Lower Silesia (in Polish-Dolny Śląsk, in Czech-Dolní Slezsko, in German-Niederschlesien) is a region located in south-western territory of today`s Poland but, historically, an area equally influenced by Polish, Czech, German, and Austrian cultures. It is a region exceptionally rich in natural resources and landscapes. As it is often the case, the variety and complexity of the human and institutional relations throughout history (e.g. all of the enumerated cultures developed stable political organizations since early modernity) found the appropriate expression in architecture. Traces of this syncretism last until today. Cities of Lower Silesia such as Wrocław (Breslau in German) display a wide range of styles, from Renaissance to modernism. The public buildings of the entire Silesian area, administrative, educational, as well as religious, have a spectacular look about them, and some managed to resist the misfortunes of history, like cruelty and prejudice such are the cases of the White Stork Synagogue of Wrocław and the Church of Peace of Świdnica. Some others, more fortunate, like the Under the Golden Sun tenement house located in the Old Town of Wrocław witnessed several waves of renovations and changes of inhabitance patterns (e.g. from private to public, from administrative to cultural, etc.) that echo the changing political circumstances or simply the human fate.
The Baroque, as well as its late version, the Rococo, is particularly eye-arresting, hence its representation in many of the photos in this article. The facade of the public buildings of Lower Silesia built in this style are rather known, hence the choice to focus more on the interiors, and more precisely on the ceilings. Similar to the facades, the ceilings offer the architect or the interior designer the opportunity to practice the imagination or, better said, to invent or represent a certain type of story.
Therefore, the first on the list is a public building, an UNESCO monument, the Church of Peace (Kościół Pokoju) located in Świdnica (Schweidnitz). This is a timber made church with exquisite interiors. Much information is provided on the internet but it is still worth mentioning that this church built in the seventieth century is dedicated to the Lutheran faith, and its construction was seen as a privilege awarded by the then Catholic authorities to the Protestant minority. Its very conception translated this message: the church was not supposed to compete with the Catholic related constructions, hence it was made of wood (e.g. therefore not to last), and it did not have a belfry.
Afterwards, we go to another Baroque example, the Under the Golden Sun building located in central Wrocław. The name is related to the sun spheres on the roof, and the representation of sun on the house facade. This is a much older building, dating as early as thirteenth century, but amply renovated in the Baroque style in the seventeenth. Today, the building hosts the Pan Tadeusz Museum, a multimedia/interactive museum dedicated to the eponymous character of the Romantic writer Adam Mickiewicz, and to the Polish Romanticism in general (i.e. although this last aspect is rather controversial). Impressively enough, the latest renovation of the Under the Golden Sun house succeeded to maintain parts of the fifteen century version, as well as to amass a multitude of contrasting styles, as seen in the ceilings: neo-classic patterns go along with folk inspired wooden ceilings rich in floral patterns, as well as in representations of city and village life of the early Silesian modernity.
The magnificent building of the Wrocław University is a Baroque point of reference per se. As common place as it may look, it is still important to comment that the building and its structure represent a standing proof of the city`s life and affairs throughout its modern history (e.g. the notable beginnings of the university can be temporarily located in the early eighteenth century). The imposing halls translate the most important enterprise of an educational institution, namely that of being a bridge between the spiritual and the psychical world, between the art and the science, between the heart and the brain. The photos of this article focus on Aula Leopoldina and the Music Hall (e.g. the former is named after the establisher of the institution, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I of the House of Austria). Yet, apart from the ceremony and the musical room, the University Church vault deserve special attention as well, hence the reader of these lines is invited to explore it by himself/herself.
Last, the building of the White Stork Synagogue, a place that is sadly associated with the fate of the Breslau Jews (e.g. here the groups of people were formed to be sent to one of the deaths camps of the area), has witnessed revival in the last years. From a formerly dull area associated with negative symbols, it flourished into a bohemian area full of enterprises like associations, NGOs and other educational institutions. The interior of the main body of the Synagogue (e.g. which, ironically enough, was never completely destroyed, not even during the Nazi rule of the city) was rebuilt in neo-classic style. Indeed, the bright and colourful over layered ceilings re-tell in a modern way the ancient story of the Jewish people. The religious traditional ornaments are represented in a modernist style.

One thought on “Baroque, Neo-Classic, and Folk Motives on Ceilings in Lower Silesia

  1. Very nice article and I really enjoyed all the different examples or architecture. Not just a mixture of different time periods but of different cultures as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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