Post-Monastery Carthusian Complex in Kartuzy
Before Kartuzy became a city, for a long period functioned as a small settlement and a farm operating for the monastery. Carthusian monks derive from the French Alps, where St. Bruno from Cologne founded the first monastery in 1084. As hermits, they needed a solitary site far from human settlements. Jan of Rusocin gave them land among the lakes, surrounded by the forest on all sides which enchanted the monks so much that they have coined a term ‘Paradise of Mary’. They arrived here in 1380 and within a several decades have constructed a church and the majority of the monastery buildings. In the glory years, the monastery in Kartuzy owned approximately 6,700 ha property, mainly in the eastern part of today's Kartuski District, around Kolbudy and Nowa Karczma as well as in Żuławy and today’s Gdynia with its district Grabówek and real estate in Gdańsk.
The period of prosperity was interrupted only by the Polish-Swedish wars, during which the Swedes plundered the monastery twice (in 1626 and 1655). After the Partitions, the Prussian government liquidated the monastery in 1826 and the church furnishing was saved before the auction by the inhabitants of nearby Prokowo. As it comes to the monastery buildings until nowadays have preserved: the former convent church, refectory, hermitage and well - all from the 14th century.
The Gothic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is covered with rebuilt in the 18th century uniquely coffin-shaped Baroque roof. The nave and the sanctuary obtained contemporary Baroque décor in the 17th century after the Swedish wars. Noteworthy are cordovans adorning the sanctuary’s walls - the only in Poland maintained in such quantity at their original site. The rich wooden frame with the motifs of the saints adorns the throne of the celebrant and stalls, in which the Carthusian fathers once sat. Profuse wood carved fittings with motifs of saints adorn the celebrant’s throne and stalls where the Cathusians used to sit.
The greatest masterpiece is hidden inside the Golden Chapel, that is the 15th century Gothic altar initially placed in the sanctuary. Above the main entrance to visitor’s surprise flies a white angel of death - a clock’s pendulum, which reminds us that our time in this world will someday come to an end. After all, one of the mottos of the Carthusian is ‘Memento mori’ (Remember that you will die). It is also worth paying attentions at the only hermitage which avoided demolition. Hermitages were once connected by a cloister allowing monks to walk to the church. From the northern side of the temple is a refectory - former monastery dining room. Nowadays, an art gallery organises temporary exhibitions. The basement accommodates a tiny café ‘Pod Refektarzem’.