Reign of Habsburg dynasty and changes connected to reformation and thirty years’ war left in Świdnica one of the most valuable keepsakes of history and architecture, which Church of Peace situated on Peace Square is.
This unique square is under a special protection of UNESCO League of Polish Cities and Spots, whose objective is propagation of objects of cultural heritage inscribed on List of World Heritage Sites.
Church of Peace
Church of Peace is one of the three monuments of UNESCO in Lower Silesia. It received its name thanks to peace of westfalia, which ended thirty years’ war. During the war, the protestants had their religious freedoms and churches belonging to them revoked, only after the war Ferdinand III, a catholic emperor, gave permission for building one church in capital cities of each Silesian duchy: Świdnica, Jawor and Głogowo.
It was only allowed to raise them beyond the city walls, within a precise distance of two hundred steps and in a time no longer than twelve months. The construction materials: wood, sand, straw and clay, were also of lowered quality. Thanks to unparalleled engagement of believers, from the poorest of peasants to wealthy nobility, as well as requests for financial support to various protestant courts in Europe, written by sons of current pastor, the construction was finished in time and according to rigoristic norms.
Albrecht von Säbisch, an architect from Wrocław, raised a wooden skeleton of building on a plane close to greek cross, filled with straw and clay. On this base, made of wooden boards and details, was build the entire unique temple.
Throughout the years, the church’s space was enlarged with successively built-in lodges for families of nobility, with separate entrances, thanks to which the building contains 27 doors today, among which only those of the eastern side, leading to the interior through Hall of Baptisms, are open in weekdays.
The spacious main entrance on the southern side is open only in Sundays and during concerts. Visible over the gate are numbers spelling the 1652 year, in which luterans were given building permission.
Church of Peace, although crude on the outside, dazzles with splendor of its baroque interior.
On matroneum running through two tiers, supported by powerful pillars, hang crests of noble houses, epitaphs and portraits, as well as guild tables.
Lodges, once used by aristocracy and wealthy townspeople, adorned with sculpted garlands made of flowers and fruits, wreaths, paintings and crests; wooden epitaphs and portraits of the deceased, embellished with artistic frames; numerous angel figures; paintings on vaults – you can marvel at all of this for hours, seeking for hidden details in the church’s dimness.
Deserving special attention is a multistorey, incredibly rich altar with figures of saints and religious symbols, as well as an pulpit, built by a sculpting artist Gottfried August Hoffman, with a four-part hourglass placed on its balustrade. The pulpit was recently repaired and regained its natural colors from its existence’s beginning.
The church’s excellent acoustics is greatly supportive for vocal and instrumental music alike, which resound during indoor concerts, especially the annual International Bach Festival.
UNESCO Promotion and Partnership Center
Peace Square is not just the church, despite it taking its central part.
In the entrance gate’s left wing, in the wall surrounding the square, is found Bellringers’ House, restored thanks to EU’s support, which currently houses UNESCO Promotion and Partnership Center.
Since 30.11.2012 it contains an unique exhibition of works of art and culture connected to Church of Peace, which are parts of exhibitions of other Polish and German museums, brought together for a few months.
Liturgic vessels, books, music items, pastors’ keepsakes, paintings, brass bowls, priceless Bibles and sculptures dating back to 17th and 18th century.
Angel figures in three different stages of renovation – from raw wood with numerous signs of time passage to the final result of excellence – were placed on a wall.
Deserving a special attention is a priceless travelling kit with a cup and embroidered tablecloth, placed inside a wooden inlayed casket.
Consisting a piece of trivia is a funeral cross made of polichrome wood with carved skull and a huge silver crucifix on a splendid base.
Unique collections of over eight thousand volumes consisting one of the largest luteran archives in Poland were recently discovered. Two hundred Bibles made of vat paper framed with wood and embossed leather, priceless old printings, whose origins are dated to as far back as 16th century, letters, photos, chronicles. For now, they are only available to researchers and conservers, in the future they will be available in Church of Peace’s digital library and in reading room which is planned to be created in rectory.
This baroque building found near the church accommodates artists and Świdnica’s citizens every summer on joint creative workshops. Peace Square is also a place of a variety of other meetings, displays and concerts, organised by the priest Waldemar Pytla’s wife – Bożena.
In the climatic, cameral atmosphere of Broccafe – a cafe opened in Guard’s House by the gate, you can taste pralines in golden boxes with Switzerland crest, gingerbread with Church of Peace picture stamps, delicious chocolate, coffee and toasts with mould-ripened cheese, as well as see an authentic fragment of timber framing left in this miniature, cozy interior.
In a distance stands a belfry raised half a century after the church’s completion, when there were no more strict prohibitions. The bell is now found in Church of Peace’s main section.
Around the temple extends a cemetery with a thousand graves of amply decorated tombstones.
Peace Square, with its unreplicable atmosphere, inspired creation of stories of “Pan Samochodzik i Biblia Lutra” series, as well as “Tajemnica Pastora” movie.