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The foundation
of the former Cistercian
monastery in Kolbacz

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Historic Monuments


Kolbacz – the foundation of a former Cistercian monastery, later summer residence of the Pomeranian dukes and a state domain – was declared a Monument of History by a decree of the President of the Republic of Poland on 3 July 2014. (Journal of Laws 2014, item 955).

The aim of the protection of the historical monument in Kołbacz is the preservation, due to its historical, artistic and scientific values, both tangible and intangible, of the post-Cistercian foundation, which is an outstanding example of the turn of the Romanesque and Gothic periods, distinguished by innovative architectural solutions and high-class detail, as well as by the unique carpentry structure of the nave of the church, adapted in the 16th century as a granary.


Cistercians from Kolbacz -
builders and farmers

During the Middle Ages, the Kolbata monastery played an important role in the Griffin state, both in religious and secular life. From the very first years of its existence, it gave rise to other monastic establishments – such as the abbey in Oliva, founded in 1286, or the monasteries in Bierzwnik and Mironice.

The Kolbacki Monastery Church was not only the most impressive building of the turn of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Western Pomerania. It also served as the necropolis of the Pomeranian dukes. In 1186, the founder of the monastery, the castellan of Szczecin, related to the ruling Gryfit dynasty, Warcisław II Świętoborzyc, was laid to rest in the first, probably still wooden, temple. Almost a century later, one of the most eminent rulers of Pomerania, Duke Barnim I (1220-1278), was laid to rest in the presbytery of the present church.

The buildings in Kolbach that have survived to the present day are testimony to the economic power of the local monastery, which played an important role in the development of the economy in Western Pomerania in the Middle Ages. Modern farming techniques were introduced in the vast Cistercian domain, and a number of mills were built thanks to the damming up of the waters of the River Płoni.

After the Reformation, this economic activity continued within the princely and then royal domain. Secularised during the Reformation, the monastery was transformed into a residence for the dukes of Pomerania and, in Prussian times, the seat of the royal domain management. In the 16th century, the well-known sculptor Hans Schenk Scheusslich, among others, worked on the interior of the ducal flats. The interior of the nave of the church, which was converted into a granary and divided into four storeys by wooden ceilings, is evidence of the transformation of the monastery in the post-Reformation period. Dating back to the 17th century, the ceilings and their supports form the oldest and largest carpentry structure preserved in the region.

Testimony to the power of the monastery

The buildings in Kolbach that have survived to the present day are testimony to the economic power
of the local monastery, which played an important role in the development of the economy in Western Pomerania in the Middle Ages. Modern farming techniques were introduced in the vast Cistercian domain, and a number of mills were built thanks to the damming up of the waters of the River Płoni.


Founding of a convent at Kolbacz, based on the Cistercian monastery at Esrom in Denmark.


Fundation of the abbey. The castellan of Szczecin, Warcislaw II Swietoborzyc, founds the monastery. The foundation takes place with the consent of the Danish ecclesiastical authorities and in the presence of a witness - the bishop of Schwerin.


The foundation is approved by Duke Boguslaw I - specifies the land endowment (6 villages), exempts the monastery from various fees.


Arrival of the convent of Esrom in Denmark.


First mention of monks in Kołbacz: "fratres Cisterciensis Ordinis".


Beginning of church construction - "monasterium nostrum inceptum est sub abbate Rudolfo X. Kal. Aprilis" - Phase I of construction.


Fire of the monastery.


Lightning strike on the church tower at the junction of the aisles - the eastern part with chancel, apse, chapels, transept and two bays of the body was already in place.


Phase II of construction - central and western parts.

Po 1300

Phase III of construction


Duke Otto I founds the cemetery chapel of the Virgin Mary and the Angels.


Under Abbot Ditmar, on All Saints' Eve, the cross, stalls and ducal tumuli were placed in the choir of the converts (end of construction?).


Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's altars mentioned.


Consecration of the three altars.


Duke Barnim III funds an altar in honour of the Virgin Mary and St. Otto.


Consecration of the monastery church by Bishop John (Duke of Saxe-Lauburg) as well as two other bishops and five abbots, in the presence of Duke Barnim III.


Completion of the wall around the monastery.


Restoration of the monastery mill - Master Stephan of Königsberg, construction of a bakery (Master Michael Tyde).


The monastery is inhabited by 12 monks, 11 converts, 14 servants and three sick in the hospital. Election of the last abbot Bartholomew Schobbe.


