Tyniec – Benedictine Abbey



   The monastery founded probably Kazimierz I the Restorer in 1044, after the crisis of a young state, triggered by the pagan rebellion and the Czech invasion. The Benedictines were to support the reconstruction of the state and the Church. The first abbot was Aaron, who also served as bishop of Cracow and archbishop. However, some researchers believe that the Benedictine abbey, previously present in Cracow, was founded only by the son of Kazimierz the Restorer, Boleslaw II Szczodry.
In the second half of the 11th century a site of romanesque buildings was built: three-nave basilica and monastic buildings. In the first half of the 13th century, the monastery was surrounded by a stone wall and fortified towers. In the 14th century, however, the abbey was seriously destroyed as a result of the attack by the Czechs and Tatars. Then at the abbey in the place of today’s abbots house, a castle was erected, acting as a frontier royal fortress. The site lost its strategic importance in the second half of the 15th century, when in 1457 king Kazimierz Jagiellończyk bought the Duchy of Oświęcim and Zator, but the military crew remained in the monastery until the seventeenth century.
In the 15th century the abbey was rebuilt to gothic style, and then in the following centuries, unfortunately in baroque style. The abbey was destroyed by wars in the seventeenth century, but was soon rebuilt and enlarged. Another destruction affected monastic buildings in relation with turning them into a Bar Confederates stronghold. In 1816 the abbey was closed. After the period of nineteenth-century negligence, the monks returned to Tyniec in 1939, and from 1947 began to rebuild the dilapidated complex.


   The abbey, situated on the limestone hill on the Vistula river, consists of the church of St. Peter and Paul and monastic buildings. The church was originally a romanesque two or three nave basilica without a transept, probably with two or possibly one tower from the west. The temple from the east was probably ended with an apses. After 1452, the church was rebuilt in the gothic style into a hall building with an elongated, three-side ended chancel, with a chapel in the extension of the southern nave and a square tower in the north-western part.
From the south to the church adjoined the romanesque monastery buildings surrounding the inner patio with gothic cloisters. 
Preserved relics allow only to identify the refectory in the south wing and the cellarium in the west wing. Romanesque cloisters probably could not be built entirely due to raids, but relics found may indicate that it was planned to place an open-works opened to the inner courtyard with arcades based on double columns. Gothic cloisters were built only during the 15th-century reconstruction. The extension of the abbey on the south side creates another three-wing complex with an inner, second patio. In the south – western part there was a library, in the north – west so called Opatówka, forming a gate complex.
The 14th-century castle on the monastery hill was probably founded on the plan of a triangle, with one tower over the Vistula embankment. The castle and the abbey’s buildings were surrounded by thick walls, equipped with a sidewalk for guards and battlements.

Current state

   Today in the Tyniec monastery there are both romanesque and gothic and unfortunately baroque elements. From the earliest period, the walls of the church have preserved up to about 5 meters high and the wall between the temple and the cloisters with the romanesque portal. The church’s chancel and cloisters are now gothic. The abbey still performs religious functions, but its part is open to the public. Practical information for tourists can be found on the abbey website here.

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