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Cisterians, Templars, ….

In the past, in the area of the Westpomeranian Region, knightly and priestly orders flourished that were famous all over the Europe. These were the Cistercians, Templar Knights and the Knights of St. John. They left many historic monuments, which can be visited and admired. Everyone is welcome!


Touring the Cistercian Trail is not only about visiting the Cistercian Monasteries, but is also a kind of journey into the past, one full of reflections on the spiritual life, and one close to Nature that is so much different from the present times. A discovery of the richness of the Cistercian heritage will allow the people of today to learn about their European roots and inspire them to create a better present and a more humane future.

The Cistercians arrived in Westpomerania in the 13th Century. They brought with them education, culture, medicine, craftsmanship and agriculture. In what is now the Westpomeranian Region, seven nunneries (Cedynia,

Koszalin, Marianowo, Pełczyce, Recz, Szczecin and Wolin) and three friaries (Bierzwnik, Bukowo Morskie and Kołbacz) were established.

The Reformation which spread through the Duchy of Pomerania in the 16th Century due to the efforts of Duke Bogusław X, resulted in the dissolution of the Cisterian monasteries. These were then taken over by the duchy. The Cistercian buildings that remained to this day are located in Bierzwinek (the west wing basement, parts of the gallery and the lower levels of the east and south wings), Cedynia (west wing; currently a hotel and restaurant), Koszalin (the aisle body of the present-day Holy Trinity Church), Kołbacz (the Cistercian church, the Converses’ House, as well as the Abbot’s House), Marianowo (west wing and east wing relics, in addition to two Gothic portals in the convent church) and Pełczyce (the west wing and part of the monasterial basements).

A description of the towns and villages of the Westpomeranian Region situated along the Cistercian Trail include:

a) Bierzwnik –located in the Bierzwnik municipality, in Choszczno county. Bierzwnik holds the remains of a Cistercian monastery. The town is a part of the Cistercian Trail in Poland.

The history of the abbey in Bierzwnik dates back to the turn of the 13th and 14th Centuries. The documents of 1286 and 1294 describe why the site was chosen, as well as the foundation and endowment of the monastery by the Margraves of Brandenburg. It also details the experiences of the first monks. In expanding the so-called ‚New March’, the Margraves of Brandenburg, during the course of their conflicts with the Westpomeranian dukes, violated the property of the Kołbacz Cistercians. In order to compensate for the damages inflicted upon the Kołbacz monastery, they decided to fund a monastic branch on the eastern frontier of their new lands.

The monks arrived in Bierzwnik on the 11th of June 1294. The abbey’s location was chosen in order to empower the local society and improve the economy of this marshy and forested area. The new office was called „Mary’s Forest”, a Christian name for the Starzycki Forest. Bierzwnik was named after the lake in the Starzycki Forest, after 1954.

Around the monastery, there were utility buildings, some of which remain to this day. The monastery itself was built on the shores of Lake Kuchta, initially within a square cross-section, but only three wings have been preserved, as the west wing is now missing. This was used to enclose the courtyard on the lakeside.

With time, the financial condition of the monastery deteriorated. Indeed, in 1430, Abbot Jacob considered relocating the branch within Prussia. However, before this could occur, the Polish-Czech crusade made in-roads into the New March during the Polish-Teutonic war (1431-1435), and the Cistercian property was robbed. In order to compensate for the loss, new acquisitions were made with the aid of the Teutonic order. In 1454, the abbey and the entire New March was taken over by the Hohenzollerns of Brandenburg.

The monastic buildings were then turned into utility facilities. In the first half of the 17th Century, a summer residence of the Brandenburg Electors was established in the remaining monastic buildings.

From all of the original monastic buildings, the lower level of the east and south wings has remained, as has almost intact elements of the basements and gallery from the west wing. The interior of the east wing retains the unchanged layout of the mediaeval rooms: the sacristy adjacent to the church, a library room and a former chapterhouse.

