Leubus Monastery

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Cistercian Abbey of Leubus
Leubus Monastery from the northwest, around 1900
Leubus Monastery from the northwest, around 1900
location PolandPoland Poland
Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Lies in the diocese Archdiocese of Wroclaw
Coordinates: 51 ° 15 '42 "  N , 16 ° 28' 9"  E Coordinates: 51 ° 15 '42 "  N , 16 ° 28' 9"  E
Serial number
according to Janauschek
Patronage St. Mary
founding year 1175
Year of dissolution /
Mother monastery Pforta Monastery
Primary Abbey Morimond Monastery

Daughter monasteries

Monastery Heinrichau
Monastery Kamenz
Monastery Koronowo Monastery

The Leubus Monastery ( Polish Opactwo Cysterskie w Lubiążu ; Latin Luba or Abbatia Lubensis ) is a former Cistercian abbey near the village of Lubiąż (German Leubus), about 54 km northwest of Wroclaw in the Polish Voivodeship of Lower Silesia . The monastery is one of the largest of its kind and its 223 m long main facade is longer than that of the Escorial (207 m).

The oldest Silesian Cistercian monastery was founded by the Silesian Duke Boleslaw I the Tall One, who had the monastery foundation charter drawn up in 1175. However, as early as 1163 monks from the Cistercian Abbey of St. Marien arrived at the gate in Leubus, founded the new monastery on the then densely wooded bank of the Oder and (as was the rule of the order) began to clear the forests. Leubus developed into the most important monastery in Silesia and played a significant role in the colonization and development of the country. From here, seven more monasteries were founded in Poland by 1256.


The Oder and the Leubus Monastery from the north (1st half of the 19th century)
Reconstruction of the tombstone of Boleslaus des Langen in the monastery church

In the area of ​​today's abbey, on the middle course of the Oder, a river crossing was built early on , at which a fortified settlement with pagan cult sites is said to have been in the early Middle Ages . This complex was probably destroyed in 1109. Reports that a Polish Benedictine monastery and church should have existed in Leubus before 1150 are also not certain . This can be read mainly in older publications and is only rarely represented today. In any case, the surroundings of the Leubus monastery were still dominated by large forest areas in the 12th century. There were only a few settlements that were almost exclusively inhabited by Poles. Only towards the end of the 12th century did an influx of German settlers slowly begin .

During this time the monastery was founded. Poland, to which Silesia belonged at the time, was broken up into individual duchies after the introduction of the seniority principle in 1138 and Boleslaw I the Long became Duke of Silesia . He had lived in Saxony from 1146 to 1163 , where he and his parents Wladislaw II and Agnes von Babenberg had been banished. They found refuge with his brother-in-law, the Roman-German king, Konrad III. It was there that Boleslaw first came into contact with monks from the Cistercian monastery of Pforta and recognized the cultural and economic development of his country that the settlement of these monks would bring with it.

That is why he called Cistercians from the St. Marien Abbey to the gate near Halle in Silesia and made a piece of land on the Oder available to them. The primary abbey of the Pforta monastery was Morimond . The first monks arrived in Leubus on September 16, 1163 and began to erect and equip a wooden structure. However, the development and construction of the complex dragged on for a long time and were made more difficult by the political turmoil of that time, so that it was probably not until 1174 that the first convent of twelve monks was formed, who made the further decisions concerning the monastery. The first Abbot of Leubus was a certain Florentine . This was also awarded the founding document of Boleslaw in 1175, which had been drawn up on the Gröditzburg . The official founding was completed and the monastery was granted land ownership and numerous privileges such as the right to tithe for the Liegnitz area .

Over the next few decades, the monks cultivated and developed the land and introduced the flow of German settlers to Silesia in the course of colonization in the east. For the country this brought a modernization of the economy and an expansion of the agricultural areas. The three-field economy was introduced, wetlands were drained and vineyards were created. The monastery flourished, so that around 1200 the first stone monastery church was built, the first documentary mention of which dates back to 1209. It was the first brick building in Poland, from which the technical progress brought about by the monastery can be seen. A year later, on December 8, 1201, Boleslaw died and, if he wished, was buried in the monastery; he was buried in front of the high altar of the monastery church. He was succeeded by his son Heinrich I the Bearded , who continued his father's policy. He was married to Hedwig von Andechs , and the monastery continued to maintain good contacts with the ducal court, especially since Abbot Günter II was Hedwig's confessor. Henry's reign not only brought a considerable increase in power in Silesia, including through the acquisition of the Duchy of Krakow in 1232, which made him Senior Duke of Poland, it also ushered in a heyday of the monastery. In 1202 the monastery already owned 27 villages and towns, some of which it had built itself and some of which had been donated to it.

Foundation of daughter monasteries

The daughter foundations of the monastery; shown on a current map of Poland

The 13th century also brought with it an expansion of the reform-loving order starting from Leubus, which manifested itself in the takeover and re-establishment of monasteries in different parts of Poland. In 1220 Pope Honorius III handed over . the Cistercian convent Trebnitz , which was founded by Hedwig, the monastery Leubus for supervision. Soon afterwards, the Cracow bishop Iwo Odrowąż summoned some Leubus Cistercians to Lesser Poland in 1222 , gave them the village of Mogiła and donated the local church as the nucleus for a new monastery . Mogiła - according to the founding myth, laid over the grave of Wanda , the daughter of the legendary founder of Krakow, Krak , and then called Clara Tumba (= light grave) - became Leubus' first daughter monastery. But also the Silesian dukes Heinrich I the Bearded and later his son Heinrich II the Pious were urged by the Breslau bishop to use the economically and culturally successful monastery for the further development of the country . In 1227, the Piasts founded the Heinrichau monastery, named after the sovereign, in the town of the same name (today Henryków) as the second daughter monastery of Leubus and the second Cisterce in Silesia. From Heinrichau, the Cistercians then took over the Grüssau monastery in Grüssau (now Krzeszów), also in Silesia, in 1292 , which was originally settled by Benedictines from the Opatovice monastery .

