Peace Church in Swidnica, Europe’s largest timber-framed Protestant church, made it to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Built in the mid-17th century, this magnificent wooden church was completed within 10 months. Covering over 1000 square meters, the massive church can accommodate 7500 people.
One of the major highlights of the church’s Baroque interior is its stunning 18th-century timber-made altar. The good thing about this attraction is that it stands today in its original form, surviving many troubled years. The religious building’s authenticity is evident in its forms and designs, locations, and construction materials as well as the preservations of the original functions.
The fact that the Swidnica Peace Church which was built from wood is nearly four centuries old and stills looks astonishing is nothing short of phenomenal. It is the host ground for the Bach Festival, one of Poland’s most revered concerts, since 2000.
The Church of Peace was founded based on the terms of the treaty (the Peace of Westphalia) that the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III of Habsburg, had accepted. The treaty ended the war which lasted for 30 years (1618 – 1648). Peace Church in Swidnica was the largest of the three religious buildings in Europe.
Before the war, locals had the liberty to follow the ideologies of Luther, with Lutheran services held within the town. Since the advent of the war, Protestants no longer hold the right to practice their own faith, not to mention building a church of their own.
Things took a turn for the better, thanks to the treaty (Peace of Westphalia) which was accepted by the Emperor. The treaty gave Protestants the liberty to build a church in his Duchy of Swidnica. However, this came with strict restrictions including locating the church outside city walls. He also stated that the place of worship should have no tower, belfry, and be made from non-durable materials such as wood, mud, sand, and straw. He also stipulated that the construction should be completed within a year.
Despite the strict guidelines, the Protestants pulled resources together to see the completion of the project. Everyone, irrespective of status quo or financial status, contributed to the successful completion of the building project.
The church held its first service on the sixth month of 1657
The interior décor of the church is a sight to behold. Listen to music in its Baroque interior. The interior décor features beautifully adorned galleries for its congregations and specially designed boxes for the elites. One box that will catch your eye is that of the Hochberg family, who made sure the construction of the religious building saw the light of the day.
The altar is yet another major highlight. It is unarguably the finest of all altars in Protestant Churches across Europe and the world at large. The altar was designed by Hoffmann, a reputable sculptor originally from Dresden but resides in Swidnica. Have a feel of the 1666 Baroque organ inside the church. Within the complex are other buildings worth exploring including Luther’s House which dates back to 1708.
There is an exhibition in the church which gives visitors a chance to explore centuries-old objects. The exhibition titled “Faith like a heart of bronze – Treasures of the Church of Peace in Swidnica” showcases 350-year-old objects including paintings, Bibles, volumes containing prayers, Baroque liturgical vessels, epitaphs, and portraits of parsons. If you are interested in ancient objects, history, and culture, this exhibition is for you.
Eat and Drink
Your trip to Peace Church in Swidnica can be fun-filled yet exhausting. Knowing this, the church has made provisions for visitors who would like to taste the authentic local flavors of Poland. Upon entering the premises, you’ll find a café perfectly located on your right hand. The café serves delightful local flavors. The BaroCafe, as it is rightly called, operates throughout the year.
Located 50km southwest of Wroclaw, Swidnica is just an hour’s drive, you can rent a car here. Visitors can also travel by train and bus from Wroclaw. From the train station, Peace Church in Swidnica is just 15 minutes’ walk away. Some public buses drop off passengers right at the gate of the religious site. To get the most of your time here, you can take private tour from Wroclaw.
Make sure to visit the church in the morning. The church draws more crowd on weekends and holidays.
- April – October
– Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
– Sunday 12 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- November – March:
– Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
– Sunday 12 a.m. – 3 p.m.