In the monastic interiors, there are many precious architectural details, the most interesting of which is the complex of vault support that is decorated with ornamental motifs, with human and devil faces and with an ox head decorated with a crown. In the church, under the presbytery, there is a burial tomb, most likely connected with a donation made by Hasso Von Wedel, from 1305.

Near the building, around the monastic hill, an education path has been laid out with information plates about the life and times of the mediaeval monks.

b) Bukowo Morskie -located in the Darłowo municipality, in the Sławno county. In Bukowo Morskie, tourists can find a Cistercian abbey from the mid 13th Century. The monastery was initially founded by Prince Svatopluk in 1248, and by 1262, the monks of Dargun had begun their residency. The first, probably wooden, monastic buildings were replaced in the first half of the 14th Century, by brick counterparts. Among the preserved buildings is the Gothic church (built in stages from the first half of the 14th Century to the late 15th Century). This shows elements of mediaeval polychromes and Post-Reformation 19th Century furnishings. The full complex of monastic buildings, however, has not survived, and their location has been lost. Currently, archaeological research is being carried out to find them. The church itself is now part of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Polish Catholic parish.

c) Cedynia – Cedynia is located in the Cedynia municipality, in Gryfino county. A Cistercian Abbey was located in Cedynia between the years 1266 to1555. Initially, from 1248, the abbey was located in Trzcińsko-Zdrój, and from 1555, it had become an educational institution for noblewomen. The abbey was founded by the Kamień Ordinary for the development of the area to counter the risk of the Margraves of Brandenburg expanding into this area. This was to no avail, and in 1266, the Margraves moved the abbey from Trzcińsko-Zdrój to Cedynia. Of the church and monastery, built on the high hill above the town, only the west wing of the monastery has remained to this day. Currently, in the preserved and rebuilt west wing of the monastery there is a hotel.

d) Recz – located in the Recz municipality, in Choszczno county. There are two hypotheses associated with the location of the Cistercian nunnery in Recz. According to the first, it was founded before the year 1272, by Duke Barnim I of Szczecin. So far, however, there are no documents to support this hypothesis. According to the second – more likely – hypothesis put forward in recent years, the Cistercian monastery in Recz was founded in 1296, by the Margraves of Brandenburg, as compensation to the Cistercian Order for their seizing of its property in the vicinity of Ińsk. The convent originated from the monastery in Marianowo near Stargard.

In October 1296, the Margraves Otto IV, Konrad, Henryk I, Jan IV and Otto VII returned to the Cistercian Order, the area of the former castle of the Knights of St. John, the castle fiefs, a section of the Ina River with its mills, 52 fiefs of farmland, patronage over the churches in Zieleniewo and Recz, rents in Recz and Choszczno, patronages over the churches in Sulimierz and Mostków, as well as lakes in Żeliszewo, Zieleniewo and Rąbki. From this start, the monastic property grew systematically throughout the 14th Century.

Currently, it is the Christ the King parish church. Inside, there is a Gothic crucifix – probably from the monastic church and a gallery, known as the „Cistercian nuns’ gallery”.

e) Kołbacz – located in the Stare Czarnowo municipality, in Gryfino county. A Cistercian abbey was located here beginning at the end of the 12th Century and lasting until 1535. The monastery was founded by Castellan Warcisław Świętoborzyc. It was the first Pomeranian monastery east of the Oder River.

The Kołbacz monastery estate consisted of a vast area of land, many lakes (including Lake Miedwie) and towns. In the 14th and 15th Centuries, Kołbacz was the ducal necropolis of the Griffins. The Kołbacz abbey established three sub-priories: in 1186 – at Oliwa, in 1286 to 1294 – at Bierzwnik and in 1300 to 1357 – at Mironice. The preserved church was built from the early 13th to the early 14th Century, and then rebuilt around the mid 14th Century.

