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How about transforming a historic church for yourself?

Marta Kowalska
24 of February '21

Maybe a decade ago in Poland, the desacralization of churches was controversial, but even then in Western Europe old churches, chapels and monasteries were being converted into apartments or even entertainment facilities. Today, the offer to sell a historic church in Lower Silesia has attracted a lot of interest not only from the media, but also from buyers. Is this the beginning of a new trend?

A risky investment?

Why is the information about the possibility of buying a church in Poland pleasing many architects? So far the trend has been simple - unnecessary old buildings are much cheaper to demolish than to renovate and give new functions. Especially since, according to Polish Canon Law, churches that no longer serve a sacred function can be converted for secular use except for vaguely defined "improper" purposes. And these improper purposes are often feared by merchants. In addition, as is well known, the relationship between architects and historic preservationists is sometimes strained, hence the adaptation of such a potentially valuable (but still, deteriorating and unused for years) property often involves a years-long road through the ordeal. That's why transforming old churches remains a rarity in our country, and real estate agents don't often take the risk.

Church for sporzedaż | photo: press materials of Dakid Business Solutions

historic church for sale

This time is different. Not only has the historic church been put up for sale, but it has received the attention of many portals, television, and consequently buyers and architects - those who believe that instead of demolishing, it is worth investing in transforming and giving a new function. Real estate sales company Dakid Business Solutions has posted an ad - an offer to sell an evangelical church dating back to the 19th century. For 350 thousand zlotys you can buy the building as well as the 1300 meter plot of land on which it stands, all in the picturesque land of Lower Silesia, on the border of Piotrowice and Kąty Wrocławskie.

Church for sale | YouTube press materials Dakid Business Solutions

The property is perfect for cultural activities, conferences, a meeting place or a private multi-level office. The interior is more than 10 meters high, it is one large open space with side built-ins. - Michal Banaszak, a representative of Dakid Business Solutions, described the investment in an interview with Money.pl.

Church for sale | photo: press materials of Dakid Business Solutions

The building itself has an area of 468 meters and is owned by a private individual. The church was established in 1832 and was built by the German community. Since Catholics settled in the area of Lower Silesia, it has been unused and, despite its architectural value and beautiful location, no new function has been assigned to it.

Church for sale | photo: press materials of Dakid Business Solutions

popular conversions

There are well-known examples of numerous conversions in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, where the law is quite lenient on the use of abandoned church buildings, and not only private investors, but also municipal officials and architects have discovered that giving new functions and keeping old buildings useful has great value not only architecturally, but also socially. This is how numerous restaurants, community centers and even skateparks were created in "post-church" ruins. On a popular portal - an international hotel search engine, you can find dozens of restored historic churches serving as hotels.

In the footsteps of Wroclaw

In Poland, Wrocław is leading the way in the topic of transformation . There, as many as four cathedrals, two basilicas and more than a dozen sanctuaries and churches no longer perform their former functions but remain in use. Among them is the former St. Catherine's Monastery Church, once one of Wroclaw's largest monastery complexes. It was founded in 1294 by Prince Henry V the Fat. During the siege of Festung Breslau, the building was completely destroyed. Reconstruction did not begin until the 1970s, and today there are dining establishments, offices and music clubs. Another well-known building that is no longer a church is the headquarters of the Wroclaw Museum of Architecture. The former Bernardian monastery complex also houses the offices of the Municipal Conservator of Monuments.

Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw | photo: Wiki Commons

give function instead of demolition

Not only the law, preservationists, but also social beliefs about the "sanctity of architecture" have so far prevented such actions. The Greek Catholic Church of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baligrod was to be demolished. The local Bieszczady community could not imagine using the building for other - new, unnamed purposes, but miraculously it survived. Among other things, thanks to the persistence and initiatives of architect Lukasz Palczynski. To this day it functions as a meeting place for Cultural Territories, concerts, festivals and exhibitions.

The rescued Orthodox church in the Bieszczady Mountains | photo: Wiki Commons

From year to year, the use of religious buildings is becoming more common, but the purchase of this unique church has received special coverage in the Polish media. Is this also an example of the currently intensely changing approach to the glorification of churches?

Will the high-profile sale of a historic church change thinking about religious buildings that are no longer in use and often deteriorate?

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The vote has already been cast

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