Mniszków

Mniszków

500-640 m above sea level

Situated at an altitude ranging from 500 to 640 m above sea level, this village lies to the east of Hutniczy Grzbiet ridge in the neighbourhood of Janowice Wielkie and Miedzianka, stretching along the Miedziany Potok stream. The village was established towards the end of the 13th century, and was listed as a knight's property.

Today's inconspicuous but still charming village was the oldest and largest estate in the vicinity, and embraced the area which today is Miedzianka. It began as a mining settlement, and then developed as a centre of weaving. Mniszków is a chain-type village, its 24 or so homes sparsely arranged. It has a picturesque setting, where the road ends and the forest begins.

At the end of the road is a viewpoint with a small car park, affording a beautiful panoramic vista over the Sokole Mountains and Jelenia Góra Valley. In the middle of Mniszków stands a baroque manor, the best surviving example of a stately rural residence in the Jelenia Góra Valley. There is also a mysterious tomb here, which is presumed to have belonged to the Hochberg (von Pless) family, which – among others – Princess Daisy Hochberg von Pless of Książ Castle married into. Johann Neunherz, the first preacher of today's Garrison Church of the Holy Cross in Jelenia Góra, was born in Mniszków in 1652. Psalms he wrote were sung in churches up until the end of the 19th century.

It may be of interest to some to learn that in Autumn 2010 Mniszków was the setting for the filming of "Daas", directed by Adrian Pank. Much of the photography took place inside the historical manor and its vicinity.

Mniszków – cradle of mining

According to early German chronicles, the growth of mining in the land of Mniszków began in the latter half of the 12th century. Laurentius Angelus (Lorenz Angel vil Agigel), an alleged discoverer of ore beds in Kowary, arrived in these lands and is said to have made his home in a settlement that was only just forming, later to be called Waltersdorf (Mniszków). The land was forested, and so the trees were felled en masse for the construction of homes and the shafts and drifts being built. A document from 30 December 1310, certified by Duke Bernard of Świdnica, gives the first known owner of the village: Albert Baier, who is given the title "de cuprifondina in montibus" – man of the copper mine. At that time the Mniszków property covered what would in future be Janowice Wielkie and Miedzianka.

The mine's operations, organised on the basis of old Saxon mining law, grew over the first 100 years.

The land's owner did not take part in the actual excavation works himself. Via what was known as the right of conferral he transferred the mining to a group of peasants or citizens who then formed a guild. One or a few mining fields were handed over in fief in this manner. Individual peasants were also permitted to dig for mineral riches in their properties, and the profits from the mining were split.

Around the year 1372 the houses situated on the Miedziana hill were split off from Mniszków, which was when the independent town of Miedzianka was established on what was previously Mniszków land.

Clericus Bolze became the land's owner in the year 1374, and it was probably he who erected the nearby Bolczów castle (although other sources give this castle as being built in the years 1163-1201 by Duke Bolko the Tall to defend the homes and mines in the vicinity).

During the Hussite wars (15th century) the lands frequently changed hands, the owners residing at the Sokolec castle (Trzcińsko), then infamous as a nest of robber knights.

While Miedzianka boomed in mining, Mniszków began falling into its shadow. The scope of mining operations was diminishing at a terrifying rate, and despite numerous attempts taken by successive owners at reviving the industry, mining gradually faded into oblivion.

The local people begin seeking other ways of earning a living, resulting in the village's character changing. Mniszków began developing in agriculture and as a centre of cottage-industry weaving. A spinning-wheel was taken for Mniszków's coat of arms.

During the village's weaving heyday there were 121 weaving workshops in operation. The census of 1840 also mentioned an inn, while there were also another 11 workshops weaving wool and 89 weaving cloth, alongside more than 15 other craftspeople.

Attempts at reviving the mining industry were made again in successive decades, and in 1902 a new company, "Boberthaler Erzbergwerke", was founded, which in 1907 took over the Mniszków mine "Kupfererzbergwerk Waltersdorf". However, copper extraction continued to decline, and ultimately mining ceased in 1925.

Final attempts at exploring for and extracting uranium ore were conducted after World War II, but little is known of this as the Russians kept this work secret. Thus the mining history of Mniszków came to an end, its traces today being the tree-covered slag heaps and cave-ins.

A deserted settlement – does it still mean anything to anybody?

