Delicacies from behind the monastery walls – enjoy your journey where prayer mingles with work and exquisite flavours

A shelf full of jars of peaches, raspberries and lemons in syrup, in the bottom right corner the logo of Malopolska (Lesser Poland) and the inscription ‘Enjoy your journey’
Places of religious worship graced with a reflective, even mystical atmosphere, sources of culture and art, and culinary traditions nurtured over the centuries – we are undoubtedly talking about monasteries, which are the pride and historical memory of Małopolska. The monks and nuns have spent years perfecting recipes that are closely guarded secrets. Their careful and comprehensive education gave them broad knowledge that they also applied in the kitchen to create products and dishes that are still popular today. Find out what delicacies from behind the monastery walls you can taste in the Małopolska Region.

For centuries, the running of monastery farms, vineyards, gardens and breweries had a practical dimension. Above all, it enabled the monks to make a living and ensure the monastery's operation. Trading in the delicacies produced behind the walls also helped raise additional funds. Thanks to the resourceful monks and their knowledge, agriculture always developed around the monasteries, and new culinary traditions were born. Following the footsteps of monks in their creation of their monastery’s venerable recipes can become a fantastic adventure for body and soul. See for yourself!

Benedictine delicacies

A trip to the Małopolska monasteries is worth starting from Tyniec in Kraków. It is a pearl in the crown of sacral monuments. The Abbey was founded almost a thousand years ago! Its founding is associated with the beginning of the spread of the Christian faith in the Polish lands. For ten centuries, the monastery has continued to be a pilgrimage destination for people seeking fundamental values and contact with the heritage of history, culture, the beauty of the landscape, and God. The monastery, beautifully situated on a limestone rock right on the banks of the Vistula River, is a place with an extraordinary atmosphere – something that cannot be described in words, so you must feel it for yourself.

The Benedictine monks, hosts of the Abbey, are known for their thrift and ingenuity. Pilgrims visiting Tyniec can therefore count on food for the soul as well as for the body, and on more, too: you will find a whole range of Benedictine products in the Abbey shop. Beverages, sweets, preserves, dried fruit, spices, herbs, cheeses and even cured meats – all this and much more can be found on the shelves of the unique shop. The monks ensure that their products are prepared from natural ingredients according to traditional recipes. Products from other monasteries are also sold besides the Benedictine delicacies, so the range is extensive. On the monastery grounds is a shop of Benedictine nuns from Staniątki near Kraków, where you can taste cakes and sweets, and sometimes a few special-occasion delights, prepared by the nuns. 

The nunnery in Staniątki

The Abbey of the Benedictine Sisters in Staniątki is also a place not to be missed on the pilgrimage route... The nuns write about themselves: ‘Prayer is intertwined with work here, work with prayer, there are moments of rest. The prose of Benedictine life is far from monotonous, for the Abbey teems with life, that for God, but also people.’ This work for the people is particularly evident here, for the nuns run a sizeable farm – raising carp and growing vegetables. The local tomatoes are famous throughout the area. You’ve got to try them! 
During its 800-year history, the monastery has also amassed a considerable collection of monuments and deeply intriguing relics, which are also well worth spending time with. Documents, manuscripts, old prints, as well as liturgical objects and vestments and a 17th-century series of paintings depicting scenes from the life of Casimir the Restorer, can be viewed in the Staniątki Museum. In the church, the rich collection of vestments and church equipment is worth seeing, including a late-Gothic monstrance from 1543 as well as incunabula – books printed at the dawn of the age of books – and collections of wax figurines produced in the monastery. Maintaining such a historic building is a great effort, which makes it all the more worthwhile to support the nuns in their toil and, at the same time, to taste delicacies straight from the farm. 

Traditional beer from Szczyrzyc

The Cistercians of Szczyrzyc are known for their great brewing traditions. The history of the Gryf Brewery dates back to 1623! The brewing procedure follows a closely guarded recipe and is done by hand, using only natural ingredients. The beer is characterised by a vibrant aroma and outstanding taste qualities that beer lovers readily acknowledge. However, there’s more to see and do in Szczyrzyc than just tasting this magnificent beer.

The main religious attraction here is the abbey complex with a brick church from 1620, rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. The church's main altar contains the miraculous image of Our Lady of Szczyrzyc. Adjacent to the church is the monastery – a complex of buildings from the 17th century forming a square with a garth inside. Quite close by is the Abbot's House, currently a museum with an interesting collection of historical and religious memorabilia. One of the rooms describes the history of beer brewing. Among other things, a unique collection of labels of the hearty Szczyrzyce beverage has been gathered here. 

Capuchin panacea for everything

When visiting the centre of Kraków, you can also peek behind the monastery walls in search of unusual flavours and natural products. Behind the gates of the Capuchin Monastery at Loretánska Street, the production of Capuchin Balsam has been ongoing for more than 150 years, ever since the beginning of the Capuchins' adventure with tinctures and numerous herbal and bee products.
The famous Balsam is a high-alcohol tincture with aloe vera, rhubarb, honey, propolis, angelica and balsamic resins. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, and the specificity is intriguing with its exciting taste and versatile use. Today, in the Capuchin manufactory, you can also find monastic products by Father Grzegorz Sroka, herbal preparations made by the Franciscans of Panewniki, and ointments and many other herbal preparations produced by the Bonifraters, also known as Hospitallers.

A spiritual pilgrimage or a traditional excursion can be boldly combined with a taste of Małopolska and the discovery of its unique specialties, the recipes for which are still hidden from the world behind monastery walls. Visit, discover, and enjoy the beautiful flavours!


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