In 1241 the Golden Horde invaded Silesia and devastated large parts of the country during their campaign. However, the Leubus monastery and the entire monastery ownership of villages and estates were spared, which is why Leubus played a major role in the reconstruction of the country. A problematic situation for the monastery, which also resulted in economic stagnation, only began with the death of Duke Henry II the Pious on April 9, 1241 in the fight against the Mongols in the battle of Wahlstatt near Liegnitz (Legnica) . Because in the following years there was a dispute about succession, especially between his sons Heinrich the White and Boleslaw II , which first led to the division of the country and subsequently to the fragmentation of Silesia into smaller and smaller particular rule. Nevertheless, monks from Leubus came to Kamenz (today Kamieniec Ząbkowicki) near Frankenstein in 1246 to take over the Augustinian monastery of Kamenz , which was founded in 1210 . The monastery there had experienced a serious crisis after the resignation of Abbot Vincent von Pogarell in 1240, but the Leubus monks who had arrived were nevertheless sent away by the new abbot. It was not until 1249 that they were finally able to settle the monastery by decision of a papal legate , which was confirmed by Pope Innocent IV in 1251 .

The most distant and at the same time last new monastery was founded in 1256 with the monastery Byszewo (lat .: Byssonia ) near Bydgoszcz , after the Kujaw treasurer Mikołaj Zbrożek turned to the monastery Leubus. However, the daughter monastery Byszewo was soon forgotten as it was closed in 1288 and moved to nearby Koronowo . It is also worth mentioning that Duke Władysław Odon from Greater Poland also showed great interest in the development work of the Cistercians from Leubus. Therefore, he gradually transferred areas of Wielkopolska to the monastery. Among other things, from 1225 the monastery settled in the uninhabited wilderness ( desertum quoddam iuxta Nakel ) called Nakło colonists ( theutonicos sive alios hospites ), who made the uninhabited, hostile land arable.

Economic and cultural boom

Leubuser Pietà, Gothic, around 1370. Today in the National Museum in Warsaw .

By the middle of the 13th century, the Leubus Monastery was the founder of around 70 new villages that were settled by colonists. With the 14th century Leubus became a cultural center of East Central Europe and the monastery school and the library in Leubus contributed with similar facilities in other Cistercians of Silesia to the cultural development of the country. Above all, the Scriptorium of Leubus was an important institution in which various manuscripts such as the Trebnitz and Glogau Psalter , the Leubus Annals , the Catalog of the Bishops of Wroclaw (Catalogus episcoporum Wratislaviensium) and the Chronicle of the Polish Dukes (Chronicon principum Poloniae) were prepared . The economic strength of the monastery was consolidated from 1322 onwards by several gold mines in the Goldberg area and in general mining and early industrial sites such as forges were encouraged. When Poland under King Casimir III. the great one renounced Silesia in 1335, the city and the monastery Leubus had been Bohemian since 1329 and had a broad economic base. The monastery had continuously expanded its land holdings and owned extensive estates and around 65 villages with large agricultural estates in Silesia, but the monastery also had properties in the east, near Auschwitz , and in the north, in Greater Poland.

The good financial situation made it possible to renew the monastery buildings in a Gothic style , but the monastery church also became too small for the growing monastery, so that in 1307 the foundation stone for the choir of the new Gothic brick basilica was laid. This construction phase was completed in 1330 and work on the nave followed, which dragged on for decades. The Breslau bishop Nanker traveled to Leubus in 1330 to consecrate the already completed choir. Just as the church was completed in the third quarter of the 14th century, it largely survived all subsequent alterations and renovations. Another important construction project was carried out under Abbot Rudolf. Duke Boleslaus III. von Liegnitz-Brieg donated the prince's chapel north of the ambulatory in 1311 , which was completed in 1329. After his death in 1352, Boleslaus was buried there in a magnificent tomb . Other local dukes followed him.

Decline and war damage

Leubus Monastery and the surrounding wall from the north

The heyday ended abruptly with the Hussite Wars , which reached the area of ​​Silesia from 1428. Leubus was affected not only as a Catholic center, but mainly because of its wealth. The Hussites plundered and pillaged the complex, devastated large parts of the monastery's own villages and plunged Leubus into a long economic crisis. The monastery had hardly recovered from these raids and had just restored the monastery buildings when in 1492 Johann von Sagan-Glogau and his sons-in-law Albrecht , Georg and Karl I von Münsterberg , the later dukes of Oels , the Cistercian monks, drove the monastery away as a hunting lodge and adapted the premises to their needs. The Leubus monks could not return for seven years and found a place in Breslau and Crossen .

In 1498 Andreas Hoffmann took up the office of abbot and remained in this position until 1534. He managed to restore the monastery to its old purpose and to resettle the monks. This was made easier by the fact that Albrecht, Georg and Karl inherited the Duchy of Oels together in 1498 and Leubus was quite a long way from it. It is thanks to Abbot Andreas that he used his term of office to completely rebuild the monastery and, in mind of the last stormy decades , had it secured from enemies with ramparts (stone walls, earth walls) and an entrance gate. The monastery church, which was destroyed by the Hussite pillage, was restored from 1508. The reconstruction of the monastery devoured 1,000 guilders , but normalized monastic life and helped the abbey to flourish by reviving the monastery 's own economy.

With the Reformation in 1517, the 16th century did not begin promisingly for the monastery either. The social changes in particular were disadvantageous for the monastery. This was shown by the fact that the monastery recorded fewer and fewer new entries and the circle of Leubus monks became noticeably smaller over the course of the century. In addition, the abbey, especially with the Duchy of Liegnitz , was surrounded by powers that had accepted the Reformation and, with increasing independence, expanded their own territory at the expense of the weak monastery. The order failed to maintain its influence during this period, and the loss of land worsened the economic situation considerably, even if Silesia fell to the Catholic Habsburgs in 1526 .

