Jo’s Monday walk : Tyniec Monastery (a walk in two halves)

The Benedictine clifftop monastery at Tyniec

The Benedictine clifftop monastery at Tyniec

It was 8 years ago that I was first taken to Tyniec by my neice, Weronika.  Back then, it was all part of the newness of Poland in my experience, and my memories are indistinct.  I barely managed to grab a photograph!  Time to set that straight, but it was not quite so straightforward as I expected.

On a beautiful, sunny day I set out along the river bank of the Vistula, from Most Debnicki, in the heart of Kraków.  The route hugged the river closely and the name of the road, Tyniecka, seemed encouraging.  As I drew further away from the city, the path became quieter, with just the occasional jogger or cyclist for company.  It was wonderfully peaceful.  Too good to be true?

The river bank with Debnicki Bridge and Wawel in the background

The river bank with Debnicki Bridge and Wawel in the background

Looking across the river at St. Augustyna on the far shore

Looking across the river at St. Augustyna on the far shore

It looks imposing

It does look imposing!

In the distance another bridge beckons

In the distance another bridge beckons

What I hadn’t allowed for is that soon after the above bridge, the footpath runs out.  The only option becomes a busy road with no footpath on either side.  For a while I carried on, trying not to mind the passing traffic, but a sign suggested it was still 9kms to Tyniec. The option?  A bus, of course!  No. 112 runs about every 20-30 minutes, and deposits you in the pretty village of Tyniec.  Signs point the way to the monastery.

Tyniec lies 12km south west of Kraków in an area of limestone Jurassic hills, the highest of which is 293metres above sea level.  The first settlement here dates back to 3000 B.C.  In around 1040 a Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer.  It was destined to have a long and turbulent history.  Aron, the first abbot of Tyniec , became a bishop of  Kraków, with the responsibility to restore order and cement the position of the Church in the newly formed Kingdom of Poland.  In 1259 the village was destroyed in the Mongol invasion of Poland. This was just one of a sequence of assaults.  In the Middle Ages the River Vistula was a political border. The Abbey would no sooner be repaired and extended than it was beseiged again.

When Poland disappeared from the map of Europe, divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia, the Abbey was used as a fortress to hold off the Russian troops.  In 1816 the Abbey was finally dissolved by the Austrian authorities and left to decay.  It wasn’t until July 1939, on the eve of World War II, that the Benedictines returned to their ruin.  Restoration was begun in 1947 and looking at the complex today it’s hard to imagine all that has gone before.

But this is how it looked when it was repossessed in 1939

But this is how it looked when it was repossessed in 1939

And how bleak it must have been in Winter

And how bleak it must have been in Winter

A series of information boards showed the devastation.  I would have liked to take a tour of the Abbey, but these were conducted in Polish unless you had pre-booked an English tour.  I doubted that I would benefit much and opted to simply use my eyes.  The life of the monastery continues uninterrupted from 5.30 in the morning, with the awakening bell, until 20.30 and the beginning of ‘night time silence’.  The website gives details of how a monk spends his day, and much more.

In the centre of a large courtyard sits a well, which reaches all the way down to river level below us. There is a wonderful sense of peace. The most recent additions to the complex include modern reception and shop but they are not intrusive. High on the wall, a small cafe, with beautiful views down to the river.  I know you would have liked to see my piece of szarlotka, but it melted into my mouth too quickly to be caught on camera.  Accommodation is available for guests, and I can’t help feeling that this could be a very special place to spend a few days.

I had wondered if it would be possible to come to Tyniec by boat from Kraków.  Steps lead down through the trees to the river below, and there I found the evidence.  Sadly, only in Summer, on Saturdays and Sundays.  It would make a wonderful alternative route back.

But trying not to disturb the peace

Trying not to disturb the peace

The best view of the monastery would be from the opposite bank of the Vistula, but I saw all that I could.  The path threads beneath the mighty limestone crags and disappears off around the bend.  The temptation to follow it was strong, but ‘home’ lay in the opposite direction.

A colossus in white

A colossus in white

Beside the ferry point there’s a small cafe where you can enjoy a beer and a few Polish snacks.  A path leads back towards Kraków and I followed it for a while, not sure if it would rejoin the ‘main’ road through Tyniec.  A grand looking restaurant sits back beneath the cliffs, and in the distance, views of Bielany.

Satisfied with my outing, I retraced my steps up through the village and back to the bus stop. This time I stayed on the bus back to the centre.  The rest would keep for another day.

walking logo

Thanks to everybody for their patience and the kind contributions that still flowed in despite my wandering ways.  There are double rations from a few people this week, and you may have seen some of these but please be sure not to miss any.  If you would like to join me, now or in the future, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.  Now please grab that coffee and settle down for a good read.

Drake has two offerings- a beautiful moat and castle :

Royal architecture

Or maybe Lorelei would suit you better :

Between ruins and rivers

Anabel keeps on finding sunshine in Shetland.  A neat trick!

Lighthouses and cliffs: three Shetland walks

Who’s up for a little turtle spotting with Violet Sky?

Fairy Lake

A really good guided walk takes a lot of beating, as Laura will tell you :

Guided through the city

Elisa goes people watching in the rain, in that most beautiful of cities :

A Paris Habit

Lessons in geology, and pure beauty, from my pal Meg :

Eurobodalla beaches: Bingie Bingie headland 

While Ruth manages to combine beauty and practicality :

A bush walk with links to fire management

Whooshy water always appeals to me, and Rosemay is lovely company :

Wild Seas at Canal Rocks

You’ll enjoy this sunset with her too :

Sunset at Cape Naturaliste

Over the hill takes on a whole new connotation with Pauline and her four-legged friend :

Time for walkies 

And you can just picture Pauline and Jack pootling about these stalls :

Market Day at Mullumbimby

Then stopping for fish and chips (not greedy- sharing a portion of chips)

A walk along the river

Jesh shares some of her beautiful paintings :

The Tale of one of my Plein Airs and an Imaginary Walk

And Jill shows us the beauty of her native coastline :

A wander around Ahuriri Estuary

The scenery’s a little more bleak with Jaspa :

Sewell, Chile: UNESCO World Heritage Ghost Town

Tish is known to be fond of elephants.  Combined with bubbles, let’s finish with a smile!

Summer came back on Saturday and took us to the Fair

Many thanks to all of you and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead. (weather prospects in England are good!)  See you all next Monday, when we’ll probably be back in the Algarve.  Take care till then!

111 comments

  1. Getting lost is half the fun of exploring isn;t it? 🙂 Love those craggy cliffs. And the idyllic shot of the lone man and his bike by the river.

    1. He thought I was stalking him! He was sat having a beer at the cafe and left just before us. I got quite a surprise to find him there on the riverbank but it made a good shot 🙂 And it’s a fabulous place.

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