Bierzwnik Cistercian Abbey
Bierzwnik Abbey (German: Marienwalde) was founded between 1280 and 1294. Its economic development was facilitated by donations of land from the Brandenburgian nobility. The abbey’s heyday was in the Ascanian era, which lasted into the 14th century. It then saw turbulent times until the takeover of the Neumark by the Hohenzollerns in 1454 – in 1347 the site was completely destroyed by fire. As a result, monks were first able to return in 1350. The abbey was secularised around 1539, and from 1546 was run as a manor estate. Fires damaged the buildings again in 1690 and 1814, and further destruction ensued in World War II.
Built on a hill overlooking Lake Kuchta, the brick construction shows architectural similarities to its mother abbey in Kołbacz. The origins of many decorative elements can be traced to the “Masons’ Guild of Chorin”. Parts of the abbey church along with the south and east wings of the enclosure buildings remain intact. Archaeological excavations have revealed a crypt in the chancel and architectural elements such as water channels, an air-heating system and a well in the cloister garden. In addition, the remains of a water mill, brick and lime kilns and a forge have been discovered, which attest to the Cistercian’s economic activity. The exposed basement of the west wing is a reconstruction.
Bierzwnik is situated on a plain characterised by the Drawa Forest and the Dobiegniew and Drawa Lake Districts. In the Drawa National Park, remains of tar factories, glassworks and canals reveal the cultural history of the region.
The different phases of reconstruction can be witnessed first-hand at the abbey: overgrown ruins, refurbished sections and buildings under renovation can be seen side-by-side. to. A nature trail has been laid out on the hill around the site, providing multilingual information on the various excavations. Bierzwnik Abbey is situated on the “European Route of the Cistercian Abbeys and Sites”.