Church of Peace in Swidnica, a wooden Church listed in UNESCO
Church of Peace, the largest wooden Protestant church inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. This magnificent timber church was erected between 1656 and 1657. Finished in just 10 months.
The Churche's of Peace in Świdnica and Jawor
The largest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe
Built in the former Silesia in the mid-17th century,
amid the religious strife that followed the Peace of Westphalia.
Protestant temple inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
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About the Church
The church area is about 1090 square meters and can accommodate 7500 people at the same time. The exquisite 18th century wooden altar, dominates the Baroque interior of the church.
The Churches of Peace survive in fully authentic form. Particularly regarding their locations and settings, forms and designs, materials and substances, and function, as evidenced by their unaltered emplacement.
The structural system and materials used in their construction, and the preservation of the original function of these Evangelical-Augsburg parish churches.
The fact that this building, which is made from non-durable materials, has survived for 350 years, displays an astounding endurance that is nothing short of phenomenal.
The Church of Peace in Swidnica is hosting very important concerts like the Bach festival. See more info below.
History of the Church of Peace
The Church of Peace was founded by virtue of the Peace of Westphalia (hence its name) which ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).
Before the war, the townsfolk of Świdnica were free to follow Luther’s ideas and Lutheran services were held in the town.
When the war broke out, the Protestants were deprived of the right to have their own faith and their own churches.
However under the Peace of Westphalia, the Catholic emperor Ferdinand III of Habsburg was obliged by the Swedish to allow the Protestants in the hereditary duchies of Jawor, Głogów, and Świdnica to build one so-called Church of Peace in each duchy.
Although the consent of the Habsburgs had many severe restrictions – the Protestants could only build their place of worship outside the town walls, it could not have any towers nor a belfry, and it could only be built from non-durable materials like wood, sand, straw, or clay.
The building could not look like a church and the construction works could not last longer than a year.
Against all odds, the Protestants at the time displayed extraordinary resourcefulness. Even the poorest of the community brought something to the table, if only one wooden board.
All social classes were involved in the construction process – the nobility, the burghers and the peasants.
One inhabitant of Świdnica, Christian Czepko, even set out on a journey to European Protestant courts to ask for money for the construction.
The hard work paid off, as construction was completed on time and in 1657 the first service was held in the Church of Peace in Świdnica.
Two similar churches were built in Głogów (which was burned down after 100 years), and in Jawor (which is still standing today).
The Church of Peace in Świdnica is a half-timbered church (the timber frames are filled with wattle and daub) based on a cross-shaped plan.
Later, the main body of the church was extended to make room for the Hall of Baptism and sacristy in the east, the Hall of the Dead in the west, the Hall of Weddings in the south, and the Hall of … in the north.
An interesting story connected with the church of Swidnica says that in order to get funds for its building, Christian Czepko (inhabitant of Swidnica) took part in the unusual journey across Europe.
He covered over 3600 kilometers in a year, finishing his mission at the Royal Court in Sweden and it is unknown how much he was able to collect.
Swidnica's church can accommodate around 7500 faithful and since 2000 is hosting the Bach Festival Świdnica.
Interrior's of the Church of Peace in Swidnica
Exhibition in the Church
An exhibition “Faith like a heart of bronze - Treasures of the Church of Peace in Świdnica” take place in the church where various objects connected with the Lutheran church throughout several centuries can be seen on display.
The list includes 350-year-old Bibles, paintings, Baroque liturgical vessels, portraits of parsons, volumes containing prayers and epitaphs.
Given their value, so far only scientists and conservators have been given access to the exhibits. Now they are available to all those willing to see them.
Music in the Church of Peace
To experience the acoustic advantages of the Church of Peace you don’t have to wait till July however. It is possible to book a concert of the organist Maciej Bator, or even play your own concert, e.g. from a choir or chamber music.
The creator of the festival, Jan Tomasz Adamus, explains further:
“Right now, Świdnica is one of the most important points on the contemporary map of Bach in Europe. The interior of the Church of Peace in Świdnica allows the visitors to approach Bach’s works in a very unique way.
Thanks to the short period of reverberation, all complexities of Bach’s scores can be heard really clearly, in a way practically unachievable in large brick churches. (…)
The Bach Festival in Świdnica is one of the best cultural addresses in Europe.
Bach is only a pretext. It’s all about sensitivity and imponderability. It’s about smells, colours, sounds, flavours, and emotions.”
Eat and Drink
A visit to the Church of Peace and the Square of Peace is a journey in time. When entering the gate, you will see the beautiful BarocCafe on your right hand.
A visit to the BaroCafe is a journey around Lower Silesia and its wonderful flavors.
The BaroCafe is open all year-round. In the summer in the garden by the fountain and in the winter by the warm fireplace. Location: Plac. Pokoju 7, 58-100 Świdnica - Just in the entrance of the Church of Peace.
Using the Church of Peace entrance ticket (cost only 10 PLN), will get you a 10% Discount at the BarocCafe.
How to get to the Church of Peace
The closest biggest city is Wroclaw, located around an hour drive from Swidnica. You can use train and bus from Wroclaw to get to Swidnica. Finally there are buses which they stop just ouitside the Church.
The most convenient way, is to stay for a night in Wroclaw and visit the Church in the morning. Is better to avoid weekends in order not to be very crowded.
If you rent a car it can be a very nice trip. There are also many other interesting and worth to see places on your way.
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