Following the course of the Vistula
This tour has two lodestars, seemingly distant from each other: following the course of the Vistula, and visiting age-old monasteries. Impossible to combine the two? Not in Kraków: here, anything is possible!
We will spend the first day taking an excursion to Tyniec. The Benedictine Abbey standing here is situated on a rocky promontory over the Vistula, and is one of the most ancient still functioning monasteries in Poland. Once a magnificent defensive site, today, however, it eagerly welcomes its guests: the doors to the church and the cloisters are open; the Abbey’s Museum invites us to visit, and once everything has been seen, you’re welcome to replenish yourself on the monks’ special fare. The Abbey is easily reached by municipal transport bike; in summer, we recommend the charming approach by water: taking a cruise on the Vistula.
The second day is a visit to the district of Zwierzyniec: it is here that the Premonstratensian sisters raised their convent. It is also close to Mt Srebrna Górę (Silver Mountain) in Bielany which the Camaldolese Order made its home. The proud silhouette of the church can be seen from afar, yet the monks choose to live in modest little houses around it, situated on the monastery’s premises: this is the spiritual asylum of hermits seeking an escape from the hubbub of this world. Please remember: the austere rule only lets men into the premises, and this only at specific times of the day. Women are welcome to visit the church in Bielany just 12 times a year.
The tour along the course of the Vistula in search of the age-old monasteries will only be complete on the third day: after a visit to Mogiła, once a village and now a part of Nowa Huta, where the Cistercian Order built its abode. Bringing together the features of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the Cistercian Church is one of the most precious examples of sacred art in Małopolska, where very rare Renaissance polychrome murals grace the church walls, a reason in itself for making the visit. To recapture the “marine element” of the trail, we suggest taking a walk by the picturesque Nowa Huta Reservoir, and, should you feel like going to a swimming pool, why don’t you drop into the friendly Com-Com Zone Centre for Development, run by a Kraków educational NGO and situated near Mogiła.