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Gościkowo-Paradyż – The post-Cistercian monastery complex - Zabytek.pl

Photo Gallery of the object: Gościkowo-Paradyż – The post-Cistercian monastery complex

Gościkowo-Paradyż – The post-Cistercian monastery complex

History monuments Gościkowo


woj. lubuskie, pow. świebodziński, gm. Świebodzin - obszar wiejski

The monastery complex in Gościkowo-Paradyż is one of the most valuable sacred art monuments in Western Poland.

For long centuries, the complex played the role of an important religious site and theological centre radiating even past the Polish borders, mainly owing to Jacob of Paradyż - an exceptional theologian and philosopher connected with the monastery.

The prominence of Paradyż is further emphasised by its connections with eminent personalities, statesmen, politicians, etc. Men who were abbots of Paradyż include Marek Łętowski - secretary of King Sigismund III Vasa, educator of Władysław IV Vasa, Paweł Sapieha - Great Secretary of Lithuania, Andrzej Załuski - bishop, Great Chancellor of the Crown, patron, co-creator of the Załuski Library. Intellectual and perforce political strengthening of the abbey facilitated maintenance of Polish influence on the western borderlands of the Poland of the time.

The historical role of the Paradyż abbey was connected with its strategic location at the meeting point between Polish lands and lands under the rule of Brandenburg. The Paklica river flowing through the monastic garden constituted a border of the state. The area of western Greater Poland neighbouring with Silesia, Pomerania and Brandenburg was constantly subject to internal and external political and economic pressure depending on the geopolitical situation of the region. Until the 14th century, like most other Cistercian monasteries, the monastery in Paradyż was a facility closed to people of Polish descent. It was an association of foreigners and it leant towards Brandenburg (where part of its property was). As the westernmost part of the kingdom reborn after the feudal fragmentation, Paradyż became an object of interest for King Władysław Łokietek (Władysław I the Elbow-high), who in 1327 took the monastery into his care.


In 1230, the governor of the Poznań province, Mikołaj Bronisz of the Wieniawa coat of arms, funded Gastechov, a Cistercian monastery, on his land as a direct branch of the Lehnin abbey in Brandenburg (hierarchy: Morimond → Camp → Walkenried → Sittichenbach → Lehnin → Paradyż). The monks named their new seat Paradisus Matris Dei/Paradisus Beatae Mariae Virginis, which is the origin of the Polish name “Paradyż”, which was used from then on to refer to the monastery and the village (after 1945, the name “Gościkowo” returned into use for administrative purposes, and Paradyż remains the common name for the abbey). The monastery received significant privileges and donations from knights, dukes and kings, which is why it experienced fast economic growth (in the 13th century the abbey held more than 16,000 ha of land). Construction of the church began in the late 13th century. The building was erected in the Gothic style, on a cross-shaped floor plan; however, after the construction of the naves and part of the transept, the church was shortened by way of bricking-up the eastern inter-nave arcades as a consequence of construction-related problems. The 15th century was a time of cultural and intellectual growth of the abbey. It was then that Jacob of Paradyż, professor of the Jagiellonian University, proponent of the reform of the order and the Church, author of several dozen works in the field of mysticism and asceticism which were well-known across Europe, was active in Paradyż. It was thanks to him that the pope ordered that Polish Cistercians receive education at the Krakow Academy, among other things. After 1580, the monastery became part of the Polish province of the Cistercians. During the Thirty Years’ War, the abbey was invaded by the armies of Brandenburg and Sweden. Further damage was dealt by the fires of 1633 and 1722. A thorough reconstruction of the complex was started in the mid-18th century in accordance with the concept of the royal architect - Karol Martin Frantz. At that time, two towers were added to the façade, new wings were constructed, the fixtures and fittings of the church was replaced, and the entire building was decorated in the style of the Late Baroque and early Classicism. Following the Second Partition of Poland, property of the abbey became part of the Prussian Partition. The order was disbanded in 1810, with complete liquidation following in 1834, and in 1836 Paradyż became the seat of the Royal Teachers’ Training College. Moveable furnishings scattered across the area of the Gniezno and Poznań archdiocese, and the rich library was taken away to Warsaw and Berlin. The monastery has served an educational role to this day. In 1947, the abbey buildings became property of the Salesians, and in 1956, the Philosophy Department of the Gorzów Diocese Seminary commenced its activity inside the walls of monastery. Following the reorganisation of the diocese performed in 1992, it has been called the Major Seminary of the Zielona Góra and Gorzów Diocese.


The monastery is situated on the northern bank of the Paklica river, near the road connecting Międzyrzecz with Świebodzin. The complex is comprised of facilities built of brick and stone: church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Martin the Bishop, the monastery building and the gardens.

The current shape of the church and the monastery is a result of a reconstruction performed in the Late Baroque period, which was based on the original spatial design. The oriented church is a basilica with each two side nave bays corresponding to one bay of the main nave. It consists of a four-bay body, a rectangular chancel with an ambit, and three chapels on a circle-shaped floor plan: two on the north side and one on the east side of the church. The west façade features two towers crowned with Baroque cupolas. The interior features cross-rib vaulting (the last bay to the west is covered with faux wooden vaulting, the original having collapsed in the 18th century), and the naves are separated from each other with arcades supported by pillars. Church fixtures and fittings consist of Baroque altarpieces and Classicist choir stalls. Exceptional artistic skill is exemplified by the main altarpiece from 1739, which occupies the entire wall of the chancel, created by Saxon sculptors - Johann Caspar and sons: Johann Wilhelm and Christoph Hennevogel, with the central piece painted by Felix Anton Scheffler.

From the south and the south-east, the church is adjoined by two-storey monastery wings built around two garths. The corners of the wings are accentuated with three towers in the form of fortified towers with bell-shaped cupolas.

Category: ecclesiastical complex

Building material:  brick

Protection: Historical Monument

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_08_PH.15418