Swidnica, Poland is one of those towns that not so many people know about yet it hides some real wonders (including a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
It took me ages to visit Swidnica (partly because I had no idea what an exceptional place this is) but when I finally got there I was blown away by its beauty, charm, history, and all the amazing things to do in Swidnica. I had no idea the town is that fascinating!
Fortunately, you don’t need to wait as long as I did and you can go on a trip to Swidnica next time you visit Poland. The place is easily accessible and can be visited as one of the day trips from Wroclaw or can be a destination itself and a good base to explore the nearby area of the Lower Silesia (which I believe is probably the most interesting region of Poland). Either way, you are in for a treat!
Today I’m more than happy to share with you all about the city, including the best Swidnica attractions, so you will know what to expect from this marvelous town. Read on and plan your own trip to Swidnica soon!
Table of contents
- 1 Where is Swidnica, Poland
- 2 Why you should visit Swidnica
- 3 How to get to Swidnica
- 4 Swidnica tours
- 5 Where to stay in Swidnica
- 6 A brief history of Swidnica
- 7 Things to do in Swidnica
- 8 Final thoughts on visiting Swidnica
- 9 Where to go next
- 10 Travel Resources
Where is Swidnica, Poland
Swidnica, a town of around 56 thousand inhabitants, is located in the Lower Silesia region in southwest Poland, not far from Wroclaw or the border with the Czech Republic. Wroclaw is a bit over 50 km north of Swidnica.
Why you should visit Swidnica
Świdnica is one of the prettiest and most underrated places to visit in Poland. The center is lined with stunning and rich townhouses dating a few centuries back, and discovering all the details is such a highlight.
But the main reason to visit Swidnica is the UNESCO-listed Church of Peace, a real masterpiece that will surely make your jaw drop.
How to get to Swidnica
Getting to Swidnica is rather easy as there are fine train and bus connections from Wroclaw (and reaching Wroclaw is a piece of cake really). I opted for the train, it was a smooth trip that took around 1 hour.
You might also book private transport from Wroclaw to Swidnica – click here for details.
It is possible to visit Swidnica with the tour from Wroclaw, combining it with another destination in the region. This is a great option if you are short on time but would like to see more of Lower Silesia (which I believe is a must when visiting Wroclaw).
Here are some of the options:
- Mysterious Lower Silesia Day Tour
- Full-Day UNESCO Church of Peace Tour
- Wroclaw to Peace Churches in Swidnica and Jawor Half Day Trip
- Wroclaw To Ksiaz Castle and Church of Peace in Swidnica
- Wroclaw To Church of Peace and Project Riese Tour
- Jewels of Lower Silesia
- Wroclaw to Rock City in Adsprach and Church of Peace in Świdnica Private Tour
Where to stay in Swidnica
Unfortunately, Swidnica doesn’t have all that many accommodation options but there are a few places worth mentioning.
I stayed in Great Polonia Świdnica City Center (8.4/10 on Booking) and it was just fine, with the best possible location, just off the Main Square – click here to check the details and book the room.
Other fine accommodation options in Swidnica include:
- Apartamenty w Wieży (9.7/10)
- Hotel Fado Spa & Restaurant (8.7/10)
- Apartamenty Pod Lwem (8.7/10)
- and more!
A brief history of Swidnica
Swidnica was first mentioned in the 11th century when it was part of Poland (ruled by Piasts at that time) but the town got its rights only almost two hundred years later, in 1267.
Back then the place was already well-developed and was one of the most important trade centers in the region, with numerous guilds having their seats here. Swidnica was also well-known for its beer production, supplying restaurants not only in the region but all over Europe.
After the fall of the Piast-ruled Duchy of Świdnica and Jawor at the end of the 14th century, the town has changed its belongingness a few times, it used to be part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, Kingdom of Hungary, Habsburg Monarchy, and Prussia. Eventually, after WW2, Świdnica returned to Poland.
Things to do in Swidnica
Even if the town isn’t very large (and you will find most of the attractions in the center), the place will keep you busy for a few solid hours with all the great Swidnica attractions. Here are the best things to do in Swidnica.
UNESCO listed Church of Peace
The biggest highlight of Swidnica is, with no doubt, the Church of Peace – one of the three churches of that kind that were built in Poland after the Peace of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War in 1648 (other two were in Jawor and Glogow – this one burnt down in 1758).
The church is hidden neatly in a park a few minutes walk from Main Square and until the last moment you can’t fully see its beauty. But it is amazing, a real masterpiece both outside and inside.
The wooden church – the biggest wooden church in Europe – was built on the shape of the Greek cross (with arms of equal length), later on, a few extra parts like the sacristy were added. The legend says no nails were used to build the church but that’s actually not true. But what’s the most impressive is the fact that the church was built in 10 months only!
As soon as you step inside you will be in awe of this place – the church is enormous (you can’t really say it from the outside) and can fit up to 7,5 thousand people (that includes three thousand seats). But what is even more impressive are all the incredible decorations and details, all made of wood (even the sculptures that might seem to be marble are in fact wooden).
I spent half an hour or so inside, checking everything closely, and couldn’t wrap my head around the beauty of this place. Churches often impress me with their architecture but this one was on a completely new level. I literally didn’t know where to look, there was so much going on around – the beautiful altar and organs were obviously the most impressive but there were so many other amazing things too – the pulpit, Hochberg’s box, or numerous paintings around.