The Diet of Trzebiatow decides to accept the Reformation and abolish monasteries in Western Pomerania.


Abbot Bartholomew renounces the dignity of abbot, receiving from Duke Barnim IX a lifetime indemnity in the form of a manor in Kolowo and tributes in kind and money.


Establishment of the ducal domain in Kolbacz - it includes 39 villages and manorial settlements


Prince Boguslaw XIII commissions the Berlin architect Kacper Theis and the sculptor Hans Schenk Scheusslich to convert the Kolbacz monastery into a ducal castle.


A relief of the portal lintel with the ducal coat of arms is created.


Duke Boguslaw XIII orders the addition of an extra floor above the monastery building. The ground floor was occupied by Duke Ulrich, the first floor by Philip II, and the second floor by the Duchess and her frauchess. The refectory was converted into a feasting and ballroom.


Backfilling of the sewers draining the waste from the monastery on the north and south sides.


Stay in Kolbacz by Eilhard Lubinus, who immortalised the Kolbach monastery on his map of Pomerania.


Actions of the Thirty Years' War, Swedish occupation, pawning of the Kolbacz estate for 100,000 thalers, looting. After the expulsion of the Imperial army, Kolbacz in the possession of Swedish Gen. Wrangel.


Peace of Westphalia. Division of the Kolbacz estate into a western part - Swedish and eastern - Prussian.


Border treaty, transfer of Kolbacz to Prussian authorities. Monastery in ruins, refectory threatened to collapse.


Lightning strikes the bell tower - fire in the church and the four-storey granary (nave of the church); only 4 walls remain of the latter.


Peace of Stockholm - Kolbacz estate (domain) completely within Prussia.

Po 1720

Demolition of the monastery buildings, the cloisters and partly the east and south wings.


Renovation of the abbot's house for use as a domain management.


Closing of the Kolbacz paper mill.


Construction of a tower and signal box at the junction of the church aisles. This tower was 70 feet high, consisting of a shaft 20 feet on a side and 30 feet high, and a two-storey cupola.


Regulation of the water system, digging of the new Ploni Canal, lowering the level of Lake Miedwie by approx. 2.5 m.


Dismantling of the mills on the Plonia River.


Karl Friedrich Gaede (after his father Daniel Gaede) becomes hereditary tenant of the domain.


Construction of the new domain management building.

Po 1806

Contribution imposed by the French, the administrator Goede buys the domain and sells it to the merchant Krause from Swinoujscie.


Division of the domain into three parts with centres in Pyrzyce, Maszewo and Podles near Nowogard.


Sale of Kolbacz with the granges Heidchen (Nieznan), Hofdamm (Debina) and the village Glinna (Glien) to the previous tenant Karl Friedrich Gaedy. Kolbacz is given the status of a knight's estate.


Kolbach estate burdened with forced deliveries of over 6,000 thalers. As a result of the requisitioning of food supplies, furs and horses by Russian and Prussian troops, the estate suffers heavy losses.


Redemption of the Kolbacz estate with manors by Gaede's creditor, the secret trade councillor Friedrich Wilhelm Krause from Swinoujscie.


Kołbacz wraz z folwarkami w posiadaniu dzieci F.W. Krausego; już w 1837 r. zwraca się on do króla z prośbą o wykup tych zadłużonych majątków.


Kolbacz together with the manors in the possession of F.W. Krause's children; as early as 1837 he asks the King to redeem these indebted estates.


Stettin building inspector Kraft takes stock of the monastery complex.


Partial restoration of the church, building inspector Hermann Staff. New cross-ribbed vaults in the chancel, refurbishment of the tower with bell tower. Abbot's house to be used as a court building. Work supervised by Ferdinand von Quast.


Reactivation of the Kolbacz domain, moving the domain management from Podlesie to Kolbacz.


Renovation of the granary part of the church.


The domain is taken over by the last German administrator, Karl Ludwig Barths.


The farm in Kolbacz is taken over by the 2nd Regiment of the Agrarian Division of the Polish Army.


PGR Kolbacz is established.


Repair of the church roof.


Archaeological research (Jerzy Kruppe, Mirosława Gajewska-Kruppe, Ludmiła Zajdel - supervision Zbigniew Radacki). Exposing the foundations of the southern nave of the church, establishing the course of the cloisters and the extent of the walls of the southern part of the west wing.


