Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica

Europe's largest timber-framed structures serving religious purposes – the Lutheran Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica – are surely something to define the diversified heritage of Lower Silesia. Noticed by UNESCO in terms of their pioneering architectural solutions implemented, massive by their size, the scale of Baroque decor and capacity, the 17th-century shrines  are something not to miss to fully appreciate the varied and fairy-tale like landscape of this culturally outstanding region of Europe.

Tour Overview

When you approach the Church of Peace in Jawor or Swidnica, you will find it difficult to imagine that the construction of each one only took a year of intense effort to finalise, due to the authoritarian restrictions of the era. These are truly grandiose structures, perfectly maintained from the outside, with their architectural order secured by solid timber frames. Impressively finished inside, as full of woodwork masterpieces of sacral Protestant art and polychromy units to admire.

Jawor and Swidnica are located within 40 minutes of a ride, with the distance between the former city and Wroclaw reaching less than 70 kilometres. You need a half a day or so to sightsee both Churches of Peace at one time. Back in 2001, UNESCO noticed the cultural importance of both structures, adding them to the prestigious list of World Heritage Sites under a single inscription.

It is necessary to understand the historical background that preceded the construction of both churches. After the Thirty Years' War was over (with the Peace of Westphalia undersigned in 1648), it became disallowed to erect any Protestant churches in the Catholic duchies of Silesia. However, due to diplomatic steps taken by Protestant authorities of other territories (e.g. Sweden), the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III gave his official permission to construct three of such shrines in the territory. There were "only" a few conditions to meet on the side of their creators – seemingly impossible to fulfil. The Protestant churches had to be constructed out of wood, clay or sand only, as located outside of city walls and deprived of the right to adjoin any bell towers to them. Last but not least, there was one year only given to the builders to finish their constructions after the permission was granted. As a result of combined effort of Protestant inhabitants of Silesia, the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica were managed to be finished prior to this deadline – consecutively in 1655 and 1657.

The Church of Peace in Jawor is one of the most unique examples of timber-frame architecture, having the dimensions of 43,4 m of length, 14 m of width and 15,7 m of height, previously unthinkable to be implemented with the use of such unreliable materials or architectural solutions chosen. Designed by Albrecht von Sabisch, it still impresses its visitors with the four tiers of inner matronea adorned with the depictions of motifs drawn from the Old and New Testaments, floral patterns and local heraldic shields placed on meticulously-made polychromic works. Due to the size of the building, it would have the surprisingly great capacity of 6,000 people for the epoch related. Nowadays, the shrine attracts connoisseurs with its famous concerts of chamber music, held annually between May and September.

Its sister church in Swidnica was built on a Greek cross plan as nearly of twice of the width of the entire construction when compared to the former shrine. Its four inner matronea enabled almost 7,500 to attend a mass held there at one time. While visiting, you will definitely notice the 18th-century altarpiece by Gotfried August Hoffmann who also authored the main pulpit – yet another fine example of Baroque design, altogether with the wall paintings and polychromies present there. What the most attention-drawing part of the interior is, has to be attributed to massive church organs, with its 3909 organ pipes still in operation. The church hosts organ concerts on a regular basis there, with the world's foremost organists invited to participate.

Interested in seeing what these UNESCO jewels of architecture look like in real life? Do not hesitate to contact us to have an instructive  trip to the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica organised.

Tour Details

  • You are about to visit the sites of religious worship. Please, remember to dress appropriately.
  • It is possible to visit the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica reglardless of where you are staying in Poland. Inform us of the place of your collection and the planned date of a trip to have a pick-up from the hotel organised.

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