POLISH PLACES OF POWER
Places of power beckon tourists who believe in the special energy that the Earth supposedly emits. However, it is not at all necessary to tune in to an esoteric mood. You can travel to places of power, continuing to tread firmly on the ground and trying to find in them not hidden chakras, but evidence of fascinating cultural plexuses and metamorphoses.
The few surviving evidences of ancient Slavic culture include a stone statue called “Bear” on the top of Mount Slezha. Although Catholic missionaries, to put it mildly, did not have special respect for the mythology of the Slavs and mercilessly destroyed the traces of ancient cults, the pagan temple on Mount Slezha was such a powerful place that even during the reign of Boleslav the Brave, the chronicler and bishop Titmar of Merseburg noticed with disgust that they were passing there. “Vile pagan rites”.
On an open pagan sanctuary surrounded by a stone rampart, there were many stone statues, partially preserved to this day. Their stylistic heterogeneity suggests that they were created in several stages and emerged from under the cutter of different craftsmen. The squat, roughly hewn figure on four legs, considered to be a depiction of a bear, has been associated with the Celtic and Lusatian cultures. Today, the latest version is considered the most likely. Cult Slavic statues are often found at the bottom of lakes and rivers, where missionaries threw them, trying to deal with ancient beliefs, but the “Bear” was not touched. It was discovered in the middle of the 19th century in a forest near the village of Strzegomyany, and several decades later it was moved to the top of the mountain.
According to the universal principle, a wedge is knocked out with a wedge, and, consequently, a cult is a cult: Christian churches began to be erected in places of ancient rituals. However, the harsh nature of leжa did not allow the establishment of an Augustinian monastery here in the 12th century, so the monastery was moved to nearby Wroclaw, and the chapel in its place was built by Augustinian monks only four centuries later.
Much more successful the transformation of the cult center was carried out on Bald Mountain, renamed – how could it be otherwise – the Holy Cross. According to legend, Boleslav I the Brave should have become the founder of the Benedictine monastery, but the monastery appeared only several generations later, most likely at the expense of Boleslav III Crooked-mouth and the mentor of Prince Voislav from the Poval family.
The glory of the place of power Lysaya Gora owes evidence of the existence of ancient cults in this place, however, preserved much more modestly than on Slezha. According to the Benedictine records of the 16th century, three Slavic deities named Lada, Boda and Leli were worshiped on Bald Mountain, and the honiker Jan Dlugosh gives the names Svist, Whistle and Weather. An unfinished sandstone rampart has survived to this day, most likely marking the territory of the sanctuary, which dates back to the 9th-11th centuries. The Old Slavic Trinity was replaced by the Holy Trinity of Christians. However, the history of the Romanesque church of the 12th century has also sunk into oblivion, since in the middle of the 13th century, Russian-Tatar troops killed all the monks and destroyed their archives.
Nevertheless, several decades later, the monastery revived again thanks to the relic brought by Vladislav I Lokotk – a fragment of the Holy Cross. For her sake, pilgrims led by statesmen flocked to Bald Mountain, which became the Holy Cross Mountain – Vladislav Jagiello did not spare money for expanding the abbey, in addition, he arrived here on a pilgrimage before the Grunwald campaign. For many centuries, Lysaya Gora was reputed to be an important center of the cult, and yet the special energy allegedly inherent in it could not protect the shrine from further destruction. The development of the pre-Christian temple was interrupted by the adoption of a new religion, the first Benedictine archive fell victim to the Tatar troops, and the church rebuilt in the Baroque spirit and the collection of Byzantine-East Slavic painting created by the artists brought by Jagiello died in a fire at the end of the 18th century. During the breaks, the church was destroyed by Swedish, Hungarian and Saxon troops. But the Lysogorsky monastery for a long time served as a prison, into which it was turned during the partition of Poland by the Russian authorities and which it remained during the years of the PPR. Today here you can see all the historical layers of the past – from the early Christian rampart to the late Baroque church with paintings by the classicist artist Francis Smuglevich.
