Perched in an awesome setting on a limestone crag above the River Vistula, Tyniec's Benedictine Abbey is the oldest of its kind still in operation in Poland. Founded by Benedictine monks in 1044, the abbey wasn’t necessarily built out of spiritualism; in fact, the monks were invited to Krakow in order to restore order and strengthen the position of the newly-found Kingdom of Poland, in the light of major turmoil with the Czechs. This partly explains why the abbey boasts such a defensive and austere allure, as well as its strategic location atop a limestone mountain overlooking the Vistula River. The configuration changed quite drastically over the years as the site underwent raids, cosmetic remodeling and invasions, and it even served as a fortress to rebel Poles during the 1768 War of the Bar Confederation against the Russian Empire.
Nowadays, the Baroque-style complex consists of the abbey itself, the twin-spired church of Saints Peter and Paul, a museum highlighting its turbulent history, tranquil cloisters and courtyards, a souvenir shop selling produce made by the monks—including beer and wine—and a simple restaurant. Visitors can only see the abbey by guided tour, but it's also possible to join the Benedictines for days of contemplation, attending prayer services and eating with the monks.
The Benedictine Abbey is located at Benedyktyńska 37 in Tyniec, roughly nine miles (15 km) southwest of Krakow. It can be reached by car in 25 minutes via route DW780, DK7 and Bolesława Śmiałego. The site can also be reached by public transit using bus #112 from the main train station. Guided tours run throughout the day. The abbey is open daily from 10am to 6pm, and admission costs 6 złoty per person.