The Piast trail part 3, Lubiń – Strzelno
The third part of the Piast Trail is the section between Lubin and Strzelno. The route leading from the West to the East of Poland reveals new attractions for history lovers. It is in Lubień that you will see the oldest Benedictine abbey in Poland, you will visit Ostrów Tumski in Poznań, where apart from monuments, there are unusual multimedia installations, and in Pobiedziska you will shoot a crossbow and launch a huge catapult. Of course, you can reach all places with modern and comfortable cars from PANEK Rent a Car
The beginnings of the Benedictine monastery in Lubiń go back to the 11th century. According to the legends, it was Michał from Góra who brought the Benedictine order from Liege, Belgium, creating a Benedictine order in Lubiń. This fact is confirmed by archaeological excavations, during which fragments of the church and the moat from the 11th century were revealed. For unknown reasons, the first construction was interrupted and the present layout of the abbey dates back to 1145, the base of which is the church of Blessed Virgin Mary, whose altar was consecrated by Pope Clement IV and in 1267 and took the monastery under the protection of the Holy See. The abbey buildings were rebuilt for many years, and today’s baroque interior comes from the first half of the 18th century.
The historically shaped Benedictine abbey complex with the monastery church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, monastery buildings, the church of St. Leonard, a park, a garden, two farms, a parish school, a cemetery, a pastor’s house, a market square and a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, under the Ordinance of the President of the Republic of Poland in December 2009, it was recognized as a historical monument.
From the very beginning of their existence, the Benedictines were actively involved in the life of the community. They copied books, ran schools and hospitals for the sick and the poor. Today, the monks run a weekend meditation center open to all comers and sessions for groups associated in the Lubin Community of Christian Meditation Groups, and the center itself is open to Christian-Buddhist dialogue. Some will be interested in the information that the monastery also runs a tree nursery and produces the herbal liqueur “Benedictine”.
Naturally, the capital of Greater Poland deserves a separate article and we cordially invite you to spend at least one weekend in a city where you cannot get bored. A number of monuments and attractions related to the first Piasts, as well as the later ones that testify to the beautiful history of Poland, attract tourists and history lovers from all over the world. The most important places include Ostrów Tumski, the Royal Castle on the Przemysł Hill, Multimedia models of former Poznań, Poznań Gate and the Genius loci archaeological reserve.
The first settlement on the island of the Warta River was established in the 9th century. At the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, it was transformed into a defensive stronghold of the Polan tribe, giving rise to Poznań – a strongly fortified princely stronghold. The prince’s part, surrounded by the embankment, in which the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands today, had dimensions of about 80 x 100 m. A two-story stone palace of the ruler was erected here – a palas. There was a chapel connected to the palace, the foundation of which is connected with Dąbrówka, the wife of Mieszko I. In this oldest Christian temple in Poland, liturgy was performed for the ruler and his immediate surroundings.
Right next to the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands the Poznań Gate, i.e. the Interactive Center for the History of Ostrów Tumski. Thanks to the use of the latest interactive and multimedia techniques, you can travel in time and space and learn about over 1000 years of history of the Polish state and church. In turn, the Archaeological Reserve Genius Loci (Latin guardian spirit), also located in Ostrów Tumski, has a completely different character. The well-preserved ramparts of the Poznań hillfort from the 10th century are exhibited here.
The castle on Przemysł’ Hill is considered by most historians to be the oldest fortified royal residence in Poland. Its history begins with the construction of a residential tower by Przemysł I, before the location of Poznań on the left bank of the Warta River. Probably here, in 1257, Przemysł II was born, who later, aspiring to unification under his rule of Polish lands, built his seat on the hill overlooking the city. It was here, after the coronation in 1295, that he established the emblem of the kingdom – the White Eagle in the crown.
The first mention of Pobiedziska comes from 1233. However, as early as in 1048, after the victorious battle of Masław, Kazimierz the Restorer made the settlement a castle, giving it a name derived from dislike, which means victory. In 1331, Pobiedziska was destroyed by the Teutonic Knights, but during the reign of Casimir the Great, the city returned to its former glory. King Władysław Jagiełło, who made pilgrimages from Pobiedziska to Gniezno to the tomb of St. Adalbert and to Poznań to the tombs of the first Polish rulers.
