The cultural heritage of the Land of the Odra Fens
The monuments of Lubiąż
Post-Cistercian monastery complex
The abbey, which is the largest and one of the oldest monastic complexes in Lower Silesia, is situated on a hill and surrounded by a wall. The northern route to it leads through a stone bridge, built over a moat (dated c.1509), and a gateway building, which was built in 1601 for defensive purposes. The gateway acquired its present appearance in 1710, when it was expanded. Its northern facade is particularly interesting, as it comprises a richly ornamented gable, whose recesses incorporate the statues of St. Benedict and St. Bernard - the founders of the Cistercian convent.
To the right of the gateway one can see the adjoining building of the former monastery hospital, erected at the beginning of the 18th century. Opposite the hospital there is a tall wall, whose gate once led to a vegetable garden and an orchard. An old barn, adjoining the hospital building, has been adapted for an inn. The road leads along the former building of monastery offices, with a sundial painted on its wall. The building next to it (which now serves as living quarters) used to belong to the monastery’s officials. The road forks at the monastery courtyard and it leads further along an alley of chestnut trees. On entering the courtyard one can see the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, fixed on a Corinthian column, which in turn is supported by a tall, solid base. The statue was made in 1670 by a sculptor from Legnica, M. Knothe. On the opposite side of the courtyard there are the statues of Negroes and Indians, which used to stand in the abbot’s garden. To the east, the courtyard is enclosed by a 223 metre long facade, which connects the Abbots’ Palace with the church and the monastery buildings. The southern limits of the courtyard are marked by the magnificent building of the former brewery and bakery. The western part of the courtyard is occupied by some living quarters (former coach house and the house of monastery craftsmen) and St. James’ Church. In 1697 this church replaced the original Romanesque church from the 12th century. The building is of the Latin-cross plan, with its facade facing east to the monastery church. Initially, it served as a parish church for the lay employees of the monastery. After the secularization in 1836 it was handed over to the local Evangelical community and was used until 1945. Its rich decor has not been preserved. Out of the farm buildings that used to adjoin St. James’ Church only the coach house remains.
The oldest edifice in Lubiąż, built in 1200, is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Church. This Romanesque temple was replaced at the end of the 13th century by a Gothic church, which later underwent numerous redecorations. The church owes its present Baroque decor to the renovation it underwent after 1672. It is a three-aisle building of a basilica type, based on the Latin-cross plan. The triple-bay presbytery is incorporated into a rectangle. The body of the aisle is 61, 5 metre long and the nave, which is crowned by a rib vault of sharp arches, is almost 20 metre high. The church is a mausoleum of the dynasty of Silesian Piasts and it holds the tombs of the founder of the abbey, Prince Bolesław the Tall as well as Prince Przemysław of Ścinawa, Prince Konrad of Żagań and the knight Marcin Bożywoj.
In the years 1311-1312 the Prince’s Chapel, adjoining the church to the north-east, was erected. In 1352 its founder, Prince Bolesław III of Legnica was buried there. Besides him eight bishops (mainly from Wrocław) and two or three children of Prince Henry the Bearded and St. Hedwig were buried there. The crypt under the floor contains embalmed bodies of monks and abbots. The author of the paintings in the church, Michael Leopold Willmann, who died in 1706, was buried there as well. Little is left of the impressive Baroque interior decoration of the church. The precious few remnants are the high altar, 24 side altars and English stalls. Especially interesting is the magnificent grating from 1701, made of wrought iron. North of the monastery church there is a Loretan chapel from c. 1710, modelled on the Italian original.
