The Churches of Peace in Jawor and Świdnica, were built in the former Silesia in the mid-17th century. They were named after the Peace of Westphalia; which was the name given to two peace treaties signed in October 1648 that resulted in the end of the Thirty Years War bringing peace to the Holy Roman Empire and closing a calamitous period of European history that killed approximately eight million people.
The peace treaties effectively eradicated the Evangelical Church in the region depriving the Evangelical majority of the population any religious freedom and all of their churches.
After diplomatic intervention by Sweden, permission was granted to build three churches outside the city walls; however this permission came with strict physical and political constraints. The Lutherans of Silesia were allowed to build three churches from wood, clay and straw without steeples and church bells with a construction deadline of just one year.
The project was handed to architect and engineer Albrecht von Säbisch who had the difficult task of meeting the requirements of the large Evangelical community whilst also adhering to the caveats imposed on the construction of the churches.
The architect created a set of buildings that represented the pinnacle of timber-framing construction technology and architectural solutions. The Churches of Peace are the largest timber-framed Baroque ecclesiastical buildings in Europe and were built to a scale and complexity unknown in European wooden architecture before or since.
Albrecht von Säbisch used traditional materials and technologies and despite the impermanence of the materials used, the building survived for hundreds of years.
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. Since 2001, the two remaining churches are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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