Still in existence to this day, in Kołbacz, are the basements and ground floor of the western part of the abbey (the so-called „Converses’ House”), the Abbot’s House (built in the first half of the 14th Century), as well as two utility buildings belonging to this period (a barn and a sheep-shed). The church itself is maintained by the Roman-Catholic Sacred Heart of Christ parish.

f) Koszalin – in Koszalin, one can only find the relics belonging to the Cistercian nuns in the so-called „castle chapel”, and the church that once belonged to the Cistercian nuns is now an orthodox church. The Abbey that belonged to the Cistercian nuns existed here between 1278 and 1569. It was funded by the Bishop of Kamień, Herman von Gleichen, and was located within the town walls. With time, due to the reception of numerous grants, the abbey became one of the richest in Pomerania.

The Cistercian nuns of Koszalin were the patrons of the chapel built in the 13th Century, on Chełmska Mountain, and took care of the pilgrims. The oldest sanctuary in town, the cathedral church in Koszalin, built in 1300-1333, was also under the patronage of the Cistercian nuns, and the parish priests were, at the same time, the monastic chaplains. Currently, the chapel and the Sanctuary of „Our Lady of the Three Marvels” on Chełm Mountain, in Koszalin, is run by the Virgin Mary Sisters of the Schoenstatt Institute.

g) Marianowo – located in the Marianowo municipality, in Stargard county. The Cistercian abbey nunnery existed here from 1248 to 1541. The abbey was then transformed into a secular facility for educating noblewomen. The monastery founders were the Pomeranian Duke Barnim, and his wife, Marianna.

The post-monastic complex in Marianowo is the best preserved Cistercian nunnery in Westpomerania. Visitors today can tour in Marianowo, the original church, as well as the west wing and remains of the east wing of the nunnery (dating back to the 13th /14th Century with later changes). In the west wing, which is under systematic renovation, historic relics are being uncovered. Among these are the original portal leading into the church. The church itself is maintained by the Roman-Catholic Parish of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary.

h)   Pełczyce – located in the Pełczyce municipality, in the Choszczno county. A church can be found in the southern part of this town. This was part of the Cistercian abbey nunnery in Pełczyce, founded by the Margrave of Brandenburg, Albrecht III, before 1290. The monastic layout was established on the eastern elevated shore of Lake Panieńskie. Surviving today is the west wing of the monastery, dated back to 14th /15th Century. In the ground floor of this, visitors can see beautiful details. The quality of this work, and the styling found within the vaulting indicates a connection with the Cistercian architecture in Kołbacz. In the parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there are 13th-Century relics hidden behind and within the 15th and 18th-Century layers, and the Cistercian nunnery in Pełcz was one of the oldest centres of the Corpus Christi cult in this part of Europe. Today, the west wing of the monastery is owned by the Agricultural Agency, while the surviving church belongs to the Roman-Catholic Parish of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

i) Szczecin – The Cistercian abbey nunnery existed here between the years 1243 and 1539. Its founder was the Szczecin and Uznam Duke Barnim, and his wife, Marianna. The Holy Mother and St. Magdalene Monastery of the Cistercian nuns was located just outside the town, between the town moat and the Oder River shore. They also run a hospital in the town. Unfortunately, no monastic buildings have remained to this day.

j) Wolin – is located in the Wolin municipality, in the Kamień county. There was a Cistercian abbey nunnery here, founded in 1288 by the Szczecin Dukes, and supported by Duke Bogislaw IV. In 1305, the Wolin abbey also established a priory in Krumn. The monastery in Wolin existed until the early 16th Century, but no monastic buildings have remained to this day. Traces of the nuns’ stay can be found in the rebuilt St. Nicolas Gothic church in Wolin, as visitors can find within the church, a sepulchral plate belonging to the order. In addition, one can find a preserved Cistercian tombstone in the churchyard.

In the National Museum in Szczecin, visitors can find many elements of the furnishings of the Westpomeranian Cistercian monasteries. The museum is well worth a visit.

