About Tyniec and Bielany
Both now absorbed into present-day Kraków, Tyniec and Bielany are both also worth a boat trip or visit from Kraków to see the C11 Benedictine Abbey (Tyniec) and/or the C17 Camaldolese monastery (Bielany). In fact, there’s a chance you may have noticed both on the left before the A4/E40 took you over the Vistula, and then on the right just after crossing.
Tyniec Benedictine Abbey
Tyniec is believed to have been founded before Poland, in the early C10, by the Vistulans, The village became a possession of the king and Casimir the Restorer is believed to have decided to locate a Benedictine abbey in the village in about 1040. (An alternative view is that the decision was made by Casimir’s son, Bolesław II the Generous, also known as the Bold and the Cruel.
The village was destroyed at least twice – by the Mongols in 1259 and then by the Swedes during the Deluge. It was attacked by the Russians in 1772 but then fell into the hands of the Habsburgs, where it remained until 1918.The abbey was closed in 1816 and the complex fell into ruin. The village had grown large, but poor, and largely survived by transporting people and goods across the Vistula.
The abbey was charged with restoring order to the area following a raid by the Czech Duke Bretislaus I in 1039, as well as consolidating the link between church and state. The first abbot, Aaron, was also the Bishop of Kraków.
The original Romanesque complex was destroyed by raiders in C14 and re-build in the Gothic style in C15. Later remodellings in C17 and C18 took on the Baroque and Rococo styles.
As we’ve said, the abbey was closed in 1816 and the monks dispersed – none returned until 1939, and the abbey did not again become the seat of an abbot until 1968.
Visiting the abbey
Guided tours of the Abbey (and of the church, when accessible) in Polish are run every hour on the hour in winter season:
Mon–Fri: 9.00–12.00, 14.00–15.00
Sundays: 10.00, 12.00–15.00
In summer season:
Mon–Fri: 9.00–12.00, 14.00–17.00
Saturdays: 9.00–14.00, 16.00 – 17.00
Sundays: 10.00, 12.00–17.00
Ticket: 6 zł
Audioguide (Polish, English, German): 5 zł
Includes museum, courtyard and the church.
If you borrow an audio-guide, you’ll be asked to leave a government-issued photo ID in deposit.
Museum opening hours are:
April – September 10.00 -18.00
October – March 10.00 – 16.00
Normal ticket: 7 zł
Discount ticket: 5 zł
The museum hosts temporary exhibitions as well as its own permanent collection.
Combined ticket (Museum + guided tour of the Abbey): 10 zł
Combined discount ticket (Museum + guided tour of the Abbey): 8 zł
Children under 6: free of charge
Family ticket (Museum + guided tour of the Abbey): 25 zł
At the abbey there’s a terrace cafe for coffee, soft drinks, cakes etc and a restaurant serving meals from the monastery kitchen.
There’s also a shop … for those who cannot resist a retail opportunity, here’s the on-line shop http://www.benedicite.pl/index.php?option=75&page=286
Getting to Tyniec
One option is to hire a bike and ride out the 10km along the Vistula from Wawel. Time approx. 45m to 1h.
There’s a boat leaving Kazimierz at 10:00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, arriving at Tyniec at 12:30 which then gives you 2½ hours before the return leaves at 15:05 and gets back to Kazimierz at 17:00. Link below for timetable and fares.
Ster (see below) has a boat doing 1h Kraków tours, 2h Bielany trips and 4h trips to Tyniec – check the schedule for times and prices.
Alternatively, take a tram to the Grunwald Bridge (Most Grunwaldzki) and then the 112 bus. Time about ½ hour depending on your connection.
By car, Tyniec is signed from the A4/E40 (out by Balice/JPII airport).
Stay at Tyniec – a retreat into the peace and quiet of the monastic life.
You can stay in the abbey guest house.
Comfort Rooms are located in the restored wing of the Abbey, with bathroom and elevator in the building. The wing can host up to 53 guests, and this area is handicap accessible.
Standard rooms without bathrooms are located in a separate building. In this area, the abbey can host 38 guests.
Rooms: single, double, triple
STANDARD: 80 PLN (single) – 140 PLN (double) – 180 PLN (triple)
STANDARD PLUS: 200 PLN (double)
COMFORT: 150 PLN (single) – 220 PLN (double) – 250 PLN (triple)
The Lesser Polish Way of Saint James
There are two pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela starting in Poland – the other is the Via Regia, which starts in Vilnius – and the 9th night of the Lesser Polish Way is spent in Tyniec.
