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Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica - Zabytek.pl

Jawor, Park Pokoju 2 (Jawor) plac Pokoju 6 (Świdnica)

woj. dolnośląskie, pow. jaworski, gm. Jawor-gmina miejska

The property was inscribed on the List by World Heritage Committee in 2001.   Brief synthesis The Churches of Peace located in the towns of Jawor and Świdnica in the Silesia region of south-western Poland are the largest timber-framed Baroque ecclesiastical buildings in Europe. They were built in the mid 17th century to a scale and complexity unknown in European wooden architecture before or since, following the provisions of the Peace of Westphalia, which concluded the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. The terms of the peace treaty effectively eradicated the Evangelical Church in the Silesian hereditary principalities directly controlled by the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III. 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. It was only courtesy of Swedish diplomatic intervention that permission was granted to build three churches.

Lengthy and expensive efforts were made to secure imperial consent, which, when issued, imposed exceptionally strict conditions: the churches were to be located beyond town boundaries, within an area strictly defined by imperial officials; they were to be built of wood and clay; they could not feature a tower; and their construction was to be completed within one year. The architect and engineer Albrecht von Säbisch had to reconcile these requirements with the expectations of a large Evangelical community for whom these were to be the only churches. Using traditional materials and technologies, the architect created a set of buildings that represented the pinnacle of timber-framing construction technology. The centuries-long timber-frame tradition allowed carpenters to erect buildings that could survive for hundreds of years, in spite of the impermanence of the materials used. The Church of the Holy Spirit in Jawor was built in 1654–1655 as a rectangular three-aisled basilica with a three-sided chancel of reduced form. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Świdnica was built in 1656–1657 as a three-aisled basilica with a Greek cross ground plan. The third of the Churches of Peace allowed under the Peace of Westphalia was built in Głogów in 1652, but burned down a hundred years later.

Both of the surviving churches feature multi-tier galleries, thanks to which their capacity was extended to about seven thousand people each. The rich décor, which developed over the ensuing decades, integrates exuberant Baroque forms and complex imagery into their architectural framework in a unique way that celebrates the coexistence of Baroque art and Lutheran theology, and reflects the social hierarchy of the time. 

An unparalleled tour de force, the Churches of Peace are masterpieces of skilled handicraft. Because of their technological complexity and size, the Churches of Peace were never duplicated elsewhere and remain without peer. 

The total area of the serial inscription amounts to 0,23 ha and the total area of the buffer zones amounts to 12 ha.

Criterion (iii): The Churches of Peace are outstanding testimony to an exceptional act of tolerance on the part of the Catholic Habsburg Emperor towards Protestant communities in Silesia in the period following the Thirty Years’ War in Europe.

Criterion (iv): As a result of conditions imposed by the Emperor, the Churches of Peace required the builders to implement pioneering constructional and architectural solutions of a scale and complexity unknown before or since in wooden architecture. The success may be judged by their survival to the present day.

Criterion (vi): The Churches of Peace bear exceptional witness to a particular political development in Europe in the 17th century of great spiritual power and commitment.

Components of serial property:

  • the Church of Peace under the invocation of the Holy Spirit in Jawor
  • the Church of Peace under the invocation of the Holy Trinity in Świdnica



Category: cultural

Building material:  drewniane

Protection: UNESCO World Heritage

Inspire id: PL.1.9.ZIPOZ.NID_N_02_UN.57