For more information, please visit


Templar Knights

The Templar Knights came to the lands of the Duchy of Pomerania in the 13th Century, and formed commands in Chwarszczany, Czaplinek, Rurka and Myślibórz. Their stay in the Duchy of Pomerania, however, lasted no more than a hundred years. Indeed, already in the first half of the 14th Century, their fortunes were taken over by the Knights of St. John. Yet, stories and movies about the Templar Knights make it more likely for visitors to devote attention to them, and, when exploring their historical monuments, we not only hope to discover their treasure, but also to encounter their legends and participate in a fantastic historical pageant, as doing so will diversify our tourist journeys and be truly worth a lifetime’s recall.

Towns and villages of the Westpomeranian Region that are connected with the legends of the Templar Knights are:

a) Chwarszczany -located in the Boleszkowice municipality, in the Myślibórz county. The Chwarszczany commandery was the most important one belonging to this knightly order. Indeed, the local Commander was the order’s mentor for Poland, the New March areas, the lands of the Czech and Moravia. The Templars settled here due to being sponsored by the Duke of Wielkopolska, Wladysław Odonicz. The Duke of Szczecin, Barnim I, later expanded their foundation. However, the last mention of this order comes from 1308, and the Knights of St. John had already become established in Chwarszczany by the year 1335. After the Reformation, Chwarszczany ceased to be a monastic domain. Today, the only remaining artefact connected with the Templar Knights is the Gothic chapel renovated at the end of the 19th Century. Currently, the area of the former commandery is being excavated, as is the Templar chapel. In Chwarszczany, in the second half of August, there is a historic fair. As part of the festivities, visitors can take in a tournament, as well as mediaeval culture workshops.

Templar Knights Trail Association

tel. +48 95 / 760 52 71

The Chwarszczany Project Team of the Pomeranian Museum in Myślibórz.

Bohaterów Warszawy Street 74
74-300 Myślibórz
tel. +48 604 273 616

b) Czaplinek – located in the Czaplinek municipality, in the Drawsko county. The former name of today’s Czaplinek – Tempelburg – already indicates that the town once belonged to the Templar Knights. Around 1291, the order was given Czaplinek by way of a grant made by Przemysł, the Duke of Kalisz. Despite the short time in which they governed the lands of the estate, they managed to built a castle here. It is even mentioned in documents from 1345, when the commandery in Czaplinek was passed into the hands of the Order of St. John. Unfortunately, in 1376, the castle was destroyed by Świętobór, the Duke of Szczecin, and so today the actual place of the seat of the Templar Knights remains unknown. Fortunately, however, in nearby Stare Drawsko, the Knights of St. John themselves built Drahim castle. In the ruins of this, today many historical events are replayed, including the activities of the Templar Knights.

Tourist Centre – Local Tourist Organisation

Rynek Street 1
78-550 Czaplinek
tel. +48 94 / 375 47 90
fax. +48 94 / 375 47 90


The Knights of St. John

The Knights of St. John arrived in what is now the Westpomeranian Region in the 12th Century, and they initially established a commandery in 1186, in Stargard Szczeciński. In 1775, their influence was still being felt and a Great Priory was established in Poland. In 1797, Emperor Pavel I joined it and a new Russian Priory into one congregation (formally dissolved in 1817). However, the tradition of affiliation with the order of the Knights of St. John has survived to this day in many noble families, in a form of a honorary title.

Stare Drawsko – castle ruins can be found here. Until the 13th Century, the county was ruled by the Templar Knights, then, from the end of the 13th Century, by the Order of St. John. Around 1360, they built a castle here, on the site of a former Slavic settlement. In 1366, King Casimir III the Great acquired these lands. The castle itself has been in ruins since 1759, when the invading Russian army burnt it down. Although partially destroyed, it has now been stabilised, and Drahim Castle is open to the public. In addition to the ruins, one can see attempts to re-enact life in the old castle. During the summer season, knightly tournaments are held here too.

Drahim Museum in Stare Drawsko

tel. +48 504 150 817


Zadanie współfinansowane ze środków Unii Europejskiej ze środków Europejskiego Funduszu Rozwoju Regionalnego w ramach Regionalnego Programu Operacyjnego Województwa Zachodniopomorskiego na lata 2007-2013.