After almost two centuries of decline, the situation was significantly improved under Abbot Rudolf von Hennersdorf. This development was initiated with the construction of the large gatehouse in 1601. This was followed by a renovation of the Marienkirche from 1608 to 1636, whereby it was also refurbished. In 1636 Arnold Freiberger, who had converted to Catholicism, was elected Abbot of Leubus. The further course of the Thirty Years' War (1618 - 1648) brought a setback . The monastery was occupied by enemy troops for the second time in 1638. This time it was the Swedes and their allied Saxons who plundered the church property. Even parts of the monastery library and archive were robbed by the occupiers and shipped down the Oder to Swedish-occupied Szczecin . There the valuable stocks fell victim to a fire in 1679. During the occupation, the monks had to flee to Wroclaw, which was not affected by acts of war.

Beginning of the heyday after the Thirty Years War

Painting by the Abbot from Leubus, Arnold Freiberger. Probably painted by Michael Willmann in the year of death of the then 83-year-old in 1672
Michael Willmann's crucifixion group for the Leubus monastery church. Today in the National Museum of Wroclaw

But after this protracted war, the age of the Counter Reformation began in what was then Austrian Silesia . In the period of reconstruction after the Thirty Years' War, numerous buildings in the Baroque style were built in Silesia and especially the new church buildings were intended to glorify the Catholic faith and the Habsburgs . A “golden age” began for the Leubus Monastery under its most important abbot, Arnold Freiberger. The many destroyed goods that were indispensable for the economy of the monastery were rebuilt and others were newly acquired. With the economic upswing, the enormous debts, especially taken on during the war, could be paid off. Of course, the reconstruction benefited from the promotion of Catholicism by the Habsburgs, who also financially supported the monastery of Leubus, which played an important role in re-Catholicization .

The monastery supported the Catholic parishes in the area mainly through building new churches, such as St. Valentine's Church in Leubus. But the surrounding duchies with their population that had become Protestant could not, despite partial successes, be fully regained for Catholicism. Such efforts failed not only because of the resistance of the inhabitants, but above all because of the counter-efforts of the sovereigns.

Not only the economy, but also the structure of the monastery was in a miserable condition after the war. Freiberger had found the monastery to be “completely desolate and desolate, as well as extremely desolate” and the Leubus bailiff , who wrote a chronicle of the abbey, also stated “that Gestifft is in such a flourishing condition at the time, as it had never been " . From 1649 to 1670 renovations and alterations took place, which were carried out for the first time in the Baroque style. Even if Leubus was a Cistercian monastery, which according to the rules of the order should have a simple construction, the new, lush artistic movement from Austria was very open-minded - and the good financial situation allowed the abbey to carry out relatively generous construction activities. Work on the church began first, followed by the construction of the new monastery school and new monastery cells . Outside the monastery, a park with fountains was created in 1649 , which was fed by specially designed water pipes. In 1670, Abbot Freiberger donated a gilded figure of the Virgin Mary that was placed in front of the main building and a smaller one that found its place in the town of Leubus. Both were probably made by the Liegnitz sculptor Matthias Knothe .

Supported by the situation throughout Austria, the Leubus Monastery regained great cultural importance. The year 1660 was an expression of this development. At that time Arnold Freiberger had recruited the painter Michael Willmann to work for the monastery. Before that, Willmann had worked at the Prussian court in Berlin and Königsberg , among other things , but in 1666 he opened his workshop in Leubus, where he was able to carry out lucrative commissions from the other Silesian Cistercian monasteries. In the 40 years that he spent in Leubus, the abbey became the center of Silesian baroque painting, thanks in part to its skilled workshop staff. Willmann died in 1706 and was buried in the monastery crypt, even if he was not a monk of the monastery and contrary to the rules of the order. This honored his great services that he had earned for the abbey.

Construction of the baroque complex

View of Leubus Abbey from the north-west;
Representation from the 18th century after FB Werner
The main facade of the monastery seen from the Oder; an engraving by Friedrich Bernhard Werner around 1750

In 1672, Johann Reich , a very capable bourgeois, was again elected Abbot of Leubus. It should be noted here that in times of the absolutist class society, especially the monasteries offered people from the bourgeoisie opportunities for advancement. In Leubus Abbey, the monks were not only predominantly Silesian, they were almost exclusively of bourgeois origin. Abbot Reich continued the work of his predecessor until 1691 and the good financial position of the monastery enabled him to redesign the monastery. So in the 1670s the plans were made that were to make Leubus a baroque complex on a European scale. The first construction project, the reconstruction of the Princely Chapel , had already started in 1670 under Reich's predecessor Freiberger and was completed ten years later. The redesign of the monastery church of the Assumption took place between 1672 and 1681. On October 15, the foundation stone was laid for the new building on the later east wing of the prelature , which is located north of the monastery church. The predominantly Gothic monastery buildings had previously been demolished. The two wings of the palace were completed in 1699, but due to lack of funds it was left at this stage for the time being.

Dominik Krausenberger became abbot in 1691, and in his only one year term of office he had Willmann paint the cupolas of the ambulatory (1690–1692) and erect a memorial for eight Breslau bishops who had been buried earlier in the monastery church. Under the new Abbot Balthasar Nitsche, the foundation stone was laid for the first parts of the convent building, the library and the monastery refectory . The convent building formed a square with an inner courtyard, adjoined the church to the south and was completed in 1715. As early as 1696, the next abbot followed, Ludwig Bauch , who directed the abbey until 1729. From 1726 to 1728 he had the baroque Leubus Abbot's Palace built in Liegnitz and with this city residence, which was provided with his coat of arms, set a sign of the new heyday of the Leubus monastery. But he also had an important baroque structure built in the monastery itself with the new double tower facade of the monastery church. In addition, a calvary was built on a hill near the town of Leubus in 1727 . The renovation of the monastery was completed under Abbot Nitsche, and the exterior is still in this form today. His successor Constantin Beyer was the client for the precious interior furnishings of the summer refectory, the monastery library and the prince's hall, all of which represent Baroque masterpieces.

