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!


  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.

    1. I’m very appreciative that you took time to link to mine with your beautiful post, Suzanne. The walks can come in any time up to Sunday evening so you’re not at all late. Many thanks! 🙂

      1. Oh – that’s good to know about the time frame. I often don’t link because I haven’t actually done a walk on Monday. : )

  2. Jo what an amazing walk! Right up my street with the historical aspects too and such gorgeous scenery. I found the history of the abbey especially interesting – what a beautiful restoration! It is unbelievable how Poland was torn apart so often by invading forces and remarkable how it has bounced back with such spirit! Many thanks for including my 2 walks in your list this week 🙂 Please accept my apologies for not thanking you earlier – it has been a highly stressful week to say the least. We had to rush our nearly 2 year old cat to the emergency vet hospital on Monday night (a public holiday here) – she was in a poor way having, as we later discovered, swallowed the pom pom off one of her toys. Expensive tests and one major operation later I’m now the chief nurse for one cranky, cross and active cat who is not listening to any of the vet’s instructions for her recovery! Meantime our schnoodle dog is barking and stressing out due to the cat’s yowling to get out of her room! Monsieur LC leaves this afternoon for a trip to Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final and will be gone nearly a week! Hoping things will settle down soon but this is the first time I’ve managed to get on the blog since the start of the week! I will catch up on your other posts very soon but hope you had a great trip to Poland for the wedding! X 🙂

    1. Bless you, Rosemay! I can feel the stress level busting through the print (and hear the cat yowling from here 😦 ) Lucky M. LC! Hoping sanity is soon restored 🙂 And no worries about thanking me- you wrote two terrific pieces and it’s a pleasure to share. 🙂

  3. Love the monastery, so interesting. Thanks once again for the mention – a neat trick indeed finding so much sun in Shetland. Coming to the end of my holiday blogging soon, after which I hope to have more walks for you.

  4. What an awesome look into a part of the world I know little of. That monastery was fantastic. I’d definitely want to stay in the area for a few days, just to absorb the atmosphere!

      1. It’s always good to learn about them! I moved to Japan, and only once I realized how fun Kyoto was, did I look back and realize how many wasted opportunities I’d had in California.

    1. Oh Heck! I’m sorry if I’ve given the wrong impression, Pauline. 😦 The 2 halves in my title refer to the bit by the river in Krakow and the bit after the bus ride. Silly me, I knew I should have left it out. There is no ‘rest’ until I go back another year. Ah, well- you’re a loyal lady. I expect you’ll wait 🙂 🙂
      Thank you so much for your country gem. I did enjoy it. 🙂

  5. Such an amazing walk as usual Jo and such impressive and stunning photos you took! After a walk like that beer and snacks sounds like a great idea. 😆

    Thanks for sharing this lovely walk darling. I had so much fun! 😀 ♥

    1. When I went there with Weronika all those years ago it was a bit of a whistle stop tour, and I remember the skies as being grey, so it was a delight to go back on a day like this one, Sonel. Thank you so much for enjoying my stroll. You are lovely company. 🙂

  6. It’s hard to imagine all the destruction and devastation that went on here. As I scrolled through your lovely photos, I kept thinking how peaceful it looked. The first few photos of the river make me want to get a picnic and hang out on the banks all day!

  7. Jo at the site of the lead photo I went to grab my climbing harness! What a stunning location. I am with Drake both on the being speechless and the unusual state of affairs that actually is, for me not necessarily him.

  8. I was a long time coming to the idea of Poland, but some photos that a colleague showed me of the mountains -Tatra? and your posts have converted me. I still doubt I would go beyond the city because of a total lack of what is a very alien language, but a city trip perhaps one day.
    This walk was gorgeous, I enjoyed every step especially the limestone but its pretty all the way 🙂

    1. Some of it definitely better from the bus, Gilly, but I think in the 8 years since I was there they have improved the monastery complex so much! You can definitely see that time and effort have gone in, as well as money. The architecture in Poland is beautiful and I was knocked out with those limestone cliffs too. The Tatrys and the Pieniny’s are beautiful and there are others I’m not so familiar with. 🙂

  9. Partly because of Monday walks, I’ve decided to redo the Capital Rig with Dog and here is the first section. Loving Poland, too. My latest book, currently under the editing knife has a significant Polish element (in terms of characters – mostly set in London but a little around Bialystok). I’m getting great help from a blogging friend, Ula at but seeing these pictures is a great help too.

