In the large town of Czestochowa in the south of Poland you find the large monastery of Jasna Gora. The monastery is one of the most interesting religious monuments in Poland so it is well worth to head here and visit if you are in the Krakow area since it is only a short drive from the main attraction of southern Poland to this monastery.
Jasna Gora date back to 1382 when it was founded by Pauline monks who travelled to this area from Hungary to the south. The monastery has been an important pilgrimage location for centuries mainly because of the famous Black Madonna icon which is the monastery most important religious item.
The Black Madonna is said to perform miracles and one of the important miracles were the saving of the Jasna Gora monastery during the long Swedish siege of the monastery in the 17th century. The monastery and the Black Madonna survived so we can go and visit them today.
The monastery consists of several buildings and a few museums in addition to the buildings. It is free to go in and explore even as a tourist as long as you behave decently and do not disturb the many religious activities which will be taking place through the day. The main attraction of the Black Madonna is located in the main church of the monastery – this church usually have several services a day so you might have to wait to be able to enter and join the line to see the Black Madonna up close.
The Black Madonna might be the high light of the trip but the other buildings at the monastery is certainly worth walking around to enjoy the view of the impressive old buildings.
The monastery has a giant parking lot across from the monastery – and it is actually free to park at this parking lot – though they will generally ask for a couple of zloty as donation when you leave but it is not required to pay. The entrance to the monastery is also free – so the visit to this interesting place is a very cheap destination.