Prussian period and secularization

"Leubus insane asylum from the east" 1870

While the monastery benefited from the Habsburg sovereigns and the Counter-Reformation led by them, the situation changed in 1742 and ended the abbey's great heyday. After the First Silesian War , victorious Prussia finally got almost all of Silesia and with it the Leubus Monastery in the Peace of Berlin . Even if the basic character of the new rule was tolerant, the revaluation of Protestantism initiated by Prussia inevitably had to damage the Catholic monastery. In addition to this significant loss of power, economic and financial problems also played a role in the decline of the monastery. Because as early as 1741 the monastery was committed to high contributions by Frederick II the Great . In the course of secularization in Prussia, the Leubus Monastery was also dissolved on November 21, 1810. This also nationalized the large land holdings of the monastery in 59 villages and 32 agricultural goods and the businesses located there. A year later, after the closure, 471 valuable paintings were outsourced, including several by Willmann, which were intended for the new Gemäldegalerie in Breslau. The same was done with parts of the monastery library and archives.

During the liberation wars against Napoleon Bonaparte in 1813, the monastery buildings were used as a hospital. After the end of the war, the hospital was no longer needed, so that in 1817 the royal Prussian Silesian State Stud Leubus was established in the monastery and a psychiatry in the buildings of the convent in 1823 . The prelature did not experience such a misuse and some rooms served as the rectory for the new parish . Because in 1818 the monastery church was converted into a parish church and the Loreto chapel now fulfilled the tasks of a sacristy . Over time, the authorities became aware of the high artistic value of the monastery premises, so that in 1898/99 the paintings in the prince's hall and the monastery library were renewed, which was repeated between 1906 and 1910. At the beginning of the 20th century, the monastery buildings were subjected to a major renovation, including the monastery church from 1934 to 1937. These restoration works were the last for more than 50 years.

Use in the Second World War and in the period thereafter

The south wing of the convent building

As early as 1936, the stud farm housed in the monastery was relocated to Fürstenstein in the Waldenburger Bergland . In May / June 1942, Telefunken factories and research laboratories for developing radar receivers and a company called “Schlesische Werkstätten Dr. Fürstenau & Co., GmbH ”. These companies worked for the armaments industry and the Nazi regime used forced laborers from Luxembourg to work, many of whom died because of the poor working conditions. From 1939 to 1942 V2 engines are said to have been manufactured in this factory and there was also talk of secret passages under the Oder . With regard to these fictional ideas, it must be taken into account that the Oder rises to the bottom of the basement of the monastery wing when the water is high . In January 1943, plans were drawn up to build high-voltage lines to the former monastery and a small sewage treatment plant was built. In addition, two bridges over the Oder were built and the area was equipped with fog systems to protect it from enemy aircraft. In March of the same year Gauleiter Karl Hanke visited the facility with a delegation from Telefunken. Of course, this relocated armaments area was kept secret and therefore the monastery grounds with the parish church and the rectory were closed. From January 25, 1945, the entire facility was evacuated, and the files were also destroyed or later lost. The functions of the monastery during World War II cannot be precisely determined due to contradicting testimonies and various rumors; the built structural infrastructure was probably interpreted as an indication of a presumably large-scale project. A memorial plaque was placed on the monastery in 1985 for the Luxembourg slave laborers who were only in the first phase in Leubus and who perished there.

The monastery did not experience any destruction from the direct effects of the war. Parts of the facility were relocated as a precaution towards the end of the war in 1944. In 1945, like all of Silesia, the monastery was renamed Polish and the village of Leubus was renamed Lubiąż. The outsourced works of art were largely preserved and were mostly taken to the National Museum in Wroclaw , the National Museum in Warsaw or in Warsaw churches that were rebuilt after the war .

After the war, soldiers of the Red Army were quartered in the monastery and later a hospital was set up for them in the monastery. The billeted soldiers wreaked havoc on the monastery. The valuable furnishings were deliberately destroyed and the works of art that had remained in the monastery, such as parts of the angel pews or the altars of the monastery church, like most other wooden elements, were burned in ovens. The stairs to the steeples were broken when the bells were thrown down. The 96 tombs of Leubus abbots and various dukes preserved in the monastery and crypts were broken into by the soldiers and searched for valuables. The rulership insignia of the buried Silesian dukes was also lost. The bones of the buried were thrown out of the graves so that they could not be assigned later. Only Michael Willmann's mummy could be identified again.

Decay and Reconstruction

One of the unrenovated corridors in the monastery

After the Red Army soldiers withdrew in 1950, the devastated monastery was no longer used and had no owner. Some rooms were used as storage, especially for leftover books, such as the summer refectory, in which books were stored up to the ceiling. After the last renovation in 1937, no further repairs inside or outside, let alone renovations, were carried out, so that the abbey fell into disrepair over the next few years. Of course, there were also political reasons for this, as the communist leadership of Poland showed no interest in Lubiąż because of the palace-like buildings and the historical importance of the monastery for German colonization. In 1962, the Wroclaw conservator initiated security measures, but these were discontinued due to lack of money.

After the political change in Poland in 1989 and the end of the communist dictatorship, repair work began again for the first time. For this purpose, a foundation for the monastery, the Fundacja Lubiąż , was established on September 9, 1989 , which finally put the unclear ownership situation in order and became the owner of the entire monastery premises. The foundation continues to renovate the monastery with donations to this day. She receives financial support from the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation , among others . In 1996 the restoration of the prince's hall was completed, the hall was opened to visitors and in 2000 the 2.5 hectare roofs of the monastery were re-covered. The monastery buildings were secured in a complex process with hundreds of anchors embedded in the walls and the statics were relieved. As one of the most important baroque complexes in Europe and because of its great importance for Polish history, the abbey also has the status of a listed building of class 0, which is the highest category for Polish architectural monuments. In 1990 the Council of Europe decided to set up a Cistercian cultural path to which the Leubus Monastery is connected, along with other Cistercians in Europe. The Fundacja Lubiąż would like to reuse the monastery in the future, but needs investors for this. Michael Jackson visited the monastery in 1997 after his concert in Poland. He was looking for a large and remote castle, and after initial interest, he finally gave up the idea of ​​buying the monastery.