Once you are done with visiting the church inside be sure to wander around the park too, not only to see the building from each angle but also to find some old German gravestones. They really are interesting and make the whole experience of visiting the Church of Peace even more special.
The Church of Peace in Swidnica, together with the Church of Peace in Jawor (35 km away) were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as the largest timber-framed religious buildings in Europe and the symbol of the quest for religious freedom.
Other Swidnica attractions
While the Church of Peace is the highlight of the town, other Swidnica attractions aren’t too bad either. I recommend visiting the tourist information point, located in the town hall, to get more information about the city and all it has to offer.
One of the most precious Swidnica monuments is St. Stanislaus and St. Wenceslaus Cathedral, with the high tower seen from far away (with the height of 103 meters this is the 5th tallest church tower in Poland). The Gothic cathedral dates back to the 14th century and is truly amazing with its architecture and interior (be sure to check the ceiling!). Unfortunately, when I visited part of the cathedral was being renovated but still what I could see left me really impressed.
Main Square of Swidnica is one of those picturesque squares you can find in Central Europe, with pastel townhouses and cobblestones on the ground. It’s one of those places when you sight in delight as soon as you lay eyes on it.
This is exactly what happened to me, I stormed into the Main Square and suddenly I stood still, looking at all the beauty around. I knew this place will be beautiful, but I didn’t expect it to be THAT pretty! I blamed my first impression on the soft sunset light but on the next day, the Main Square kept impressing me over and over again.
Main Square is surrounded by townhouses and each of them is simply the prettiest. It’s worth giving yourself a bit of time here to wander around and to carefully look at each of the buildings and its details. They date back mostly to the 17th-18th centuries but you can find even older ones, they were mostly built in Renaissance or Baroque styles.
I can guarantee you will be amazed by all of them! You will find some nice townhouses in the streets leading to the Main Square but the most incredible ones are on the square itself.
As you might notice, many of the townhouses have wide gates instead of the standard door – it was designed on purpose to make trading easier. Many of the houses (over 250) specialized in beer production and big barrels were easier to transport through the wide gates. In the past, Swidnica really was one of the most important brewing centers in Europe!
On all four corners of the Main Square, you will find fountains originally from the first half of the 18th century. Next to one of them, Neptune’s Fountain, you will see the Baroque St. Trinity’s Column from 1693 – it was supposed to show the geometrical middle of the medieval town. These are such beautiful additions to the overall scenery of the Main Square that altogether reminded me a lot of Lviv, Ukraine.
While you are on Main Square don’t miss the Museum of the Old Trade, located in the Town Hall (the entrance is next to the Neptune’s Fountain). This is such an interesting place to visit, focusing on the history of Swidnica and its great, centuries-old trade traditions.
Besides the very informative and diverse exhibition, you can also see here some original interiors with 16th-century polychrome. I also really liked the model of the city showing how Swidnica used to look in the 17th century (the center didn’t change all that much since then).
And then go to the top of the town hall tower to get another perspective of the city and see Swidnica from above. It looks so pretty with colorful townhouses, the impressive cathedral tower, and the rolling mountains in the distance.
The tower is a fairly new addition to the building – the original one collapsed in 1967 during renovations of the nearby houses. But nevertheless, the views from the top are really lovely and you can compare the modern view of Swidnica with the one from the 17th century you could see in the Museum of Old Trade.
These are only the main attractions of Swidnica but the city is simply packed with historic houses and buildings – the majority of those you can find in the center have a big value and are pleasant to the eye. There are also some really fine murals around that each fan of street art will surely appreciate as I did.
Once you are tired of all the sightseeing there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars where you can sit down and relax. Most of them are located on Main Square so you can enjoy the place and its beauty while resting a bit.
My favorite place was Trykotaże cafe – not only I loved their raw, concrete interior but the coffee and cake were delicious! Another good option is GAŁKA gelato & caffe – their ice cream was amazing!
If you want to grab a drink, Ambasada San EscoBAR seems to be the best option in Swidnica (bonus points for the funny name that sadly can’t be really translated).
Final thoughts on visiting Swidnica
As you can see, Swidnica really is an interesting place to visit that offers so much history and beauty. It can be visited as one of the day trips from Wroclaw but it can be the destination itself – the city is so pleasant and pretty, and can be a great place to simply enjoy the vibe of the smaller Polish town.
Kind of like with a few other interesting smaller Polish cities (like Przemysl, Jelenia Gora, Zamosc or Sandomierz), I’m surprised Swidnica doesn’t get more recognition among international travelers. This city is such a gem and I definitely recommend visiting it when you are in the Lower Silesia region. I’m sure you will find it as beautiful and interesting as I did!
Where to go next
I believe Lower Silesia is the most interesting part of Poland and offers so many diverse attractions. Fortunately, some of them are located not far from Swidnica and you can combine checking them with visiting the city.
You can go to the other UNESCO-listed Church of Peace in Jawor and on the way stop in the Railway Museum in Jaworzyna Śląska. You can visit spectacular Ksiaz Castle in Walbrzych (one of the most beautiful and the 3rd largest castle in Poland) and then continue to the wonderful spa-town Szczawno Zdroj.
Or you can continue south, towards the mountains – the nearest ones are the Owl Mountains where you can also find some incredible sights, such as the underground town Osówka (built by Nazis) or Riese complex (it was supposed to be one of Hitler’s main headquarters, but it was never finished).
And these are only a few interesting places you can visit near Swidnica! A week would be not enough to see the highlights of Lower Silesia, it is so packed with attractions!
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