Have you heard about the churches of peace? ⛪️🕊️
They’re the world’s largest wooden Protestant churches, located in the towns of Jawor and Świdnica in the Silesia region of south-western Poland, a real Pearl of Silesia.
They may look unremarkable from the outside, but when you entered the churches, you will be blown away by their internal wood structures, the rich décor, and the surprisingly great capacity. Not surprisingly the churches were added to Unesco’s World Heritage List under a single inscription in 2001.
The story of how these two churches came from is also impressive. It takes place in the seventeenth century when the Peace of Westphalia was signed in October 1648 to end the Thirty Years’ War(1618-1648). According to the terms of the peace treaty, there was not allowed to erect any Protestant churches in the Catholic duchies of Silesia, which means the Evangelicals who constituted the majority of the population in these areas were deprived of the religious freedom they had hitherto enjoyed and lost almost all of their churches. However, backed by Sweden, the Protestants of Silesia secured the right to build three new churches to commemorate the end of the devastating war and religious conflicts, but with a series of exceptionally strict restrictions: These three churches could not feature a tower and had to be completed within one year. What’s more, the buildings had to be constructed out of wood, clay, and sand only. With combined efforts of Protestant inhabitants of Silesia and the superb construction technology of architect Albrecht von Saebisch, the Churches of Peace in Jawor and Swidnica were managed to be finished before the deadline and became the world’s biggest wooden churches. The third of the Churches of Peace was built in Głogów but burned down in 1758.
The church in Jawor is one of the most unique examples of timber-frame architecture, which is about 14 meters wide and 15.7 meters high and can have up to 6,000 people. It also features an exquisite interior, richly adorned with 180 paintings representing scenes from the Old and New Testaments as well as various coats-of-arms.
The church in Świdnica was built as a three-aisled basilica with a Greek cross ground plan, decorated with the splendor interiors. The church can accommodate 7,500 people to attend a mass. The highlight of the church is an 18th-century altarpiece by Gotfried August Hoffmann and massive church organs, with its 3909 organ pipes still in operation.
With a phenomenal design, the churches of peace are very impressive and unique, well worth a visit! Besides, the distance between the two churches is less than 40 km, you can easily visit both churches in one day. 😉