessels, books and relics were probably kept before the Baroque sacristy of the church was built.
MONASTERY CHAPTERHOUSE WITH COFFIN BENCHES
AT THE ENTRANCE TO CRYPT
he southern wing was occupied by refectory, called winter refectory since the 16th century. Above it, the monks' living quarters were placed as well as the abbot's chamber. This part of monastery was demolished after the fire of 1831 and rebuilt in the 1980s for use as a sacristy. In the northern part, the monastery corridor
is directly adjacent to southern wall of the church of St. Peter and Paulwła. This wall is a relic of the Romanesque temple, and was used in the 15th century to support Gothic vaulting of the cloisters. Dating from the time of first abbots is Romanesque portal, formerly serving as one of two passages through which the monks went to pray. The present condition and appearance of the monastery cloisters is result of restoration work carried out in the 1970s and 1980s. Earlier, but already after liquidation of the abbey, this space fell into great degradation being used as dwellings and storerooms. For some time, crops were also stored here, and part of the corridor was used as a cowshed.
MONASTERY COURTYARD AND RUINED CLOISTERS (WITHOUT THE SOUTHERN PART, WHICH WAS DEMOLISHED), CA. 1910
NORTHERN WALL OF THE CLOISTERS WITH A XI-CENTURY PORTAL
he south-eastern part of the monastery was built at the earliest in the 15th century. At that time, a new wing was erected, where second refectory, called summer refectory, was placed on the first floor. The so-called recreation chamber was adjacent to it. The building also had large hallway with stairs leading to the first floor, to representative chamber situated in the south-eastern corner. Today, this part of the monastery serves as a residential space for the monks and is not open to the public. It is adjoined by
long southern wing, probably erected in the 15th century on the basis of previously existing defensive wall. The building was thoroughly modernized in the 18th century for the needs of library. This part of the monastery was hit by lightning on the night of May 2/3, 1831, causing a fire that spread to the other buildings. The library, destroyed by flames, was soon abandoned, and in time it became known as the Great Ruin. From among all the buildings of the abbey, the south wing had to wait the longest for full reconstruction - it was opened only in 2008.
SOUTHERN WING DURING AND AFTER RECONSTRUCTION
rom the very beginning of abbey's existence, the dominant part of its structure was the monastery church, which shared its southern wall with northern wing of the cloister. There were three temples in sequence: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque. The oldest Romanesque church, built in the 2nd half of the 11th century, was a stone, three-nave basilica 24 metres long and 12 metres wide. It was closed on the eastern side by three semicircular apses, while the western façade was flat and had one or two towers. Interior of the church was divided by pillars into three naves, covered with a wooden ceiling. Its floor was made of plaster, replaced in the 13th century by glazed tiles decorated with floral and geometric motifs. The main entrance to the church probably led from the western (tower) side. The second entrance, preserved to this day as a semicircular portal, was placed in the southern wall of the temple. It was used primarily by monks going to pray.
HYPOTHETICAL DESIGN OF ROMANESQUE CHURCH, RECONSTRUCTION BY J. SMÓLSKI
REMAINS OF THE ROMANESQUE CHURCH FLOOR, MUSEUM EXHIBITION
n the second half of the 15th century, Romanesque church was demolished and a Gothic church was erected in its place, the floor plan of which almost doubled. New church had three naves of equal height and a chancel built on the plan of rectangle. Its dominant feature was a square tower, situated in the north-western corner, at the junction with Opatówka. The church functioned in this shape for about 150 years. At the beginning of 17th century the church was thoroughly rebuilt. Side naves were partially replaced with three pairs of chapels. The Gothic, sharp-arched vaults were also demolished to be replaced by
Baroque barrel vaults. Furnishings of the temple became Baroque, including the stalls made of linden wood and characteristic black marble decor. After destruction caused by the Russians in 1772, western façade of the church was rebuilt in a new, late Baroque style (the towers received characteristic slender helmets). The present
flattened tent helmets were made during renovation of the church after fire of 1831.