The northern part of the monastery complex is occupied by a three-storey Abbots’ Palace, built between 1681 and 1699. The building incorporates a basement and its wings are 96 and 118 m long respectively, whereas the width of each one is 18 m. The entrance leads through a semicircular gateway and a vaulted hall. The facade of the gateway building displays a cartouche with the coat of arms of Lubiąż. The north-west corner of the ground floor holds the former abbots’ refectory, whose vault is ornamented with Willmann’s fresco, depicting The Apotheosis of the Hero of Virtues. The eastern part of the northern wing includes the most representative room: the Prince’s Hall. Its height reaches the second floor and the entrance to it leads through the hall on the first floor and a portal with the statues of a Negro and an Indian. At the west wall of the hall there is a circle for musicians, propped by the statue of Atlas. The richness of decor is emphasized by colourful imitation marbles and stuccos by A. Provisore, sculptures by F. J. Mangoldt and K. F. Bentum’s paintings. The decoration in the lower belt of the hall exhibits the statues of three emperors of the Habsburg dynasty, allegories of the Seven Virtues, personifications of Strength and Constancy and the figures of Atlas, Apollo and Marcias. Personifications of the four parts of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and America are situated in the corners. The hall is topped by a plafond, whose dimensions are 28 x 14 metres. The plafond depicts the Victory of the Catholic Faith over Heresies and the Infidels and the glorification of Prince Bolesław I the Tall, the founder of the abbey. In the right corner one can see a figure leaning against a cartwheel. It is the self-portrait of the painter F. K. Bentum. The paintings visible between the windows represent scenes from the life of Elizabeth Christine, emperor Charles VI’s wife.
The southern part of the monastery hill is occupied by monastery buildings proper and the monks’ lodgings. The latter are situated within a large quadrangle with an inner garth, whose dimensions are 30 x 40 metres. The garth adjoins the monastery church at the south. The Baroque monastery church was built in the years 1692-1710 with three storeys above the ground and two levels of basements. A characteristic feature of this building are the beautiful, richly ornamented interiors of the summer refectory and the library. Each floor includes about 30 rooms whose area ranges from 24 to 50 square metres. The summer refectory is situated on the ground floor of the southern break in the west wing. This spacious hall (over 270 square metres) is topped by a trough vault, ornamented with F. A. Scheffler’s paintings. The central motif of the paintings from 1733 is the biblical scene of the Miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand, whereas the oval medallions underneath display scenes from the lives of St. Benedict and St. Bernard. The hall, which regained its splendour after renovation, is accessible for tourists and can be adapted for conference purposes. Walking through a portal made of black marble, one enters the library, whose height reaches the level of the second and third floors. Two rows of windows provide light for this spacious, rectangular hall, crowned by a barrel vault. K. F. Bentum’s 1737 decor is a painted encyclopaedia of science and art. The centre of the vault is occupied by the symbol of Wisdom, surrounded by the Church Fathers and the scenes of Christ’s Sermons in the Temple, The Session of the Convent’s Chapter and King Solomon Meeting the Queen of Sheba. Below the balustrade, in the medallions there are portraits of scholars, philosophers and poets of the Antiquity. Window recesses contain the personifications of the sciences. Before the monastery was secularized, its library, which is now being renovated, had owned 9 thousand incunabuli and manuscripts. Below the refectory, on the ground floor, there is the Centre of Information on Ecomuseums and the seat of the Lubiąż Foundation.
St. Valentine’s Parish Church
Two kilometers north to the abbey, there is St. Valentine’s Church. Situated on a small hill by the Odra River, the parish church is yet another architectural hallmark of Lubiąż. It was erected in the period between 1734 and 1743, whilst its interior decoration was completed in 1745. After its consecration in 1749 the church took over the function of the parish church from the temple in the market settlement in Lubiąż.
