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10. Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica (2001)
 

The Churches of Peace (Polish: Kościół Pokoju, German: Friedenskirche) in Jawor (Jauer) and Świdnica (Schweidnitz) in Silesia (Poland) were named after the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 which permitted the Lutherans in the Roman Catholic parts of the Holy Roman Empire to build Evangelical churches, to be built outside the city walls and made of wood with no nails. Since 2001, the two remaining large ones are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

The Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica constitute an outstanding testimony to an act of religious tolerance allowed by Catholic Habsburg monarchy to the large Silesian population of Protestants, and developed in response to bring to an end a long-term religious conflict. They bear an exceptional witness to the development of a particular kind of religious and social movement of the 2nd half of the 17th century, in Europe. As a result, however, of some restrictions imposed intentionally by the Emperor, the architects were forced to implement pioneering constructional and architectural solutions of a scale and complexity unknown or inexperienced ever before in wooden architecture. Despite of perishable materials, such as wood and clay, and others difficulties to erect the Churches of Peace their great stability and durability confirm, till now, an exceptional value of these timber-framed constructions.

 

Constrained by the physical and political conditions, 3 of the churches anyway became the biggest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe. With pioneering constructional and architectural solutions unknown ever before or since in wooden architecture, and surviving for over 300 years, they bear testimony to the quest for religious freedom and are a rare expression of Lutheran ideology in an idiom generally associated with the Roman Catholic Church in the Austrian Empire of the Habsburgs.

 

The Lutheran Church of Peace" in Świdnica, is located around 30 km from Jawor, outside the historic center of the town, on the former graveyard. It was erected in 1652-1654, on a plan approaching the Greek cross, and forms a timber-framed structure, with rich baroque equipment. Its interior original polychrome decoration was inspired in general by a great number oh biblical scenes, and presents in particular the apocalyptic visions of St. John Evangelist, but also some views of neighborhood. The Church of Peace in Świdnica can accommodates some 7500 persons.

 

The church in Jawor, under the invocation of the Holy Ghost, sized 43,5 m long, 14 m wide and 15,7 m high, seating 5,500, was constructed by Breslau (Wroclaw) architect Albrecht von Saebisch (1610–1688) and was finished in 1655 after a year. The 200 paintings inside by were done by Georg Flegel in 1671-1681. The Altar, by Martin Schneider, is of 1672, the original organ of J. Hoferichter from Legnica (Leigtnitz) of 1664 was replaced 1855–1856 by Adolf Alexander Lummert. By that time, the town was already for about 100 years part of the Lutheran Kingdom of Prussia. Another 100 years later, in 1945, as a result of losing World War II by Nazi Germany they became part of Poland, following Potsdam Agreement.

 

The similar church, erected in Głogów (Glogau) had burned in 1758, but the one of Świdnica, under the invocation of the Holy Trinity, survived like the one in Jawor. Both were restored by a Polish-German cooperation, and added by UNESCO in 2001.





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