Current purpose: monastery of Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit (oo. Paulini)
Łekno Monastery is considered the oldest Cistercian foundation in Poland. It was settled for centuries by monks from Altenberg Monastery and thus counts among the Cologne monasteries. Originally situated on Lake Łekno (Colmar Lake District), it was moved in the 14th/15th century to the site of the monastic grange in Wągrowiec. The monks shaped the landscape through mills, agriculture, livestock and viticulture.
The foundation documents for the Łekno monastery of Zbylut from the Pałuka family (1153) are some of the most valuable testimonies of medieval Polish culture and the earliest known evidence of Cistercian presence in Poland (Polish UNESCO Memory of the World National List 2016).
The monks arrived in Łekno several years earlier from Altenberg (Germany), settling at the location of an old gord by the lake, slowly adapting the surroundings to their needs. The monastery in Łekno (currently an archaeological site) that remained active from the 1140s until the 15th century was destroyed in a construction disaster, which encouraged the Cistercians to rebuild their dwelling in a new location, a dozen or so kilometres from the old monastery in Wągrowiec, where the monastery, and former abbey have been preserved.
The marks of their presence can be witnessed in the present day and they are deeply ingrained into the local cultural landscape, e.g. in the area of former dwellings and neighbouring towns, preserved layouts of fields, roads and villages, forest complexes, (Dębina Reserve), lakes (Łekneńskie) and fish breeding ponds, hydrographic works – river junction.
Photo: P. Wroniecki