Archaeological research (Zbigniew Radacki, Jerzy Kruppe, Antoni Kasinowski) - uncovering the foundations of the cloisters, and the inner corners of the west and south wings, the foundations of the side aisles, establishing the width of the south and east wings, uncovering the east wall of the east wing.


Renovation of the trusses and roof of the church chancel.


Archaeological research - (Zbigniew Radacki, Jerzy Kruppe, Antoni Kasinowski) - capturing the length of the refectory, the end of the west wing from the south, the well in the cemetery.


Demolition of a 16th century barn (cowshed?).


Establishment of a pig fattening unit, subordinate to the Zootechnical Experimental Plant in Krakow.


Renovation of the former Domain Management Board is completed and the building is adapted as the headquarters of the ZDZ.


Securing the house of the converts.


Settlement of the "agri-city".


Reconstruction of the conversions wing.


Collapse of the church bell tower.


Archaeological research at the abbot's house.


Remont gotyckiej stodoły.


A copy of the Gothic triptych from Ciecmierz is placed in the church.


Acquisition of the western part of the church by the parish.


Renovation of roof and tower.


Conservation of the pulpit.


Restoration of the signature tower, roof and church (west section).


Renovation of the church façade and the granary including maintenance of the rosette.


Cistercian architecture
in Kolbacz

The monastery church in Kolbacz, built from 1210, is the oldest Cistercian church in northern Poland and, along with the cathedral in Kamien Pomorski, is also the earliest example of the use of brick in this area. Subsequent extensions resulted in the most complex variant of the characteristic Cistercian architectural design.

The centre of the establishment is the former claustrum with the church, to which the west wing of the monastery with the convent house is adjoined on the south side. Originally, there were two other monastery wings – to the east and south. A little further to the south-east was the so-called small claustrum, of which the abbot’s house still survives. To the north of the monastery was the farm section, in which the Gothic barn, a former sheepfold, has been preserved. The whole surpasses in scale all contemporary monastery foundations east of the Oder and rivals the most impressive foundations in the pre-Odrich part of Pomerania, Mecklenburg or Brandenburg (such as Doberan, Eldena, Chorin, Lehnin).

The first Romanesque construction phase (between 1210 and 1247) dates back to the eastern part of the Kolbacz church – the presbytery, once closed with a semicircular apse, the transept with pairs of chapels (of which the chapels at the south wing have survived), the two bays of the three-nave body, as well as the perimeter walls of the two side wings of the monastery.

The layout of the church, the detailing and the use of bricks all point, according to researchers, to a connection between the oldest phase of construction and Denmark, from where the Kolbata convent originated. Slightly less importance is attributed to the influence of Brandenburg, especially the monastery church in Lehnin (which, like that of Kolbacz, has an apse-like closure to the east). The best and most stylistically advanced workshops of northern Europe were drawn upon at the very beginning of the construction of the Kolbacz monastery. An avant-garde motif was the use of pointed arches in the arcades between the transept and the chapels and in the refectory windows of the west wing. The Romanesque parts of the building are among the most interesting monuments of this period in Poland, and are unique in many respects, which is worth emphasising in view of the poor state of preservation of Romanesque architecture in our country. The second, early Gothic phase of the construction of the Cistercian church and monastery in Kolbacz, which lasted until 1307, is characterised by the predominance of Brandenburgian influences. A basilica-like nave was created at this time, along with a monumental western façade topped with a gable decorated with the famous Kolbach rosette.

kolbacz-od_poludnia gigapanorama


projection and mass

The Cistercian church in Kolbacz presented the most elaborate variant of the temple of this order: a basilica-like nave body (with side aisles originally lower than the main one), a transept with pairs of chapels to the east and a presbytery – originally closed with a semicircular apse, extended in the 14th century and closed with a Gothic trilateral apse. This image is distorted as a result of transformations in the post-Reformation period – the demolition of the side aisles and the southern pair of chapels and the conversion of the nave into a granary. What remains is the tower at the intersection of the naves, which now has a neo-Gothic form.

As in few historical buildings, they make it possible to distinguish the individual phases of construction.  According to the well-known art historian Zygmunt Swiechowski, the phases and stages of construction, […] here are drawn with the clarity of an ideal training object for younger students of art history. The Kolbacki church and monastery was the first example of the use of brick in Western Pomerania. The skill of constructing brick buildings came to Kolbacz from Denmark, probably from the mother monastery in Esrom. The walls of the Kolbacz buildings were erected using large sized bricks carefully laid in a Vendian and Gothic thread. In terms of style, the buildings present Late Romanesque and Gothic forms in various stages of the latter style.