CHANCEL OF THE CHURCH IN TYNIEC WITH LINDEN STALLS FOR MONKS
During archaeological excavations carried out in the 1960s under the floor of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, remains of a grave with human bones were discovered in western part of the nave. The grave was probably covered with a plaster floor in the second half of 12th century and then - possibly in the following century - emptied. According to many historians, it may be the burial place of Polish king Bolesław Śmiały, the alleged founder of Tyniec Abbey. This ruler sentenced to death bishop Stanisław, who was in conflict with him. This decision caused a revolt of the knights, which forced the king to leave for Hungary, where he died. Bolesław's remains were brought to Poland some time after his death and certainly - contrary to tradition - were not placed in the royal castle at Wawel. Therefore, the monastery in Tyniec seems to be the natural resting place for the king-assassin.
At similar time, under the floor of the church chancel, fragments of Romanesque temple were uncovered with graves of 26 abbots of Tyniec, dating from the 11th to the 13th century. In one of the graves a unique 11th century
golden travel chalice with an engraved cross was found. The chalice from Tyniec is one of only two such vessels preserved worldwide.
FRONT ELEVATION OF THE CHURCH, ON THE RIGHT - GOTHIC PART OF THE MONASTERY
ntrance to the courtyard leads from northeastern side through two gates located in the so-called Opatówka. The oldest documents define this part of the monastery hill as the castle, and its present layout is presumably result of the 15th century Gothic expansion of the abbey.
The shape of Opatówka looks like the number seven. Its ends were connected
that formed a closed area, which could be easily covered by fire from both wings of the building. Initially a military garrison was stationed in the castle. In the second half of the 16th century, it underwent extensive renovation work to adapt for new seat of the abbots of Tyniec. Windows were enlarged, new staircases were built, and the whole building received a splendid and elegant decoration. It is worth mentioning that Opatówka survived the fire of the monastery in 1831 and later was used, among others, as the seat of forestry department. This is also where Benedictines lived after their return to Tyniec in 1939.
OPATÓWKA, VIEW FROM THE CHURCH COURTYARD
ear Opatówka there was a building called starostwo, probably erected in the 16th century for the needs of secular administration of the monastery managed by foreman. It was a two-story mansion with a farm section on the ground floor and a residential and representative part on the first floor. Starostwo was connected with Opatówka by wooden gallery, under which, among others, a kitchen and a bakery functioned. Russian bombing destroyed it in 1772, and as the only one of the buildings on the monastery hill, it has never been rebuilt. Only a fragment of its external wall is left, which separates the abbey from rocky cliff descending towards Vistula riverbed.
surrounding abbey from the north, east and south have also survived, but vast majority of these fortifications were erected not earlier than in the 18th century and only the lower parts may be of medieval origin. The wall in its eastern and southern part encircles
the monastery gardens, which were established in this place at the end of the 18th century on the site of leveled earth fortifications.
he Abbey in Tyniec is still an operating men's monastery, where spiritual matters have been skillfully combined with pro-tourism, educational and economic activities. Division between the closed cloister and the zone accessible to lay people: inhabitants of Tyniec, tourists and pilgrims, was clearly marked on the monastery hill. The carefully restored former library building houses a hotel (some of the rooms are also located in Opatówka). It also houses an Abbey Museum and headquarters of Chronić Dobro Foundation. Benedictine, a business unit selling products made according to traditional monastic recipes, a bookstore and a café with beautiful view of Vistula valley have also been operating in Tyniec since recently.
ON A TERRACE WITH A VIEW OF THE VISTULA VALLEY
OPATÓWKA, HOTEL ROOM
rchitecture of the monastery is dominated by the towers of Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a three-nave basilica with Gothic chancel and Baroque nave. Its interior is decorated in Baroque style, with
a Rococo main altar,
black and gold pulpit in the shape of a boat sailing on the sea, from which emerge heads of fantastic fish-monsters, and seventeenth-century linden stalls. Unfortunately, the majority of decoration and equipment of the temple and monastery library were destroyed or dispersed after the abbey was closed down by Austrian invaders. These memorabilia and jewels are now spread over a number of museums, including an 11th century sacramentary which, together with some liturgical books, belongs to the National Library in Warsaw, or precious chalices and monstrances which decorate the treasury of Tarnów Cathedral. What has been preserved in Tyniec, however, are the magnificent Gothic cloisters, the Gothic chapter house covered with 18th century frescoes, Romanesque capitals (as a museum exhibition), and finally,
the 17th century well, which was built without the use of nails, that stands in the south-eastern part of the courtyard. Interiors of the monastery can be visited as part of a guided tour.