The design of the church, whose author remains unknown, refers to the architectural style represented by St. Nicholas’ Church of Mala Strana in Prague. The church in Lubiąż was modelled on St. John’s Church in Legnica. It is a building of elongated rectangular plan, with a semicircular apse and a solid, three-storey tower, enclosing the church to the west and east respectively. The spacious interior involves a single nave and rows of side chapels, above which the galleries are linked with one another below a trough vault. The surface of the vault is covered with paintings by K. F. Bentum’s disciple – I. Axer. The painting in the apse above the altar depicts the glorification of St. Valentine the Martyr. To the left one can see the image of the church, topped with the originally designed crowning. The vault of the nave comprises the symbol of the Holy Trinity against the background of clouds, surrounded by the scenes from the Old Testament. Underneath one can see the figures of the Church Fathers and the surface above the choir is covered with the painting of the Last Supper. St. Valentine's Miraculous Healing of the Heathen Krotho’s Son, which is visible above the main altar, was painted by K. F. Bentum. The statues of saints Peter and Paul, Benedict and Bernard and the personifications of the Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love were sculpted by Francis Joseph Mangoldt. Both artists also decorated St. John Nepomucen’s Chapel, situated to the right of the presbytery. The remaining chapels contain altars with paintings by M. L. Willmann and his school. Paintings from the first altars to the entrance have not been preserved. The pulpit in the church nave is ornamented with F. J. Mangoldt’s woodwork, representing Christ and the Samaritan at the Well and Christ With Mary and Magdalene. Both are outstanding specimens of Baroque woodwork.
The roadside shrine, devoted to St John Nepomucen, the Ecce Homo statue and St. Hedwig’s Grove, described in the chapter “Hiking in the Land of the Odra Fens”, and the trail of nature and history in Lubiąż, used to be elements of a broader architectural initiative of the Lubiąż Calvary.
The Calvary was complemented by the Hill of Three Crosses, which was founded by order of abbot Louis Bauch (1696-1729) as a votive offering for preserving the monastery during the invasion of the Swedes in the Thirty Years’ War. According to one of the legends (unconfirmed so far) the hill used to conceal the entrance to an underground arms factory, functioning during World War II. The original Hill of the Crosses was not preserved but its contemporary version was built in 1997 on the initiative of the inhabitants of Lubiąż. It is situated among fields, at the road to Krzydlina Mała (the extension of Wiejska Street) and constitutes a great overlook of the Valley of the Odra River and the Karkonosze Range.
The windmill is situated at the road from Wołów to Lubiąż. This example of architecture in wood, unique for this area, was built probably in 1798. The four-storey structure is topped with shingle and incorporates single-bay arcades. In 1932 or 1936 the mill was renovated and thoroughly modernized. In 1960 the building was expanded by adding a northern wing. The mill functioned up to November 1973.
To the right of the mill, just behind the viaduct of the former railway, there is a Lusatian settlement from the 19th century, removed to Lubiąż from Wigancice near Bogatynia. The settlement comprises a solid, living quarters of half-timbered construction with basement, brick base and wooden gables, a drive-through barn and a characteristic warehouse, whose ground floor is made of brick. The roofs of the three buildings are covered with ceramic tiles.
Historic complex of the Hospital for the Nervously and Mentally Ill
The complex, designed by Eduard Bluemner, was established in the years 1902-1910. The hospital pavilions are situated two kilometers north of the monastery buildings. The arrangement is based on the axis of symmetry, running along the lane which leads from the gateway, through a row of buildings (the auditorium, the kitchen and the isolation ward). The remaining pavilions are arranged symmetrically to the axis. To the west the hospital complex was enclosed by farm buildings and to the east – by a boiler house and a laundry. The complex and the farm, which used to employ hospital’s patients, covered the area of 151, 6 ha. It used to be one of the most modern mental institutions in Europe, holding 1100 beds. The hospital functioned incessantly till 1942. Afterwards, until 1945 it was a sanatorium for the German army. From 1945 to 1948 it was occupied by the Soviet Army and between 1949 and 1956 the Centre for Training the Personnel Responsible for the Mechanisation of Farming had its seat there. Hospital resumed functioning in 1957. Nowadays it covers the area of 16ha, including some of the historic buildings, and incorporates about 400 beds.