Current and planned use

Exhibition in a cloister
Double tower facade of the monastery church
The empty interior of the monastery church to the east

At the moment, very few rooms are used. The main preserved halls are open for group tours. In the summer refectory and in the northern part of the prelature, there are annually changing exhibitions on Silesian topics, organized by the Silesian House Association. The Fürstensaal was already used as a ballroom when it was built and today offers a dignified setting, also for concerts.

For two decades there have been unrealistic ideas about the use of the abbey. Since then, an investor has been sought for the further renovation work who could take over at least parts of the 23,000 m² monastery building. A (not undisputed) feasibility study was presented, according to which a conference and training center should be set up in the former prelature . The large halls should have enabled seminars and other gatherings. The convent building would then be converted into a luxury hotel and there are plans to provide the inner courtyard with a glass roof. It was also planned to use the former monastery church for exhibitions, galleries, concerts and other cultural events. In the former bakery and brewery, a mid-price hotel with a restaurant would be built, which is primarily geared towards tourists and young people. The remaining farm buildings on the site were to be restored and supplemented by new, adapted buildings. The Jakobskirche located opposite the monastery church was offered as a religious- ecumenical center. The large monastery park, which became overgrown in the post-war period, should be laid out again as a baroque garden using contemporary images. A sports field could be built outside the monastery walls. All these beautiful visions have been known for a long time and have been unreached for just as long. While other former Silesian Cistercian complexes have been carefully and continuously upgraded with considerable funding from EU funds, adjusted for new uses and given new tasks overall, the situation in Leubus is not very promising. The structural appearance is characterized by a large discrepancy. The only restored facade of the gatehouse and the new roof coverings represent the efforts of the supporting foundation, which has long been overtaxed with the overall facility.

Building history and equipment

The building history, the current appearance and the fittings of all buildings concern the monastery church , the monastery wings with their most important halls, the other farm buildings as well as the Jakobskirche .

Monastery Church of the Assumption

Floor plan of the monastery church. 1 main portal; 2 vestibule; 3 prelature; 4 convent buildings; 5 Loreto Chapel, 6 Prince Chapel; 7 ambulatory chapels; 8 former high altar
The Loreto Chapel from the north

A wooden church was built before the Cistercian convent arrived from Pforta. With the increasing importance of the monastery, a new church building became necessary, which was carried out around the year 1200. The Romanesque church was a simple, three-aisled basilica with a straight choir closure. This corresponded to the rules of the order of the Cistercians. However, the church is said to have had a front tower - unusual for Cistercians. The church was the first building in Poland to be made of brick and also vaulted .

Later renovations left hardly anything of the Romanesque body. An important relic of this church is the piscina in the choir. The water basin had a long, hollow column shaft so that the water could drain away. The capital-like structure was particularly important, as it showed a chiseled and symmetrical representation of two birds eating from grapevines.

The monastery church got its present form towards the end of the 13th century. The old Romanesque church was demolished and the foundations were partly used for the larger successor building. Brick bricks were chosen again as building material and natural stone for architectural details. The building deviated from the west-east axis to the north. The three-aisled floor plan with a straight end of the choir was retained and supplemented by a rectangular ambulatory. The floor plan of the Gothic complex resembled a cross, even if the transept arms did not extend beyond the outer walls of the aisles. The length of the church building was laid out at around 65 m and the width at around 28 m. The choir extends over three bays , with the crossing the nave begins with another five bays. Looking at the area of ​​the monastery church, the result is 1703 m², the cube has a capacity of 44,000 m³.

The entire church was vaulted with ribbed vaults, which were closed by keystones with plant patterns. Star vaults were only created in the transept and a keystone with a representation of the Lamb of God was preserved. The transept and choir were completed in 1330 and then consecrated by Bishop Nanker. The vaults and the western nave were completed in the third quarter of the 14th century. The windows, and above all the arches, contained raised pointed arches that rested on four-part bundle pillars.

The Hussites pillaged the church in 1432. The damage was repaired in 1508 when the interior was restored. Abbot Andreas Hoffmann already had a choir stalls in 1502 , a sacraments house made of sandstone by Leonhard Gogel from Breslau in 1504 , and a new organ donated in 1505.

In the 17th century the church was redesigned several times, although it retained its Gothic structure. In keeping with the taste of the Renaissance , Abbot Matthias Rudolf had the interior of the church repainted at the beginning of the century, and the choir was given new furnishings with a high altar, pulpit and choir stalls. After the looting by the Swedes in 1638, the church had to be repaired again. Abbot Freiberger had the church renovated and a new organ bought for 1000 thalers . Even if the old choir stalls had survived the war, they were dismantled in 1656 and the choir was separated from the ambulatory and nave by a choir screen made of pink marble . The seven paintings of martyrdoms of the Apostles commissioned from Michael Willmann at the same time were also baroque . They measured 3 × 4 m and were hung in the choir.

