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Honourable patronage:

Bogdan Zdrojewski
Minister Kultury
i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Międzynarodowa Rada
Ochrony Zabytków

Opactwo w Oliwie
VOIVODESHIP: pomorskie
DIOCESE: gdańska
FOUNDATION: 1178-1186 r.

History of the abbey

The moment of the foundation is arguable. Most probably it is the year of 1178. It is commonly acknowledged that the founder of Oliwa Abbey was the Prince of Pomerania Sambor I, however it is not impossible that Świętopełek was the founder.
After its foundation the monks from the convent in Kołbacz appeared in the cloister. The help of a Dutch cloister in Esrom which also helped the cloister in Dargun was necessary. At the beginning of its existence there were mostly Dutch and German monks. The initial endowment was simple, and there were not many lands that belonged to the cloister, apart from that they had the exemptions from duty and tithes. At the same time Oliwa gained new privilege of fishing in the sea and at the sea shore, and the right to trade.
To the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the next century Oliwa was involved in the Prussian mission. From the 20ties of the 13th century there was Dominican-Cistercian rivalry connected with this mission which eliminated Oliwa from the missionary work.
The year of 1308 is important for the abbey's history as it was the time when Gdańsk Pomerania was taken over by the Teutonic Order. In 1242 the Cistercians of Oliwa gained a new act confirming their properties and privileges which averted the longtime argument with the Teutonic Order. After 1466 Oliwa's relations with the Polish kings were lively. Kazimierz Jagielończyk and Zygmunt Stary confirmed the right to all the properties. From the 15th century the Cistercians had a cloister school which was divided into novitiate and secular one.
The Cistercians of Oliwa were temporarily or permanently in the possession of a few lakes. Their main income was from tithes, fishery, beaver's and mining regalities. From 1305 they had the right to collect amber. The same year brought new coastal and probably hunting regalities. The abbey gained also beekeeping rights and probably inn regalities. In 1266 mill regality appears.
The Cistercians also had a lively grange activity. Apart from that the cloister had economic and judicial immunity.
The cloister from Oliwa was an important centre of the intellectual development in Gdańsk Pomerania. In the half of the 14th century Oliwa's Chronicle was created by the abbot Stanisław. From the 15th century Oliwa was known as a centre of artistic carpentry, and their goods could be found in many of Gdańsk's churches.
In 1672-1702 Cistercian a printing house was open. Its initiator was a prior Michał Antoni Hacki. Next to the printing house there were paper mill, bookbindery and fonts' foundry. The printing house was used by the cloister, Jesuit College and the Catholic Church.
The abbey and its domains were many times destroyed as a result of the Prussian invasion, numerous wars and conflicts which took place in Gdańsk Pomerania. Apart from that the cloister suffered from the Teutonic invasion and the Thirteen Years War (1454-1466). In 1577 the Protestants from Gdańsk attacked the cloister and destroyed its church and goods. From 1578 after king's victory the citizens of Gdańsk rebuilt the abbey by paying compensation. As a result of the restoration the church and the cloister changed their architectural appearance.
During the Polish-Swedish conflicts in the 12th century, in 1629, the Abbey was ravaged and the cloister destroyed.
In 1580, Oliwa and also Peplin were included in the province of Polish Cistercians and their internal life was reformed. The abbey was a part of the Polish province until its suppression.
As a result of the First Partition the cloister in Oliwa found itself in the Prussia. It was the moment from which its crisis started. The abbots were mainly top-down appointed lay priests-German Hohenzollerns. They did not care about the abbey. The situation did not change when Gdańk was a free city (1807-1815). The crisis deepened at the beginning of the 19th century when Fryderyk II confiscated Cistercian properties. As a result of the lack of candidates the cloister depopulated. On 1st October 1831, Prussian authorities liquidated the cloister and post-Cistercian church was given to the Catholic parish.
In April 1945 the Cistercians came again to Oliwa. After the suppression, the cloistral church was changed into a cathedral, and in the cloistral buildings there is an Episcopal curia and Diocesan Seminary. The White monks were given the Church of Mother of the Polish Crown.