A big attraction of Pobiedziska is the Open Air Museum of Miniatures located on the Poznań – Gniezno road. The buildings are made on a scale of 1:20 and they faithfully represent the most important and less known buildings from the Piast Trail and Greater Poland, according to their seniority: from the hillfort in Biskupin to the Monument to the Victims of June 1956 in Poznań.
Next to the open-air museum there is another attraction – the reconstructed Piast castle with an exhibition of life-size early medieval siege machines. The Pobiedziska stronghold has a diameter of about 50 m, is surrounded by a wooden palisade and secured with a moat, through which a wooden bridge leads to the gate with a fortified tower. A collection of replicas of war machines has been gathered here. Completely different than most museums; the exhibits can not only be touched, but also tested at the shooting range. In addition to the natural scale shaft crossbow, tourists have at their disposal a mock-up of an onager and a 10-meter trebuchet. This gigantic catapult throws stone projectiles up to 200 meters. Pobiedziska Castle is the only place in the world where tourists can operate this type of machine by themselves.
According to the tradition based on the 12th-century legend “Tempore illo”, after buying the body of St. Adalbert at the hands of the pagan Prussians, with the king’s permission, the holy body was placed in the monastery in Trzemeszno until it was dry enough that only bones remained, and only later was it transferred to Gniezno. The cult of the Saint in Trzemeszno has been going back several hundred years. Bishop Wojciech, going on a mission to Prussia, was to found a Benedictine monastery here. Although modern science has ruled out the theory of the founding of a monastery by St. Adalbert, the coat of arms of the city shows the figure of the patron of Poland with a crosier (he held the bishop’s office), an oar (as he traveled to Prussia by boat) and spears (from which he died). From the records of chroniclers, we know that Trzemeszno was often visited by King Władysław Jagiełło, who, also after the victorious Battle of Grunwald, made a pilgrimage from here on foot to the tomb of St. Wojciech in Gniezno.
In Mogilno, located near the important route from Gniezno to Kruszwica, on a hill situated on a small peninsula on Lake Mogilno, there was one of the most important castles of the emerging Polish state. Around 1050, King Casimir the Restorer founded a Benedictine monastery within the castle settlement, and the first monks came here from Bavaria or the Rhineland. The construction of the monastery was completed by Kazimierz’s son, Bolesław Szczodry. In the Middle Ages, the abbey in Mogilno supported the spread of Christianity in Gdańsk Pomerania and the Chełmno Land. Until the dissolution of the order in 1833, the Benedictines initiated the development of culture and economy in the area. Since 2014, the monastery in Mogilno has been the seat of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, and in line with the Benedictine tradition, the European Meeting Center “Wojciech-Adalbert” was opened here, whose activity is to remind about the Christian roots of Europe and Poland. In July, on the occasion of the patron saint of the city of St. Benedict, the annual Benedictine Days are organized in Mogilno.
The three-nave basilica of St. John the Apostle, built in the second half of the 11th century, now has baroque forms, but once it was one of the most magnificent Romanesque stone buildings in Poland. Over the centuries, the church was rebuilt many times, but it retained the form of a Romanesque basilica with elements of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The crypts in the basement of the church deserve special attention. A monastery building, rebuilt in the 18th century, adjoins the church from the south. Its three wings and the wall of the church form a patio, in the center of which there is a well from the 11th century, which is considered to be the oldest in Poland.
Two extremely interesting Romanesque churches are located on St. Wojciech in Strzelno. The Church of the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary was built for the order of the Norbertine Sisters in the years 1174–1216, and the fact of granting the monastery various economic privileges was confirmed in a papal bull of 1193. The church of St. Prokop built in the form of a rotunda. The nave, which has a circular plan, is adjoined by a square chancel from the east and a round tower from the west. The church was made of large granite cubes and only the upper, gothic part of the tower was built of bricks. The dome of the nave and the romanesque cross vault of the chancel are made of thin brick tiles. This is probably the first attempt to use bricks in Poland. At the entrance to the church there is a 12th-century Romanesque stoup, entirely carved in one stone. In the square in front of the churches, there is a group of erratic boulders associated with the pagan cult, and the legend says that the gouge on one of them is the mark of St. Wojciech.