The interior of the church was comprehensively rendered in Baroque style. From 1672 to 1682 the aisles were widened, with barrel vaults like the south transept . The Gothic arches and the pillars of the central nave were fundamentally redesigned, in which profiled round arches were faded in front of them and pilasters resting on consoles were attached under the vault. "Open" chapels were built on the north and south corners of the ambulatory, covered with domes and provided with altars of St. Benedict and St. Bernard . The domes were decorated with stucco work and frescoes in 1691/92. In the ambulatory there is also a memorial to eight Wroclaw bishops buried in the church and a valuable choir grille from 1701. In 1781 a new high altar was erected, for which Michael Willmann made the sculptures and Matthias Steinl made the sculptures. Michael Willmann created a total of 14 masterpieces of baroque painting for the church. At the beginning of the 18th century, the church was given a splendid front with the new main facade. The new twin towers were crowned with baroque domes and the newly created space became the vestibule. A baroque portal led from there into the church. A Loreto chapel was also built north of the transept , which was very popular and widespread in Europe at the time. A renovation took place from 1934 to 1937, during which mainly the Gothic tracery windows were renewed.

Apart from a few picture frames , the choir screen, the wrought-iron choir grille and the polychromies of the chapels, which have been renewed, nothing has been preserved from the furnishings of the monastery church . Today the church is almost in its original Gothic appearance, as all baroque decorations have been removed or, like most of the altars, burned. A few remains remained from the organ and the pulpit. In the meantime the windows and the roof have been repaired and a new floor has been laid.

Angel stalls

One of the most important works of the Silesian Baroque was the choir stalls known as "angel stalls". It was created around 1700 by Matthias Steinl, who had already carved the high altar. Lush foliage, interspersed with around 50 putti , adorned the stalls, which were surmounted by ten angels making music. Even before the end of the war, the plant was dismantled and some of it was outsourced. The part that remained in Leubus was burned. Today his remains are mainly exhibited in the ducal castle in Brzeg .

Princely Chapel

Interior of the Princely Chapel

The prince's chapel, built between 1311 and 1329, is attached to the northeast corner of the ambulatory. It was built on a cross or cloverleaf floor plan and surrounded by supporting pillars. It received 5/8 choir closings on three sides, whereby it is assumed that master builders from the Middle Rhine built this only Silesian three-corner complex. The ribbed vault received keystones with figural sculptural decoration. From 1670, the chapel was redesigned over a ten-year period and the roof was crowned with a baroque ridge turret. Most significant, however, were the new allegorical polychromies on the vault, which depict the history and deeds of the Silesian Piasts . In addition, curved consoles were attached to support the vault.

Nothing has been preserved from the old furnishings, including an altarpiece by Michael Willmann from 1681. Some of it has been relocated and some of it has been destroyed. From the old main altar of the chapel only the altar table and a fresco, which probably served as a monstrance background, remained. In addition, a shattered figure remained on the floor in front of the altar and gives an idea of ​​the appearance of the other sculptures. Only the frescoes remained undamaged and were renovated. The valuable tomb of Boleslaus III. († 1352), which was placed in the center of the chapel, can be viewed in the Wroclaw National Museum .

Monastery development

Site plan of the monastery grounds: 1 monastery church; 2 prelature; 3 summer refectory; 4 Fürstensaal; 5 convent buildings; 6 monastery refectory; 7 library; 8 brewery and bakery; 9 craftsmen's buildings; 10 St. Jacob's Church; 11 House of the monastery officials; 12 monastery chancellery; 13 monastery barn; 14 monastery hospital; 15 gatehouse
The summer refectory

The main development of the Leubus Abbey is divided into two parts. To the north of the monastery church is the prelature , which was built between 1681 and 1699 . It consists of a north wing and a 118 m long east wing, which are connected to form an L and take up an area of ​​6,350 m² and a volume of 87,800 m³.

The convent building begins to the south of the church and is laid out around a square inner courtyard. The convent building, which was built between 1692 and 1710, has 30 rooms on each of its three floors and a total area of ​​6,402 m² or a volume of 190,000 m³. The rooms of the convent suffered the greatest damage and misappropriation in the post-war period, and the many smaller rooms are still in need of restoration. A curiosity of the stairwell is a frieze painted by soldiers of the Red Army, which shows images of hammer and sickle and communist stars.

The two wings, divided by pilasters, together with the double tower front of the monastery church, form the 223 m long main facade, which is even longer than that of the Escorial. In the meantime, both wings have been secured and the most important of the more than 300 rooms have been restored.

Summer refectory

The summer refectory is located in the northern wing of the prelature . For the refectory, Abbot Johann Reich Michael Willmann had the vault frescoed from 1690 to 1691. In his first work of this kind, Willmann created a mythological apotheosis of a virtuous hero. In the lower part of the picture, the god of wine Dionysus lives with his entourage, the virtuous is led by Athena from the vicious world to Heracles , who holds a laurel wreath ready for him. The rectangular main painting is surrounded by 14 smaller medallions that continue the theme and are embedded in white stucco. This is where the appearance of the summer refectory differs from the other rooms. There are some antique furniture in the hall and there are also various art exhibitions organized by the Museum of Silesian Regional Studies.


Portal of the Princely Hall
The west side of the Fürstensaal with a gallery

The Fürstensaal is 28.5 meters long, 14.8 meters wide and a height of 13.9 meters and the largest room of the monastery Leubus and also the most important - for Georg Dehio "has the most magnificent ballroom, the Silesia." He was restored in 1990–1995 and opened to visitors. The Prince's Hall forms the eastern end of the prelature, the long corridor of which leads to the moving baroque portal that occupies the entire front wall. The entrance to the Fürstensaal is flanked by two larger-than-life atlases , an Indian and a Moor . The upper end of the polychrome portal frame, made of white stucco, forms the abbey coat of arms with two shield holders .

Even if the Fürstensaal occupies two floors, the window arrangement was retained so that the room layout cannot be guessed from the outside. There is a gallery on the west side of the hall. The space is structured by double window axes, the pillars in between by double pilasters with composite capitals . On the long side, the room extends over four and on the broad side over two window axes. Between the two rows of windows are ten volutengeschmückte paintings by Christian Philipp Bentum admitted that scenes from the life of Empress Elisabeth Christine show. Above them are busts of Habsburg rulers. The representative ballroom was built in the last construction phase of the monastery from 1734 to 1738 and is one of the most magnificent of the European Baroque.