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The Abbey today

Today of the abbey


The buildings of the former Cistercian cloister have belonged to the Gdańsk's Seminary since 1957. An Archdiocesan Museum was established there. In the eastern wing there are: Marian Chapel, vestry and Treaty of Oliwa's hall which is a part of former small refectory. The walls of a refectory are decorated with wood paneling from the end of the 16th century and eighteenth-century gallery with images of 50 abbots of Oliwa. The galleries are from the 14th century. North of the gallery and garth there is an abbatial church- today's Archcathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Gdańskie Seminarium Duchowne
80 -330 Gdańsk - Oliwa
ul. Biskupa Edmunda Nowickiego 3,
tel: 0048 058 552-00-50,
fax: 0048 058 552-42-68

There were also other buildings that belonged to the cloistral complex but which are now outside the premises of Seminary:
Abbots' Palace (a so-called Old and New), today in both buildings there is a Department of the National Museum of Modern Art in Gdańsk;
Farm buildings built during the reign of Abbot Mikołaj Muskendorf (1474-1488) that were functioning as a granary; Episcopal curia that was here but since 1992 there has been Archiepiscopal curia.
Abbatial granary-now there is an Ethnographic Department of the National Museum in Gdańsk. It was built in 1723. Between the granary and a cathedral there is a baroque gate from 1608.
Cloistral granary-probably from the 14th century, since 1933 it was a parish house and it is an Archdiocesan House.
Abbatial stable- now it is a storehouse of Ethnographic Museum.
Gate House -An enormous gate of Oliwa's cloister, it is also called a House of plague. It was probably built in the 14th century. After the war, the building burnt down. It was renovated and since that time it has been a place of residence of local authorities. It is not made public.


In 1976 this post-Cistercian church gained the title of Minor Basilica, and in 1992 it became an Archcathedral. Most of its equipment is from the modern times of renaissance and baroque and it is of best standards: altars, epitaphs, tombstones, stalls and organ prospectuses. Monumental altar is from 1688. In the northern and southern part of presbytery there are twin, two-storey stalls from the beginning of the 17th
Above them, on the walls there is a twelve-century tablature with paintings of the founders and benefactors of the cloister of Oliwa made by Herman Han. Above them there are sixteenth-century frescoes. There are also enormous organs from 1788 made by Jan Wolhelm Wulff from Ornet. The same artist made in 1762 so-called small organs.

Inside there is a lot of epitaphs and tombstones of abbots and benefactors that lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. On the walls of the nave there are paintings (13 big and 10 small) with the scenes from the New Testament and from the life of St. Bernard and the portraits of the Apostles from the 17th and 18th centuries. Lower, on the pillars there are 14 paintings with the Stations of the Cross from 1948. Ambit, that is, the bypass of the presbytery was built in the 15th century. There is partially uncovered roman passage probably leading to the oratory from the 12th century and epitaphs devoted to Reinhold Heidenstien (King Stefan Batory's secretary) and Dithard-the first abbot of Oliwa.
The church is complemented by a richly decorated baroque pulpit, tabernacle from 1735, rococo chapels of St. Jan Nepomucen (a so-called Baptismal Chapel added in 1610-1612, its decoration is from 1745) and a Chapel of the Holy Cross (also called an abbatial chapel from the second half of the 14th century, decoration from the 18th century), a tombstone of the Princess of Pomerania, a tombstone of Kos family ( beginning of the 17th century), Episcopal crypt, antique chandeliers, canopies (small canopy from the 1st half of the 17th century situated between side altars; big canopy that according to the tradition was embroidered by Swedish Queen Krytyna (1628-1689) as a symbolic compensation for the destruction of Oliwa by the Swedish; feretory from 1788 showing Our Lady of Oliwa with an Infant Jesus; renaissance benches from the 17th century and side altars; baroque portal made of sandstone founded in 1688 by the Abbot Michał Haski and above it his blazon; and to the entrance there is an Abbot's Throne from 1730.

Contact: Parafia Archikatedralna pw. Trójcy Świętej
ul. Bpa Edmunda Nowickiego 5
80-330 Gdańsk
Tel: 0048 58 552-47-65
Fax: 0048 58 554-33-18

Ojcowie Cystersi
Parafia Matki Bożej Królowej Korony Polskiej
ul. Polanki 131
80-322 Gdańsk Oliwa
tel.0048 58 552 11 94

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