A visit to the Archcathedral of Oliwa

Oliwa Travel Blog

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I was able to sleep through the night but as morning came, the working noises started, however inconsistently by 8:30am. The owner’s son said that the work would not start before 10:00 am. I had my ear plugs in so…..I tried to ignore it. I was so tired from my previous day that my proposed 8:15 out of bed time turned into 10:30. I still had to drag my butt, then.

Oh, one more thing. It was so cold in my room that I had to sleep in my clothes and even my jacket. The two “thin as paper” blankets were nowhere near enough. Also, the mattress is so thin that I could feel the slats when laying on my side. The pillow ( a mesh bag with balls of polyester) is now the worst pillows, replacing the Italians and their pillows that are like triscuits.

I had too many thoughts about my day and what to do with it. I decided to go to Oliwa and see it’s magnificent cathedral. To do this I needed to take the bus back into the main station (2.5 pzl) and then take the 11 or 12 tram to Oliwa, also 2.5 pzl. It was a good 30 - 40 minutes and the tram was very busy.

I exited and guess at which way. I knew I would be crossing a park and there was a fencing in green area to my right side. I was a good guess as 10 minutes later, I arrived at the gate to the Oliwa Park.

Oliwa Park is very green and lush with plant life. There are lines of hedges that must be 20 - 30 feet tall, creating corridors all with private views of ponds, all off the main path. There were many trails leading to private areas with flower beds and benches….

.places of meditation. The park was lively with people, all enjoying such a nice day. There was even a water fall taking water from a stream, down into the ponds below.

I walked for quite a bit and thought that I might be in the wrong area of the park when I saw an ancient stone gate…usually a sign. I could see a spire and then two…I was there.

I walked around the grounds to get to the front (the money shot) and it did not disappoint. The church was started in 1188 and has many elements from It’s many ages that began with Romanesque and end with modern. The Medieval towers and Baroque decorations, now provide a striking face for all the world to see.

This Holy Trinity, Blessed Virgin Mary, and St Bernard's Church was first erected as a Cistercian shrine back in the 13th century.

Reconstructed in 1350 after a great fire, it re-emerged in the Gothic style, but many of the new fixtures were to be relatively short lived. The Gothic interior was extremely damaged in a 1577 fire and was replaced with the Baroque fixtures we admire today for their beauty and intensity. Structurally, the cathedral is a triple-aisle, vaulted basilica built on the plan of the Latin cross. The Oliwa Cathedral is perhaps best known for its massive, yet splendid organ. The organ is comprised of over 7,000 pipes and is decorated with movable angels and brightly painted stars. When built, the instrument was the largest in Europe.

The many altars and tombs of the church are a treasure of art and craftsmanship. The Kos family tomb is expressive and a great monument to a family that had much to do with the merits of Oliwa.

The many chapels are fully equipped with Baroque altars of high drama and historical significance. The church is a great religious museum of Poland. Don’t miss the Tomb of the Pomeranian Dukes.

The organ is a work of art, along with being the largest organ in Europe at the time. The organ was built in 1763 and repaired several times. It’s case, a masterpiece, in itself, is unique in the world.

In my quest to find the church, I had passed a sign for The Ethnological Museum, I returned to it.

The door was so heavy and hard to open. I thought that they were closed but, saw lights on inside. I walked around the building and then retuned and tried harder….it budged!

The Ethnological Museum (8 pzl) showcases the history of how people have lived in this region.

The first floor had tools for farming and different types of aids for fishing including some unique boats. There were even examples of their woodcraft art showcasing these themes.


There were winter weather items such as Ice skates and sleds and ice climbing tools.

There were even some strange large combs that it turns out, they are for catching eels…..wow!

There were more farming tools on the second floor and decorative items for the homes exterior. There were weather vanes and different kinds of wooden “gingerbread” for window, door, and roof trim.

There was an exhibit that showed tools and aids for dealing with livestock. One thing that really stood out was a horn that was used by a shepherd for calling the sheep.

Also on this floor, there was a typical bedroom and dining space …..both very quaint.

In the kitchen area, there were many strange and creative cooking tools. Among them was a wooden device held behind your neck for carrying 2 buckets of water.

The third floor was the most amazing for me as it showed the different traditional clothing worn by Poles in different regions. They must be the most colorful of all of the Central and Eastern Europeans……and they are all colorful. The combinations of colors in the stripes and embroidery are mind blowing. I would love to be able to show you this treasure of an exhibit but, there were no pics allowed on that floor. A woman walked around with me to each floor. I was the only person in the museum. They didn’t offer a companion book for their exhibits, either. I was really saddened by this. I will remember it, though.

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photo by: delsol67