    1. My blog seems to go in waves, Geoff, and I’m riding the Polish one just at the moment. The architecture and some of the scenery is beautiful. Glad to be of help and thanks for the link. 🙂

  10. Wow! That colossus is really amazing. It looks like a king wearing a crown, sitting on his throne. Love the peaceful bicycle photo. A lovely place to sit and meditate. Thanks for a another wonderful stroll, Jo. 🙂

  11. What an impressive complex and setting. Much as I like using buses on my travels, the boat sounds even better. Mental note made for future travels!
    I went for a lovely walk at the weekend but don’t think I’ll have time to write it up – so it will wait for my return to blogging 🙂

  12. Hi Jo,
    When I look at these fantastic pictures I think I really need to put Poland on my bucket list, too, especially as my wife is of half Polish descent. The other half is Irish. So that country is on the bucket list, too.
    Have a wonderful week,

    1. Fabulous, isn’t it? I seem to have mislaid it somewhere, Elaine. 😦 Yesterday the sun arrived midday but today we’re still lurking in fog. I’m blaming that red moon but it’s not doing me any good. 🙂 Thanks for your company.

  13. What a lovely day for a walk beside the river and then you throw in some marvellous architecture and history. It is always such a delight to travel with you Jo, even if you don’t always know quite where you are going you end up in the right place (not to mention finding beer and snacks). Unlike you I am a bit obsessive when going to a new place and religiously look up bus/train routes and numbers and print out walking maps if I want to explore my new surroundings. I’m not averse to the ‘suck it and see’ method though 🙂

    This place reminds me of the castle in Bled. Now that is a place you’d enjoy and where you can walk all around the lake and up to the castle perched on its limestone rock surveying the landscape.

    Oh, and another garden walk for you. You can blame this one on Gilly 🙂

    Ta ra for now, I am orf to find a moss forest for Meg!

    1. I would love Bled! It’s been on my list for a long while. Feeling seriously restless again! Nothing booked and the sunshine the country is supposedly basking in hasn’t reached this part of the world today. 😦
      I do do my homework on places I intend to visit, but quite often it doesn’t work out quite how I intend. Much thanks for the walk and good luck with the moss. 🙂

      1. Moss not such a success. Sun decided to hide behind a cloud and it is already dark along the river so I had difficulty in focusing with the macro lens. Some lovely water droplets too, but again not in focus 😦

        Oh, well, I shall just have to keep on practising!

  14. What a very beautiful, peaceful place. Unfortunatelt sometimes roads do get int he way. Often we find walkers near our home in Andalucia on the wonderful G7 route, but some of it is simply a hard slog up a twisty mountain road, making sure you are well seen by cars before you get off and back onto the track. These folk often appreciate a lift in the car to avoid the less scenic parts!!

      1. I’m trotting along at a steady pace, thanks Jo. Best part of today, apart from the cherry blossom trees, was getting a ‘no problems’ tick at my dental check up. Hooray. Big smile. 😀

    1. Warsaw is a brash modern hustle in parts, isn’t it, though the restored old side is beautiful, Robin? Krakow has far more of the old world because it served as Nazi headquarters and was largely left unscathed. Something I would dearly love to do is to travel by boat all the way up the Vistula making the comparisons. 🙂 A project for the future.

    1. It started just as you see, Richard, in the 20s, then dropped off over the wedding weekend, but fortunately stayed dry for the big day. We had a grand finale on the last day so I really couldn’t complain. 🙂

  15. You were right. I love this post. Those limestone bluffs (Jurassic, eh? Babies!); that river; the view back to Kraków; and of course the history of destruction and rebuilding, which seems to be a Polish specialty. I’m in awe of the ease with which you know to hop on a bus, and the gung-ho way you set off walking. I reckon you have more Polish than you own up to. I didn’t even see the river when I overnighted in Kraków. I’m very impressed by everything in this post.

    1. True confessions time, Meg 😦 I had Mick with me and he’s always a steadying influence to my gung-ho. We jumped on the first bus that came along and it was unfortunately the wrong one. The driver was not a jovial character and we got off in haste and read the timetable properly.
      When Weronika took me there it was by car directly from home, which is near to Balice airport. It was hardly any distance but I hadn’t allowed for the additional mileage from the centre. The river confuses me no end as it winds through the city and I frequently end up on the wrong bank! There you are- all illusions shattered. 🙂 But thank you for your confidence in me. I will almost certainly get you lost if we ever meet up.

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