The Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec is the oldest monastery in Poland, with almost one thousand years of history. Over the ages, it went through periods of prosperity and decline, until its dissolution in 1816 and re-opening in 1939. Today, rebuilt from ruins, it is open to guests wishing to experience the living Benedictine tradition.
Its rich history and centuries-old tradition makes the Abbey, along with its museum, a unique place to encounter Polish history, culture and art. The architectural complex of the abbey combines Romanesque austerity with Gothic lightness and Baroque opulence.
However, Tyniec is not just history, but a living Benedictine community, the largest in Poland, where the daily rhythm is marked by the hours of prayers and work. By taking part in Vespers and Compline one can listen to Gregorian chant, resounding in Tyniec every day, unchanged for many years.
After the Second World War, Tyniec Abbey played an important role in the Polish Church – here the initiative of translating the Bible from the original languages to Polish found its origin; here the Polish translations of new liturgical books, introduced after the Second Vatican Council, were prepared.
For the reasons mentioned above, in 2017 the Abbey was awarded the title of a Historic Monument of the Republic of Poland. It is the highest possible distinction given to monuments in Poland, awarded to immovable heritage objects of particular importance to the culture of the country. Today the monastery in Tyniec is open for pilgrims as well as for tourists, being a place of meeting and dialogue.
The Training Course
The European Heritage Training Courses at the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec are good opportunities to be in close touch with cultural heritage – the participants have the chance to live and work for two weeks in a 1.000 years old monastery.
The Training Course in 2018 focused in carrying out works on the Baroque main altar, made of fine Dębnik marble. The programme was designed to let all participants be closely involved into the conservation process at all levels that are possible for non-professionals – cataloguing, photographic documentation, measuring, drawing, reconnaissance and documentation of the state of preservation, objects' cleaning from surface dirt – such as wax, paint or plaster splashes –, removing of weathered surface from marble decorations, polishing and marble surface preservation.
For two weeks, the participants removed layers of dirt, wax, and paste in order to prepare the altar for further conservation. The work was quite monotonous and required patience – as most conservation tasks do –, but the participants were very successful in their task. They did their job accurately and dutifully, and the result of their work was very tangible. They had a remarkable opportunity to participate in the process of conservation of real historic objects and allowing them to gain a better understanding of the conservators’ tasks.
The conservation activities were preceded by the theoretical introduction on history, history of art as well as conservation and restoration techniques. The participants were able to understand the whole conservation process and not only the small part in which they were directly involved. The work was carried out under the supervision of conservators, which ensured the safety of the objects as well as enabled the participants to ask questions and consult their actions on an ongoing basis.
The Training Course has been organised by Fundacja Chronic Dobro, in partnership with European Heritage Volunteers.