Among Polish “places of power”, pre-Christian burials are popular, in particular the Pomor stone circles. The most famous stone circles in the village of Odry – the second largest in Europe. On the territory of the reserve, created in the 1950s, there are only twelve circles and several dozen mounds, in which about six hundred graves were discovered, and in them decorations and ceramics from the times of the Roman Empire. The mounds are associated with the Goths tribe, who arrived in these lands most likely in the second half of the 1st century AD. e. from Scandinavia. According to some researchers, the circles themselves preceded the creation of the necropolis – it was suggested that they served as a place for meetings and religious rites, including human sacrifice. Today, the circles in Odry are an innocent local attraction and a place of pilgrimage for chakra seekers, but the Nazis were the first to turn them into a tourist site, seeing in them a monument of “pro-German” culture and proof of the original Germanicity of the Baltic Pomerania.
Tum under Lenchitsa
The most valuable monuments of Romanesque architecture are held in high esteem among seekers of local places of power. One of them is the collegiate cathedral in Tum near Lenchitsa. Under the foundations of this monumental cathedral, the remains of an older, stone structure were discovered, which researchers considered to be the remains of a Benedictine abbey, a pre-Romanesque basilica, a bishop’s or prince’s residence, which dates from the 11th – early 12th centuries.
Today in Tum you can visit the monumental three-aisled two-tower basilica, consecrated in 1161. Its construction fell on the era of feudal fragmentation, but the architecture itself also reflected a more ancient history – the reign of Casimir I the Restorer and the patronage of the emperor, associated with the influx of German clergy into Poland, primarily Benedictines, and with them architectural samples from the banks of the Rhine. In Tuma we find traces of this in the spatial structure of the cathedral, in the elegant sculptural details of the tympanum with the image of the Mother of God and the Child, and in the capitals of the columns referring to antiquity. Today, the austere cathedral building, complemented by exquisite stone carvings, is renowned as one of the most impressive monuments of Romanesque art in Poland, for which we owe a great deal to the post-war reconstruction.
The undisputed leader among Polish places of power is the so-called Wawel Chakra. And although it is impossible to miss Wawel in the list of attractions, the history of the Wawel chakra is older than the history of the royal necropolis or the Sigismund chapel. The Wawel Hill began to play an important political role as early as the 9th century; in addition, it quickly acquired a significant religious status. On the site of the present cathedral, a Romanesque cathedral, built at the end of the 11th century, stood, and next to it stood the three-nave church of St. Gereon. It was in this church (which chakra seekers often mistakenly call a chapel) that there was supposedly a place that had already gained fame in the Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and radiated a special energy. Today, in the Courtyard of Stefan Batory, we can see only a line marking the walls of a nonexistent church.
In parallel with the glory of the Wawel Chakra, our knowledge of what is hidden under the later layers of the Wawel architectural palimpsest grew. A significant part of the Romanesque and pre-Romanesque Wawel buildings were discovered only in the 20th during archaeological research. We owe many of the new discoveries to the chief architect of the reorganization era, Adolf Shishko-Bogush, who for many years led the restoration work on the Wawel Hill, and also made his own contribution to the architectural history of the city by designing a monumental canopy at the junction of classicism and modernism, a canopy over the entrance to crypt of Marshal Piłsudski.
In 1917, Shishko-Bogush discovered traces of a small stone rotunda from the turn of the 10th-11th centuries and carried out its reconstruction, thanks to which today it is the best preserved Wawel building of that period. The architect considered the discovery of the rotunda of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Church of St. Felix and St. Adavkt, as his main achievement as a restorer and even reflected this in his own mansion in Pshegozhaly, the plan of which referred to the Wawel rotunda.
Not all Polish chakras are associated with pagan cults or ancient Christian buildings. In the town of Tykocin in the Podlaskie Voivodeship, the Great Synagogue of the mid-17th century is popular. Jews began to settle in this town about a century earlier. In the 40s of the 17th century, Tykocin was a thriving trade and intellectual center, and on the site of the old wooden church, a monumental, late Renaissance synagogue was erected, which was rebuilt in the next century after a fire, after which it acquired baroque features. It is no coincidence that the synagogue is called Bolshoi – it was the largest synagogue after the Krakow synagogue in Poland. In addition, the largest Jewish cemetery in the country has been preserved here.
Soon after the construction of the synagogue, Swedish troops passed through Tykocin, but unlike several other key buildings in the city, the synagogue survived the “Swedish flood” without serious consequences. The synagogue, converted into a warehouse, survived the Second World War, although it was plundered and partially destroyed. However, the tragic fate befell the Jewish community of Tykotsin: in August 1941, in the forest near the nearby village of Lopukhov, the Nazis shot about two thousand people, that is, almost half of all residents of the city. Today, the Great Synagogue, restored in the 1970s, houses a local history museum.