A settlement which was never to become a village in its own right grew up above the buildings of Mniszków. This was Kreuzwiese (thus named until 1946) or Gniewczyce, and was home to lumberjacks and charcoal burners, who would burn the charcoal for steel mills and get wood for the mines. The settlement's name derived from the old conciliation cross standing by the road (à a monolithic cross, simple and austere in form, made from local material), near which the well-known "Kreuzschenke" inn was later built. Seventeen crofters lived there in 1786, but after the decline of mining the settlement just managed to exist through shepherding and cottage-industry weaving. After 1945 the place depopulated, some of the homes were never settled, and in time all of them fell into ruin or were pulled down. Even the conciliation cross disappeared, and only in 1972 was it rediscovered and transferred to Rędzinki hamlet. All that remains today of this small settlement are the ruins of the homesteads, boundary strips, and dry stone walls between fields overgrown with sorbus and feral fruit trees.

Mysterious tomb

There's a tomb in Mniszków of mysterious origin. It is presumed to have belonged to the Hochberg (von Pless) family, which – among others – Princess Daisy Hochberg von Pless married into from the Książ Castle.

First preacher of the Garrison Church in Jelenia Góra.

Johann Neunherz, the first preacher of today's Garrison Church of the Holy Cross in Jelenia Góra, was born in Mniszków in 1652. Psalms he wrote were sung in churches up until the end of the 19th century.

Mniszków after the war and today

Most Poles who settled in this area were soldiers. Many of them remained here, taking off their uniforms and starting a new life. The 1950s saw the Soviet Army enter the area, their specialists investigating beds of uranium ore under the name "Kowarskie Mines". After a while the operation was shrouded in secrecy, and the name was changed to "Industrial Plants R-1". Extraction works continued, and sometimes penal forces were brought in to work in Mniszków. Everything was secret, miners were rotated so that "they wouldn't nose about too much". But they knew what was going on, hiding their knowledge for many years. According to the accounts of those who worked in these shafts, if somebody fell into the mines they were pulled out – and the corpse was left up on Śnieżnik. Today filled in and forgotten, they "watch over" the older shafts. Only the slag heaps remember those times.

Back then the village was pretty extensive. There are stories of something like a sauna functioning in Mniszków. A primary school functioned here until 1962, employing a single teacher who taught the 4 elementary classes. As there were on average around 11 children, the class was mixed. The drop in the number of children in the village led to the school closing. Some went instead to the school in Miedzianka or in Janowice Wielkie. There was also a community centre in the village, where the people of Mniszków and nearby Gniewczyce organised wedding receptions and dances. Something along the lines of a dairy functioned in Mniszków, where milk was tested for fat content. The number of homesteads began falling in the 60s; most of the older inhabitants started leaving for Silesia, and those who remained worked in nearby factories and the Miedzianka brewery.

The village homes were practically deserted, and that's how the village continued into the 80s. Then young people in the region began buying up houses which had farm buildings, and agriculture slowly began to develop.

Because of the tough tillage conditions the people mainly opted for grazing cattle and sheep. After the collapse of the communist system, the new economic situation led to more and more farmers giving up on running their farms. Stagnation followed, and the lack of prospects for growth put the village to sleep for another dozen or so years.

When new people began moving in, Mniszków woke up from its lethargy, and started transforming into a picturesque summer resort and tourist destination. Currently it is a good base for Bolczów Castle, Wołek, the Rock Bridge and numerous other rock formations. A cycle trail also leads through the village – known as the "Rudawy bypass".

 

Translation Jonathan Weber

Sources:

„Kronika Mniszkowa". Manuscript of Dora Puschmann, nee Ende.„Słownik geografii turystycznej Sudetów. Rudawy Janowickie". Red. M. Staffa. Wyd. I-BIS. Wrocław 1998Kapałczyński W., Napierała P. „Zamki, pałace i dwory Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej". Fundacja Doliny Pałaców i Ogrodów Kotliny Jeleniogórskiej. Wrocław 2005."Dolina Zamków i Ogrodów. Kotlina Jeleniogórska - wspólne dziedzictwo". Red. O. Czerner, A. Herzig. Muzeum Okręgowe w Jeleniej Górze. Berlin i Jelenia Góra 2003„Opracowanie historii dworu w Mniszkowie". Halina Krajewska 2007Accounts of people who resided in Mniszków after World War II.