The bright solemnity is achieved through the large windows and bright stucco marble surfaces, which contrast with the rather dark works of art. The stucco marble of some of the wall surfaces and the pilaster is pink, the surfaces between the pilasters and the expansive cornice that delimits the ceiling are ocher-colored.

The various plastic elements, such as statues and sculptures , were created from stucco marble that was poured over a brick framework. These works of art were made by the sculptor Franz Joseph Mangoldt . Ignaz Albrecht Provisore worked here as a plasterer . Between the windows there are twelve such statues on cylindrical bases, including three depictions of emperors, assigned to them six allegories of virtues and three sculptures from the field of Greek mythology.

The emperors appear in general outfits as triumphers over the enemies of the Habsburgs and Catholicism, i.e. figures from the Turkish wars or devils and demons, and are flanked by allegorical figures. On the south side is the statue of Emperor Joseph I , surrounded by sculptures of bravery ( Virtus Heroica ) and generosity ( Liberalitas ). On the north wall Leopold I is flanked by depictions of justice ( Iustitia ) and prudentia ( Prudentia ). The then regent Charles VI holds a prominent position . to, which occupies the front of the hall. His motto strength ( Fortitudo ) and constancy ( Constantia ) accompany him in the corners of the room .

In the west of the room a statue of Atlas forms the center. This carries the globe on his shoulders and supports the overhanging gallery. In the corner on his left is Apollo with the lyre in his right arm. In the other corner, in front of Marsyas playing the flute, little Pan holds the syrinx to his head with both hands .

The cornice stands out clearly from the other elements. At the corners are the personifications of the four continents : a bull symbolizes Europe, an elephant Asia, a camel Africa and finally a lion America.

The dominant work of art in the hall is the ceiling painting, which extends over 360 square meters. These are ten paintings that are attached to the wooden ceiling structure and together make up "one of the largest oil paintings on the ceiling in art history". Its creator Christian Philipp Bentum has immortalized himself in the south corner with a self-portrait and a signature including the year 1732. In the ceiling painting, the iconographic program of the Princely Hall reaches its climax with glorifications of the Silesian Piasts, who founded the monastery, the Habsburg monarchy, which Leubus owed its heyday, and the Catholic Church . On the edge of the western part of the ceiling painting, the defeat of the Battle of Liegnitz (1241) with the Silesian Duke Heinrich II is depicted. Heinrich's ancestor Boleslaw I in the ahistorical military garb indicates its founding, the monastery monastery Leubus, shown in perspective in its baroque appearance. Putti with the monastery coat of arms rise to his right. On the opposite side there is Maria Theresa as aurora in front of new battle scenes, which depict the “victory of the Catholic faith over demons, vices and heresies”. In the north, the long sides show the scene of Maria Theresa's marriage to Franz Stephan von Lothringen , which is flanked by personifications of power and moderation and the victory of Chronos over Vanitas . On the opposite side are the three Parzen .

The structure of the two wall fields of the gallery rear wall is symmetrical with Rococo wall paintings. A monastery coat of arms is shown in each case, surrounded by playful rocailles and floral motifs. Opposite the door of the southern wall panel is a correspondingly illusionist painting.

After the Second World War, the individual canvas panels were torn from their holders, whereupon they fell to the floor of the hall. They were later stored on easels , only to be put back in place during the thorough renovation of the hall in the mid-1990s.

Monastery refectory

The restored vault in the monastery refectory
Silence when eating

The monastery monastery Leubus has a second refectory, which is located on the ground floor of the southern end of the convent building: the monastery refectory . In terms of location, it is similar to the Fürstensaal and has three window sides with four or two double window axes. Unlike the Fürstensaal, the refectory has a vaulted ceiling. The ceiling paintings from 1733 come from the hand of Felix Anton Scheffler and show, in keeping with the use as a dining room at the time, the biblical scene of the feeding of the 5,000 . The large fresco is surrounded by eight smaller, oval paintings that deal with the lives of Bernhard von Clairvaux and Benedikt von Nursia. A curved portal made of black marble with the year 1706 and an extract from the rule of the order leads into the hall: “ SUMMUM FIAT SILENTIUM AD MENSAM. CAP: 38 REG: “, which indicates the silence during the meal. The frescoes have been completely renovated and the floor has now been re-laid.


The monastery library is located above the refectory of the convent building . It occupies the second and third floors, which results in a ceiling height of 12 m. Thus, it is not only one of the most beautiful, but also the largest baroque library in Silesia. Like the refectory on the ground floor, the location of the library allows light to enter from three sides through the double rows of windows. On the 3rd floor there is a gallery with a balustrade, which means that the entire height of the room remains open. Bookshelves were set up between the windows in front of the pillars , otherwise there was a cupboard in the hall that extended over the entire south wall. As a year to the left of the entrance above the gallery attests, the painting of the hall was created in 1737 by Philipp Bentum, who, among other things, also painted the ceiling of the Fürstensaal for Leubus. There are also no painted or plastic stucco or decorative elements. An inscription on the painting also mentions Abbot Constantin Beyer as a patron of the arts.

The monastery library is the last large hall to be restored. The renovation of the large baroque paintings has been completed, but the furnishings have not been preserved.

Commercial and administrative building

Gatehouse before restoration (2006)
Gatehouse after restoration (2012)

The northernmost building of the monastery complex is the gatehouse , which forms the entrance to Lubiąż via a bridge. The gate dates from after the Hussite Wars and was built for defensive purposes. It got its current appearance from the new building from 1601, which was executed in the style of the late Renaissance / early Baroque. The figures of Saint Benedict of Nursia and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux are located in niches under the triangular gable.

To the south is the former monastery hospital . Next to it is the one-story monastery barn with its two characteristic bat dormers . Since its renovation, the barn has housed a restaurant, the " Karczma Cysterska ", which is still entered through a wooden barn door .

