The spectacular Benedictine abbey in Tyniec upon the riverbank on the western outskirts of today’s Krakow, some twelve kilometers upstream from the Wawel Royal Castle, boasts glorious and dramatic history of nearly 1000 years rich in eventful episodes.
Founded in 1044 by Prince Casimir I the Renovator, then Poland’s ruler, the Tyniec abbey used to command the approach to the country’s capital city through the Wisla (Vistula) river valley. The fortified monastery on a steep hill was a hard nut to crack for the enemy, so small wonder that it often suffered their revenge. Mongols burnt it down in the 12th century, Swedes in the 17th c., and Russians in the 18th c. when the Tyniec Abbey was a crucial stronghold of the first Polish national uprising.
Yet otherwise Benedictine monks have lived and worked here peacefully for nearly a millennium. In the Middle Ages the learned friars provided education to young royalty in addition to their other numerous labors. Little was left of the original 11th-century monastery as first it was replaced by Gothic structures and next by the 16th-century Renaissance buildings given a Baroque facelift in the 17th century. Also the abbey's present Baroque church dates from the 17th century. The Tyniec Benedictines run a guest house with all the modern conveniences in one of the abbey's recently refurbished buildings. The church of the Tyniec abbey is a popular venue for classical music concerts, notably the summer series of the organ recitals. There is a cafe and shop that sells Benedictine food products such as honey, varied preserves, cheeses, and teas, also beer and wine.