Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica - Temples with a Message
Their architectural value is much less important than the message that they carry.
Both Protestant half-timber churches were erected in the mid-17th century, following the end of the Thirty Years’ War that ravaged large parts of Europe. Signing the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the emperor of Austria let the Protestants of Lower Silesia erect three ‘churches of peace’. They were to commemorate the end of the devastating war and religious conflicts.
Both temples were not supposed to be reminiscent of traditional churches. They were to be constructed with the use of low quality materials and located within the range of a cannonball from the city walls. And this is how two Europe’s biggest wood-and-clay shingled constructions were built, each seating a few thousand people. With modestly looking outside walls, they both have rich baroque decorations inside.
The Church of Peace in Świdnica is located on the old Protestant cemetery, away from the oldest part of the city. The paintings that cover the walls and ceiling depict visions of St John Evangelist described in his Apocalypse. They also represent coats-of-arms of the most prominent members of the church community as well as views of the local towns and residences.
The Church of Peace in Jawor (30 km from Świdnica) is also richly decorated with 180 paintings representing scenes from the Old and New Testaments as well as coats-of-arms belonging to different families and guilds.
Both towns boast rich historical heritage. In the Middle Ages, Świdnica was the capital of an independent principality. Tourists willingly visit historical monuments grouped within the oldest quarters of both towns.