Leaving Lubiaz down its cobblestone path, we turn left at the junction watched over by a shrine to the Virgin Mary, and it isn’t long before the dramatic views of the mountain range fill our vision. We won’t be cycling up them or through them but they remain a spectacular sight as we freewheel down the smooth road that winds its way through the gently rolling countryside towards Jawor.
The small town Jawor is home to one of two remaining Churches of Peace. The other surviving church is in Swidnica (the third, in Glogow, burned down in 1758 and was never rebuilt). Similar to the Churches of Grace, the three Churches of Peace were built for a new era of religious tolerance where adherents could practise their own faith (not necessarily that of the King).
We visit the Peace Church in the morning and pay our 8zl for the audio tour in English. It is amazing to stand inside, look up, and be immersed in history. More than 200 paintings by Georg Flegel adorn the church’s balconies, walls, and altar. Amazing! The church was built during the Reformation, under extremely strict planning controls. The architects were only allowed to use wood, straw and loam. No steeples, bells or metals were allowed. And it had to be completed in less than a year. It is astounding that an Evangelical Lutheran church, with such restrictions placed upon it, was even built in the 17th century. It’s another UNESCO-listed masterpiece.
We leave Jawor and head south-west, navigating our way past the numerous granite quarries which feed the local stonemasons. There’s a little apprehension in the air today as we’re visiting Gross Rosen: a former Nazi concentration camp. It started as a forced labour camp to quarry granite, then 3,000 Soviet prisoners were executed here followed by the internment, brutalisation, and death of uncountable political prisoners. The main buildings are no longer present but the camp itself, the entrance gate topped with the infamous words of ‘Arbeit macht frei’, and a monument, still survive as a testament to the atrocities committed within its fences.
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