Former sheepfold,
later barn

The building was erected in the first half of the 14th century, during the second, early Gothic phase of the abbey’s construction, by a Brandenburg or Pomeranian thatch builder. It was originally intended to serve as a sheepfold with a vaulted, three-nave interior (as evidenced by the vault resistances visible inside). It is possible that the vaults were never realised, but it is possible that they were only demolished in the modern period, when the Cistercian farm was turned into a domain.

It is also possible that even in the Middle Ages the function of the building was changed to that of a barn, bricking up most of the openings. In the modern period, the roof had a hipped form with half-timbered gables. Probably in the 19th century the roof form was changed to gable with skylights in the form of “wolf’s eyes” and the covering to thatch. After 1945, the covering was replaced with plain tile. Today the building is used as a warehouse.

The former Gothic barn in Kolbacz is situated on a farm on the north side of the road (opposite the church). The front elevation faces south. Erected from Gothic brick laid in a Vendian thread, the building was set on a rectangular plan measuring 48 by 17.5 metres. The gabled roof is now covered with plain tile. The timber-framed elevations (with the exception of the rear elevation to the north) are divided by pointed-arch recesses.

Abbot's House

Abbot's House

Located on the south-east side of the monastery, it was probably built in the second phase of its construction, i.e. at the beginning of the 14th century (before 1307). Originally it was the east wing of the cloister within the so-called small claustrum. It was preceded on the west side by a cloister, confirmed by archaeological research also on the north side (cloisters may also have existed along the other two sides of the cloister).

In the post-Reformation period, it was used as the seat of the domain management, housing both the courtroom and the administrator’s flat. It was not until the new administration seat was built in the early 19th century that it was entirely devoted to residential functions. Photographs and engravings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries show a one-storey, plastered building with half-timbered gables and a gabled roof. Only relics of Gothic arches in the northern gable elevation, left over from the partial demolition of the building, indicate its medieval history. It was not until the revalorisation of the building in 1984-1989 that the elements of the Gothic architecture were exposed. Today, the interior of the Abbot’s House houses the Municipal Public Library.

Modern demolitions have meant that we now do not know the exact original length of the building, which has lost some of its substance on the south side. It is believed to have originally been about 22 m long, now measuring 15.50 m long by 10.20 m wide. It is a single-storey building with a gabled roof, now covered with plain tile. The elevations (with the exception of the eastern one) have exposed a Vendian weft of masonry, i.e. two cartwheels (i.e. the longer sides of the bricks) per head (i.e. the shorter side). Based on the uncovered traces, the Gothic detail was reconstructed. In the interior, the original details have been preserved – the Gothic masons on the south wall, the Renaissance beams of the ceiling and the window lintel, the ceramic mouldings and the medieval querns found during the reconstruction. It must be remembered, however, that the present appearance of the Abbot’s House is the result of the work of modern conservators and does not fully correspond to its form from the Cistercian times (certain elements never existed at the same time).

About project

Promotion of Culture

Programme name: Digital Culture.

Name of the task: Kolbacz Monument of History – digital and virtual dissemination of knowledge about the former Cistercian monastery.

Value of MKiDN co-financing: PLN 135,000.

Value of financing from the Marshal’s Office of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship: PLN 101,400.

Total value: PLN 236,400.

Task description: The primary objective of the project is the faithful, digital, three-dimensional and virtual reconstruction of the Romanesque and Gothic architecture of the foundation of the former Cistercian monastery in Kolbacz, together with the interior furnishings, with particular reference to the former church now dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. During the implementation of the task, the latest 2D/3D measuring and visualisation technologies will be used, as well as web technologies (a multilingual website and a mobile application for smartphones and VR goggles), ensuring interactivity for all types of audience, with particular emphasis on the excluded (WCAG 2.1 standard). The main objective of the project is to disseminate knowledge about this unique monument and to preserve the entire resource in digital form for conservation, scientific research, protection in case of destruction (which is crucial in the context of the war in Ukraine) and for future generations.

Co-financed by funds from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Fund for the Promotion of Culture – a state purpose fund.

Co-financed by the Marshal’s Office of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship.