Complex of the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Grodzisko
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Complex of the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary



A complex of unique architectural, historical, artistic, and landscape value. This Mannerist sacred complex, modelled on Italian complexes, constitutes one of the earliest examples of the influence of Lorenzo Bernini on the Polish art, introduced to Poland by Sebastian Piskorski, a prebendary in Grodzisko who 1671 travelled to Rome.


Due to the defensive advantages of the location, in approx. 1228 Duke of Silesia Henry the Bearded founded a fortified settlement here, which was to guard the route from Silesia to Cracow. Shortly thereafter, during the fights for the Cracow throne, the complex was destroyed by Konrad I of Masovia. In approx. 1260, Bolesław the Chaste presented Grodzisko to Poor Clare sisters who arrived from Zawichost. The Prioress of the Poor Clare sisters was sister Bolesława, Salomea, the widow of Duke Coloman of Galicia-Lodomeria.

On the ruins of the fortified settlement, a monastery and a chapel of St Mary Magdalene was built. According to a legend, Salomea lived for eight years in the hermitage located within a distance of the monastery. She died on 17 November 1268, considered a saintly figure. In 1320, the Poor Clare sisters were transferred to the church of St Andrew in Cracow, and the abandoned monastery fell into disrepair.

Grodzisko was revived in the 17th century, during the beatification process of Duchess Salomea. In 1642, the Poor Clare sisters founded in Grodzisko a new chapel of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the late 1970s, at the initiative of priest Sebastian Piskorski, the whole complex, called Heritage of Blessed Salomea, was reconstructed.


The church is Baroque in style, but traces of other styles can also be found in it. The Baroque elements include the tented roof of the tower, portal, profile of windows, and obelisks with volutes, framing the church tower on the sides. The external, rectangular body resembles a Romanesque building whose remains can be found deeper in the ground, which was confirmed by excavation works carried out by A. Żaki. The spacious interior, covered with a barrel vault with lunettes and coffer stucco decoration are signs of Renaissance times. The main altar has three axes and is made of marble. It fills the whole western wall of the chancel up to the vault. The altar was brought from another church. Over its entablature, there is a painting of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by Franciszek Smuglewicz. The upper section of the round church tower, burned down in 1939, was reconstructed in 1960s.

The external western wall of the chancel is adjoined by “Gethsemane Cave”, made of brick. In front of the church from the east, there is a prebendary house coming from the end of the 17th century. In 1984-85, it was partially converted and renovated. For several years, it has been used by the oasis movement of the diocese of Kielce.

The whole complex is circumscribed by a brick and lime wall, in which there is a gate of semi-circular profile and three smaller gates - all of them Baroque in style. From another wall, which existed here one day, only a free-standing gate has survived, as well as remains of piers on the slope from the southern side.

On the walls around the church, there are five statues of members of the family of Blessed Salomea and Henry the Bearded, sculpted in sandstone. They present: Henry the Bearded (first on the left), on the opposite site - his wife St Hedwig of Silesia, carrying a church model in her hand (perhaps the church of St Anne in Cracow, whose construction at that time was notorious). Further on, there is Bolesław the Chaste, Salomea’s brother (the statue nearest to the entrance portal of the church). Behind the church, there is a statue of Blessed Cunigunde - wife of Bolesław the Chaste (from the north), and king Coloman of Galicia-Lodomeria - husband of Blessed Salomea (from the south). The statue of Henry the Bearded (the original sculpture is stored at the Wawel Royal Castle Complex) was made by the workshop of Bartolommeo Berrecci, an Italian architect who designed the Sigismund's Chapel in the Wawel Cathedral.

Behind the church, from the west, there is a building with three grottos - prayer houses, from the left: of St Mary Magdalene, Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St John the Baptist. There were created to resemble caves; their interior was once decorated by artificial stalactites and stalagmites. Little has survived, however, from the original decoration of the chapels, and the inscriptions and frescoes are nearly illegible. In the chapel of St John, there is a portrait of John III Sobieski.

In front of the chapels, there is a granite obelisk resting on the back of an elephant, erected in 1686 - three years after the victory of John III Sobieski at the gates of Vienna. The elephant statue is made of a large lime block, once with a fountain made of the animal’s trunk. This valuable item was modelled on the original sculpture from Rome, namely an obelisk of an elephant in front of the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, designed by Lorenzo Bernini in 1666-67.

Below the statue, to the south-west, the hermitage of Blessed Salomea is located - it is a building erected on a nearly square floor plan. Inside, a small altar of Blessed Salomea has survived, as well as remains of stucco decoration, and in the corner of the cell, Calvary and Tomb of Christ (significantly damaged); to the right from the altar, there is a stone bed of Blessed Salomea. Still legible Latin inscriptions can be found there: to the left from the altar: Ubi est thesaurus meus ibi et cor meum (Where my treasure is, there is my heart too), while on the right over the bed: Quid est sommus - Gelidae mortis imago (What is dream - a picture of cold death).

A couple of hermits lived in Grodzisko. In the 17th century, it was Aleksander Soboniewski, a camp commander of the Crown Hetman, who translated Bible fragments into Polish. After his death in 1674, he was buried in the hermitage by the wall of the altar of Blessed Salomea. In 1811, J. U. Niemcewicz writes about a former Carmelite from Austria, priest Maurer, who - after arriving to Grodzisko - treated the sick. In the end of the 19th century, two more hermits lived there - a pious monk Franciszek Warkocz and an elderly man Feliks Ekkert.

The complex can be accessed from outside, gates to the internal yard are usually open.

Services on Sundays and holidays at 12.00.

compiled by Grzegorz Młynarczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Krakow, 15-09-2015.


  • Kołodziejski Stanisław: Średniowieczne budowle obronne na terenie Jury Ojcowskiej w świetle wyników nowszych badań, OPN, 2006, s.15-19
  • Dreścik Jan: Kwiatki Świętej Pustynie B. Salomei Panny, na Skale S. Maryey: treści ideowe Barokowej Pustelni Bł. Salomei w Grodziski koło Skały, Jan Dreścik/Folia Historia Artium.-t.23 (1987)
  • Fuerst Tomasz Ch. Grodzisko koło Skały/Tomasz Ch.Fuerst// Spotkania z Zabytkami-2001, nr 7
  • Rokosz Mieczysław: Grodzisko skalskie nad Prądnikiem albo tzw. Pustelnia Błogosławionej Salomei w XIII wieku/Mieczysław Rokosz // Prądnik: prace i materiały Muzeum im. Prof. Władysława Szafera. -T.10 (1995), s.19-43

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 2. poł. XVII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Grodzisko
  • Location: Voivodeship małopolskie, district krakowski, commune Skała - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland


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