While the secular trend is sweeping the land and gathering more and more adepts each day, for some people, church remains as the place where they can be alone with their thoughts and the best location for a thorough introspection. Sure, the societal role of the institution is considerably reduced these days and the various attempts of the religious leaders to break the rule of the separation of church and state don’t go by unnoticed. However, we shouldn’t forget that church also played an important role in education, art, history and helped us become what we are today. In the following article, we won’t be discussing these critical issues, but we will in visit ten of the most intricate churches and their eccentric locations.
True, the Trinity Church in Antarctica doesn’t impress via fine architecture like most European cathedrals. However, this 15 meter tall construction is an outstanding evidence of a great architectural mind and frankly, the warmest place for any follower of the Russian Orthodox Church to be in on this ice desert. Constructed in the early 1990s, the edifice is made out of a single Siberian Pine that was dismantled and put together again on the icy continent.
2. A tree
Even though it measures 15 meters in height and has a diameter of 16 meters, the Chêne Chapelle or the “chapel oak” hosts two unique chapels. Built in the Medieval Ages, the church in a tree from France is nothing like you have ever seen and due to its mysterious aura and unusual construction featuring an exterior staircase leading to the chapels, you could easily believe that you are on the set of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
3. On top of a volcano
While a church standing solitary atop of a mountain is not unusual, the Our Lady of Le Puy in France is a magnificent structure built over a volcano plug. Considering that the church stands 85 meters high over an active volcano, I guess nobody can contest the fact that the architects have taken the phrase “put your faith in the Lord” very seriously.
4. In a hill
If you ever wondered how a small country like Luxemburg managed to remain independent in spite of having strong neighbors like Germany and France, then the “Church in a hill” might provide you with an answer. Essentially, the entire region is naturally fortified with gorges and steeps that made it impossible for a large army to get around very easily. Besides, the scarce bridges that were build high above and the cleverly hidden homes and edifices would have provided sufficient time for the local population to hide and defend itself from invaders.
5. On a bridge
Erected in the 13th century by Thomas de Rotterdam, the Chapel of Our Lady stands proud on the Rotterdam Bridge that reigns over the River Don in Yorkshire. Even though its location has conferred the edifice many applications throughout the centuries, nowadays the last survivor of the numerous Bridge Chantries is finally back to being used for its original purpose.
6. One the side of a canyon
Another noteworthy example of constructors who took Christian belief very seriously stems from the Basilica of Las Lajas in Colombia. While it appears to be barely attached to the granite rock of the canyon overlooking the Guaitara River, the edifice is in fact a solid construction that doesn’t present any risk of collapse, as the thousands of visitors it receives each year proved time and time again. On a side note, unlike the chapel in Le Puy, the Las Lajas church is a modern construction that was finalized in 1949 and was declared a basilica a few years after.
7. On a cliff face
Dating back to the 13th century, the Church of Rock in Felsenkirche Germany is among the very few edifices built on a cliff face that have passed the test of time. In addition to its unmatched beauty, the Felsen Kirche is shrouded by the aura of mystery by a fascinating local legend: a young man killed his brother in the heat of a moment after the latter announced his marriage plans with the women they both loved. Filled with remorse, Wyrich – the killer – underwent a long period of penance and decided to erect a church on the exact spot his brother died. Exhausted from praying and working all day, the man finally received a sign that God forgave him in the form a spring that opened up in the church. The magnificent construction still stands solid 60 meters above the Rhineland town and fortunately, it is easily accessible for tourists.
8. Deserted mine
Where else could you decide to build a church in a community that is mostly composed of people who live and work underground rather than a disused mine? Similar to most homes that can be found near the opal mine in Coober Pedy in South Australia, the Serbian Orthodox Church is an underground construction and an example of genius architecture and functionality. If you are curious as to why Coober Pedy residents prefer these living conditions, then you should know that the average temperatures in the region during the day exceed 40 degrees Celsius.
9. In a cave
Even though you may argue that the idea of building a church in a cave is not exactly news flash, historical evidence shows that most of cave-church constructions were specific to the Asian region and not Europe. Built from the glacial rock that runs under the capital of Finland in the late 1960s, the Lutheran Temppeliaukio church is not only a place of worship, but rather the best place to hold a concert on the entire Scandinavian Peninsula.
10. The Northernmost church
While the Russian Orthodox Church is the builder of the Southernmost edifice, the Lutheran Church takes pride in the Northernmost church in the world, the Longyearbyen in Norway. According to tourists, if you really want to see a magical sight, then you should plan a visit to the Svalbard region during the end of the Polar Night.