Monastery complex of Discalced Carmelites, Czerna
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Monastery complex of Discalced Carmelites

Czerna

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The hermitage in Czerna, an outstanding work of the 17th-century urban planning and architectural thought, is the only structure in Poland associated with the order of Discalced Carmelites. It is an excellently preserved monument, legible in its complex, with lavish interior fittings, active pilgrimage sanctuary, accessible to visitors thanks to a change in the character of the monastery.

History

Discalced Carmelites arrived to Poland in early 17th century. Soon thereafter, in 1629, the voivode of Cracow, Agnieszka nee Tęczyńska Firlej, founded a church and monastery for them in Czerna and donated the nearby quarries of Dębnik marble to them (1631). The Church of St Elijah, along with one monastery wing, was built in the years 1631-1640. Its conversion was completed in 1650 (in 1922, the southern wing was extended upwards). The walls circumscribing the complex, which are 4 km long, were created in the period until 1770s. The extensive complex (more than 80 ha) was built up gradually until the end of 17th century, by erecting chapels, hermitages, connecting the utility complexes with a system of roads and bridge (1671-1691).

Description

In the north-eastern corner of the village of Czerna, on the slope of a mountain of 430 m AMSL, by the stream called Eliaszówka, there is a monastery and a church of Discalced Carmelites, a system of buildings harmoniously combined with the landscape, constituting an excellent example of skilful unification of the style requirements characteristic of that time and the order requirements.

The monastery complex of Discalced Carmelites is an early-Baroque complex, with 4 wings, built on a rectangular, nearly square floor plan with a church inscribed in it, forming a cross together with the corridors leading to the church, which forms 4 garths. An extensive area of the Great Enclosure, circumscribed by walls (currently in ruin), includes the valley of Eliaszówka and the hill located on the opposite side of the monastery.

The complex includes: church of St Elijah, an oriented, single-nave building erected on a Latin cross floor plan, with a vault, two-bay body, one-bay chancel extended by a choir and a tower, and similar transept arms, extended by a treasury and a treasury. Inside, the walls are partitioned by vaulted conch niches finished in Dębnik marble. The black Dębnik marble was also the material used to produce the fittings contemporary to the construction of the complex: altarpieces, portals with the coat of arms of the founder, Topór. In the main altar (made in the workshop of Italian artists Bartolomeo Stopano and Simone Spadi in Dębnik), there is a painting depicting an Angel feeding St Elijah in the woods, painted by Tommaso Dolabella, the court painter of Vladislav IV.

The monastery is comprised of 4 one-bay wing, with a corridor-cloister from the side of 4 garths. The monastery building has two storeys and basements beneath the majority of its area. In the western wing, there is a spacious refectory. The main portal from the west is made of marble and early-Baroque in style: a rectangular entrance, with a transom light over it, windows at the first floor level surrounded by a common frame decorated with stepped volutes and obelisks; in the triangular abutment of the portal, there is a cartouche with the Topór coat of arms.

The surroundings of the monastery include, among other things:

Monastery fencing with gates, significantly damaged and lowered in many spots, and in some of them, dismantled. The former small enclosure is closed from the north with a marble gate, framed with volutes, with a plaque mentioning the name of the founder and the date of creation, 1640, and the coat of arms of the Tęczyński family in a cartouche, and a dedication plaque with a Latin inscription.

The hermitage bridge (also called the devil’s bridge) was 120 m long, 9.5 m wide, and 18 m high. It was supported by 13 arcades, with figures of saints at the entrance and the outlet. Due to substantial damage it has not been used since 1889; today, it is completely devastated.

Hermitages: originally in the forest, on both hills, there were 12 hermitage houses with chapels, built in the 17th century. Until today, the ruins of the former gatehouse and a little hermitage bridge, ruins of the hermitage of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Abraham the Patriarch (in this place, there is a chapel of St Anne), and St John the Baptist and St Agnes have survived. The hermitage of St Agnes, located in the monastic garden, completely devastated since the 19th century, was rebuilt in the years 1966-1969.

Caves: in the area adjacent to the monastery, there are two rock caves: of St Hilarion, on the other side of the stream Eliaszówka (also called the cave of St Magdalene) and of St Onuphrius (also called the cave of St Thecla), below the road to the monastery.

Spring of St Elijah, from approx. 1640, called the Spring of Love, formed in the shape of heart; next to it there is a chapel of St Elijah (1848) with the figure of the patron saint.

The monument is accessible.

compiled by Tomasz Woźniak, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Krakow, 08-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Chrzanowski T., Kornecki M., Sztuka Ziemi Krakowskiej, Kraków 1982
  • Kornecki M., Sztuka sakralna, Kraków 1993
  • Krasnowolski B., Leksykon zabytków architektury Małopolski, Warszawa 2013
  • Łoziński J., Pomniki sztuce w Polsce, T. 1, Małopolska, Warszawa 1985
  • Miłobędzki A., Architektura polska XVII wieku, Warszawa 1980
  • Myczkowski Z., Więckowska J., „Czerna. Ogród przyklasztorny. Katalog zabytkowych założeń zielonych miasta Krakowa i województwa miejskiego”, Kraków 1980, opracowano w Zakładzie Architektury Krajobrazu IUiPP Politechniki Krakowskiej

General information

  • Type: monastery
  • Chronology: 1629 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Czerna 79, Czerna
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district krakowski, commune Krzeszowice - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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