The nearby monastery chancellery, the house of the monastery officials and the craftsman's house come from a construction phase and were built at the beginning of the 18th century according to the same model. Because they are two-story and were equipped with replicas of the monastery dormers and a hipped roof. The walls of these houses are structured by simple pilasters and they only differ from one another by their different floor plans. The monastery chancellery , which was built on an almost square floor plan and has a sundial , is designed as a corner building . To the west of it is the house of the monastery officials , which is almost three times as long as the office. To the south of this building is the craftsman's house , which was laid out in an L-shape and whose wings frame the Jakobskirche.

The brewing and baking house is arranged at an angle between the craftsmen's house and the convent building . The large building was erected at the beginning of the 18th century and rebuilt several times. It was laid out generously with two floors and two attic floors and provided with a mansard roof.

All the buildings on the monastery grounds are in poor condition and, above all, their facades and wooden roof trusses need to be restored. In addition, most of the structures are still inhabited and their future use is uncertain, but most of them will probably continue to be used as residential buildings or as storage or administrative buildings.


The second church in the monastery complex is the Jakobskirche, first mentioned in 1202 . It is exactly in line with the monastery church and is arranged in front of the monastery facade and behind the bakery. Today's baroque church was built in the 1690s and given a cross-shaped floor plan and a curved east facade. The church is single-nave and has a straight choir connection. First the building was used as a parish church for secular monastery servants and also for Leubus citizens. After 1810 the monastery church became a parish church and the Jakobskirche became a Protestant church. Before that, it had served as an arsenal for a short time . The church was looted in the post-war period. Apart from a new roof, which was installed between 1960 and 1964, the structure did not undergo any restoration work. The Jakobskirche has not been used to this day and the statics of the building must be strengthened by securing work, as the vaults and the outer walls show cracks.


  1. See website of the Cistercians
  2. a b See website of the city of Hilden
  3. ^ HF Mataré : Experiences of a German physicist and engineer from 1912 to the end of the century . In: The telecommunications engineer . 4/01, 5/01 (in one volume). Verlag für Wissenschaft und Leben Georg Heidecker GmbH, April 2001, ISSN  0015-010X , p. 1-109 .
  4. See Polish website "Tajemnice Dolnego Śląska" ( Secrets of Lower Silesia ): (online at: wroclaw.magma-net.pl ) ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  5. See newspaper report by Przegląd Polski from May 19, 2000 ( Memento from August 29, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  6. See description of the destruction on sztuka.net ( Memento from January 21, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Tanja Dückers: Strange happy sounds. In: Berliner Zeitung . March 6, 2006, accessed June 10, 2015 .
  8. See newspaper report by Przegląd Polski
  9. See planned use on the Foundation's website
  10. See Czesław Thullie: Zabytki architektoniczne Ziemi Śląskiej na tle rozwoju architektury w Polsce. Kattowitz 1965, p. 38.
  11. See Hans Lutsch: Schlesiens Kunstdenkmäler. Breslau 1903, p. 9.
  12. ^ Dehio, Georg: Handbook of German Art Monuments (Volume 2): Northeast Germany (Berlin, 1906). Retrieved November 15, 2017 .


  • Franz Winter : The Cistercians of north-eastern Germany. A contribution to the church and cultural history of the German Middle Ages . Volume 2: From the appearance of the mendicant orders to the end of the 13th century . Gotha 1871, pp. 282-286.
  • Wattenbach: Martin Sebastian Dittmann's chronicle of the Aebte von Leubus . In: Journal of the Association for History and Antiquity of Silesia ( Richard Roepell , ed.). Year 1856, Issue 2, Breslau 1856, pp. 271–397. .
  • Olgierd Górka: About the beginnings of the Leubus Monastery. Wroclaw 1913.
  • Paul Wels: History of the Leubus Monastery and its meaning. Liegnitz 1921.
  • Aloysius Bollmann: The secularization of the Cistercian monastery Leubus. Breslau 1932 (= individual writings on Silesian history, 9).
  • Konstanty Kalinowski: Lubiąż. Wroclaw 1970.
  • Konstanty Klemens Jażdżewski: Lubiąż - losy i culture umysłowa śląskiego opactwa cystersów (1163–1642). Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, Breslau 1993, ISBN 83-229-0737-0 .
  • Stephan Kaiser: Leubus Monastery. Regensburg 1998, ISBN 3-7954-5938-9 .
  • Waldemar P. Könighaus: The Cistercian Abbey Leubus in Silesia from its foundation to the end of the 15th century. (Sources and studies of the German Historical Institute Warsaw, vol. 15). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2004, ISBN 3-447-05069-1 .
  • Andrzej Kosioł (ed.): Koscioł klasztorny Wniebowziecia MNP w Lubiążu: Historia, stan zachowacnia, koncepcja rewitalizacji. (Acta Universitatis Wratislaviensis, vol. 3253; Historia Sztuki / Uniwersytet Wrocławski, vol. 30). Wroclaw 2010, ISBN 978-83-229-3159-2 .
  • Ewa Luzyniecka: Architektura klasztorów cysterskich = The architecture of cistercian monasteries: Filie lubiaskie i inne cenobia Slaskie = Daughter houses of Lubiaz and other Silesian. Breslau 2002, ISBN 83-7085-675-6 .

Secondary literature

  • Hans Lutsch: Silesia's art monuments . Breslau 1903. (Building history of the monastery in the whole Silesian context)
  • Czesław Thullie: Zabytki architektoniczne Ziemi Śląskiej na tle rozwoju architektury w Polsce. Kattowitz 1965. (corresponds to the work of Hans Lutsch)
  • Barbara König: Zabytki architektury sakralnej . Katowice 2004, ISBN 83-7183-307-5 (the most important Polish sacred buildings in alphabetical order, including the Leubus Monastery)

Web links

Commons : Leubus Monastery  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files