What to see in Poland

Churches of Peace in Jawor and 安idnica

A day trip from Wroc豉w

The Churches of Peace in Jawor and 安idnica, erected in the mid-17th century, are the largest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe, each seating a few thousand people. However, these are sacral buildings that transcend their religious function, and their architectural value is less important than the message that they carry. The churches of peace were built to commemorate the end of a devastating religious conflict that ravaged large parts of Europe. They are testimony to an unprecedented act of tolerance on the part of the Catholic Habsburg Emperor towards Protestant communities in Silesia in the period following the Thirty Years' War.

Under the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), the Emperor of Austria permitted the Lutherans in the Roman Catholic parts of Silesia to build three Evangelical churches. However, there were a lot of restrictions that they had to follow. The temples were not supposed to be reminiscent of traditional churches and they had to be built without steeples or church bells. They had to be constructed from low quality materials like wood, loam, and straw - even nails were forbidden. They were to be located outside, but within the range of a cannonball from the city walls. They had to be built within one year.

And this is how two Europe's biggest wood-and-clay shingled constructions were built. Despite modest looking outside walls, they both have rich baroque decorations inside. Since 2001, the two remaining churches are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The third church, erected in G這g闚, burned down in 1758.

The Church of Peace in 安idnica is located on the old Protestant cemetery, away from the oldest part of the city. The paintings covering the walls and ceiling depict visions of St John the Evangelist describing the Apocalypse. Other paintings show 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 is also richly decorated with 180 paintings representing scenes from the Old and New Testaments, as well as coats-of-arms of local families and guilds.

Jawor and 安idnica are small towns in Lower Silesia situated about one hour's drive of Wroc豉w. They are located 20 miles from each other. Both have an exceptionally rich history reaching back to the Middle Ages. 安idnica was even the capital of an independent principality in the 14th century.

more info: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1054/

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