Sandomierz Ratusz – looks like Tarnów, no?
The Way starts in Sandomierz, in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, 195km north-east of Kraków. Formerly one of the most important urban centres of the whole country, is now firmly on the tourist map for its Old Town.
From Tyniec pilgrims can head for Santiago de Compostella on the Via Regia, via Wrocław and then Germany, or through Oświęcim and down through the Czech Republic.
Wrocław – another city worth seeing, and home to the dwarfs!
Bielany Camaldolese Hermit Monastery
Bielany’s recorded history begins a little later – C12 – and is less eventful – though the Camaldolese monastery established there in early C17 was damaged during the Polish-Swedish War in 1655 and rebuilt after a fire in 1814.
To give it its full name, Kościół Wniebowzięcia Najświętszej Maryi Panny w Krakowie or the Camaldolese Hermit Monastery in Kraków is located on the 326-metre (1,070 ft) Silver Mountain. It consists of hermitages and the Assumption of Mary Church.
The Hermitage on Silver Mountain
The Camaldolese – part of the Benedictine family of monastic orders – arrived from Italy in 1604 with the idea of starting the first Polish order in Kraków.
Seeing the undeveloped are around what is today Bielany as an ideal hideaway for their hermitage, Father Wolski tried to persuade the landowner, Lubomirski, to let them have the land to build their church and 20 hermitages. Lubomirski resisted until the order hosted a particularly grand feast, after which the well-filled and well-oiled Lubomirski was persuaded to let the order build. Wolski had the papers ready, so they were signed immediately. In gratitude, Lubomirski was given all the silver from the table, hence the mountain became “silver mountain”.
On the southern slope of the monastery hill, you’ll find the Little Bielany Rocks nature reserve.
Camaldolese monks are monastic hermits. Their attire comprises a white robe with hood, scapular and a canvas belt. They rise in their hermitages or monastery at 03:30 every day and meet only during Mass, prayers and meals served in the refectory. Their time is spent in work, prayer, reading, contemplation, penance, fasting, solitude, keeping silence.
Bielany is called after the white robes worn by the monks – biel = white in Polish
This is Father Aloysius Poprawa. 1893 – 1942
Born Matthias Poprawa on 3 March 1893 in Kaszowie, near Kraków, he joined the Camaldolese order in 1912, at the “Hermitage of the Silver Mountain” (Bielany). In 1930, following a spell in Rome, Father Aloysius returned to Bielany, where he served as novice master and later prior. From 1933-1937 he served as “visitator general” then was appointed first prior of the new Hermitage in Bieniszew.
Imprisoned by the occupying German forces in 1940, Father Aloysius continued to minister to his fellow inmates in Haftanstadt, Sachsenhausen and Dachau.
Frequently beaten and starved by his captors, the Father worked alongside his fellows until one day the capo in charge, Rogler, beat him so much he had to be carried back to the barracks by his friends. The next day, unable to work, he was beaten again, this time by barracks chief Zier. That night, Father Aloysius was “carried … to the hospital, where he died from his internal injuries and from the deadly injection given him by the camp nurse.“
The monks keep silence, speaking only when it is absolutely necessary, and in muffled voice. They are allowed a short chat only three times a week: on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
There are now just nine Camadolese monasteries in the world. Two are in Poland.
The monastery is open daily for visiting by men only. Entrance is allowed daily at 8.00, 8.30, 9.00, 9.30, 10.00, 10.30, 11.00, 15.00, 15.30, 16.00, and 16.30.
Women are only allowed to visit the monastery on certain days: Easter Sunday; Easter Monday; May 3 – Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland; Pentecost Sunday; Pentecost Monday; Sunday after June 19; 2nd and 4th Sunday of July; 1st Sunday of August; August 15; September 8 and December 25.
On these days, the Holy Mass takes place at 11.30. Masses are also offered:
- December 24/25 (Midnight Mass)
- Pentecost Sunday: 8.00, 9.30, 11.30, 16.00, 18.00
- Pentecost Monday: 9.30, 11.30, 16.00, 18.00
The catacombs at Bielany
Getting to Bielany
The 109 bus from central Krakow will get you to Bielany.
Or check the timetable for Ster cruises.