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Wroclaw - a Multi-religious City

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In the abundance of the churches of Wroclaw , the Roman Catholic ones constitute the vast majority. In the very city of Wroclaw there are as many as 72 of them. The largest collection of sacred buildings can be found on Cathedral Island which is also considered to be the oldest part of the city. It is here that one can see one of the most valuable examples of the city’s church architecture – the Cathedral of  St. John the Baptist  . Not far from here is St. Gile’s church built in the Romanesque-Gothic style. Though small, the church is of great historical importance as it is the oldest church of Wroclaw still in use and at the same time the oldest preserved building of the city. The nearby St. Martin's Church is also worth mentioning as it is the remnant of the13th century royal castle of the Piast dynasty. Nowadays it is mainly remembered as the mainstay of Polish identity and culture in the period prior to the Second World War. The sightseeing of the other nearby churches: the Church of the Holy Cross and the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Sand is also recommended. The former is a unique architectural structure as it is a two-level church and contains a copy of the Shroud of Turin, whereas the latter is famous for its renovated interior and Nativity crib in one of the chapels.

As far as the most significant Roman Catholic churches of Wroclaw are concerned, one should also visit the St. Adalbert's Church in Dominikanski Square. It is one of the oldest parish churches of the city. First it was in the hands of the Augustinians’ Order but then the Dominican Order with Czeslaw Odrowaz moved to the city and built their monastery here. The church expanded and changed over the centuries, however, it was during the Second World War that it was most severely damaged. Fortunately, the church was reconstructed later. The most impressive is the Baroque chapel of Blessed Czeslaw – the patron saint of Wroclaw who is believed to have defended the city from the incursion of the Mongols (1241).

 
These are only the few out of a rich collection of the Roman Catholic churches of Wroclaw. However, Wroclaw is the city of various religions. There are also the churches or places of worship for the members of the Jewish Community, the Lutherans, the members of the Polish-Catholic Church, the Greek Catholics, the Pentecostals, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Baptists, the Orthodox Church members, Evangelical Methodist Church members, and the New Apostolic Church members. There is also Buddhist Meditation centre.
 
Among these non-Roman Catholic communities, one of the most active is the Jewish one whose origins date back to the 13th century. Their famous White Stork Synagogue built in the 1820s by a famous German architect, K.F.Langhans, is a masterpiece of art. This three-story building erected in the NeoClassical style is mostly noted for the large exterior Corinthian pillars and interior galleries. After the seizure of the building by the communist government till 1997 the synagogue was in the hands of various institutions. Thus, it needs to be renovated. With the Polish-German Cooperation grant the synagogue is still being renovated. The Jewish Community of Wroclaw is not only engaged in the renovation works but they actively participate in the educational and cultural life of the city (e.g. by organizing the White Stork Synagogue Choir which is the sole synagogue choir in Poland). Havdallah Concerts are organised once a month. After the first stage of conservation works in 1998 the synagogue was reopened to the public and Simcha – the Meetings with the Jewish culture are organized. On a regular basis services are held at the so-called Small Synagogue, whereas the White Stork Synagogue is used only during the major Jewish feasts.
 
As for the Orthodox Church members, there as many as two churches in Wroclaw. The first one is the Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother of God, formerly the Church of St. Barbara, which is at the same time the Wroc³aw-Szczecin Orthodox diocese cathedral. The other one is the Ss. Cyril, Methodius and St. Anne Orthodox Church. The latter one,situated in the vicinity of Cathedral Island, is often visited by tourists. The church itself is famous for the beautifully renovated iconostas, artistic stained glass windows and the relics of St.Tarasius, the Patriarch of Constantinopole. Apart from the services, the church has the OKTOICH ensemble which participates not only in the services but also goes on European tours.
                        
Wroclaw serves also as one of the three dioceses of the Polish-Catholic Church consisting of as many as 24 parishes. Nowadays the local Church of St. Mary Magdalene built in the Gothic style is a Polish-Catholic Church cathedral.
 
The Greek Catholics have also got their worship place in Wroclaw. Namely, the Church of St. James and St. Vincent is the Cathedral of the Wroclaw-Gdansk diocese.

The addresses of the churches and the times of the services of all the denominations mentioned above can be found at: http://www.wroclaw.pl/p/3185#10
 
 

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