MAIN NAVE OF THE CHURCH AND STATUES OF SAINTS IN THE MONASTERY CLOISTERS
NORTHERN ARM OF THE CLOISTER WITH A ROMANESQUE PORTAL
he Abbey Museum is located in the south wing, built on foundations of the so-called Great Ruin, former monastery library. In its gloomy cellars we can find
a lapidarium of Romanesque monuments from the 11th-13th centuries. Among many architectural details that remember the beginnings of the brick abbey in Tyniec, we may see here fragments of columns, portals and capitals, remnants of the floor originating from the oldest church, as well as one of the cantilevers carved in sandstone
with the motif of a woman's head. They are accompanied by an exhibition on how people lived in Tyniec before the abbey was founded.
The artefacts collected here also come from archaeological excavations carried out on the monastery hill and in its immediate vicinity. They include household items, parts of clothing, tools and fragments of weapons reflecting the daily life of people during the times when Lusatian and Przeworsk cultures dominated in this area. In one of rooms on the first floor we can visit an exposition on the monastery's apothecary traditions and archaic methods of treatment, as well as temporary exhibitions.
FRAGMENT OF THE MUSEUM EXHIBITION
Free admission to the church/ monastery courtyard (6.00-20.00) and to the Church of St. Peter and Paul. To visit the monastery and church with a guide, you need to buy a ticket. To visit the museum you need to buy a separate ticket.
Photographing interiors for personal use doesn't require special permission or an additional fee.
No animals are allowed on the monastery grounds.
Tyniec Abbey is perfectly suited for aerial photography and filming. It looks especially attractive from the western side (from behind the Vistula river), where there is a lot of space. The abbey can be also photographed from other angles without difficulty. However, it is important to do it responsibly.
yniec is an administrative part of Cracow, from the center of which it is about 13 kilometers away. You can get here by using the public transport bus no. 112 (stop Tyniec). In summer season cruise ships and the Cracow Water Tram also run here.
Driving along the southern bypass of the city, turn off at Tyniecki Junction and then follow the signs along Bolesława Śmiały Street and Benedyktyńska Street. There is a small free parking area
(under the cross) near monastery walls, to the left of Benedictine Street. A second, much larger parking lot is located slightly lower on the right side of the road.
Bicycles can be brought into the courtyard.
1. M. Derwich: Rola Tyńca w rozwoju monastycyzmu benedyktyńskiego w Polsce, 1994
2. M. T. Gronowski OSB: Tyniec - opactwo benedyktynów, Tyniec Wydawnictwo Benedyktynów 2018
3. Z. Janowski: Problemy konstrukcyjne związane z odbudową biblioteki tynieckiej...", 2009
4. M. Kamińska: Aktualny stan badań i nowe koncepcje interpretacyjne romańskiego Tyńca, 2014
5. P. Sczaniecki OSB: Katalog opatów tynieckich, 1978
6. P. Sczaniecki OSB: Tyniec, Tyniec Wydawnictwo Benedyktynów
TYNIEC MONASTERY EARLY MORNING
Castles nearby: Kraków - Wawel Royal castle, 12 km
Morawica - relics of a castle from 14th century, now a presbytery , 15 km Wieliczka - saltmaster's castle from 14th century, 22 km Wielka Wieś (Biały Kościół) - relics of a knight's castle from 14th century, 20 km
Zebrzydowice - Renaissance fortified manor house from 16th century, 23 km Korzkiew - knight's castle from 14th century, 25 km