Christian, Catholic, Luteran, dedicated to God and/or Holy Mary. These are churches, chapels, abbeys, monasteries or cathedrals. You can find them all over the world and although most of them are traditional, you will never believe there are some really unique and bizarre. So unusual in shape or material that you can consider them a kind of art, some type or architectural experiment, mould by the hands of men or nature.
In general, churches are buildings used for Christian religious activities, particularly for worship services. But sometimes the term is used (by analogy) to refer to buildings of other religions.
In this article you will discover 10 of the most weird and peculiar churches ever seen in the world. You will see how they are and discover where to find them.
1. The Cathedral of Brasília: the most round.
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the building is a hyperboloid structure constructed from 16 concrete columns, weighing 90 tons each. It’s dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Aparecida. The frame appears with its glass roof to be reaching up, open, to heaven.
2. Abbey of Saint Galgano, Siena: the more open.
It was a Cistercian Monastery found in the valley of the river Merse between the towns of Chiusdino and Monticiano, in the province of Siena (Tuscany region). We are in Italy and the church is completely without roof: in 1786 the campanile felt down, taking with it the roof.
3. Hallgrimskirkja Church, Island: the tallest.
It’s a Lutheran (Church of Iceland) parish church and the Reykjavík’s main landmark. Its tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. Designed by the late Guðjón Samúelsson, the church is there since 1986 and reaches an impressive 74.5 metres (244 ft) of heigh. It’s so tall that the church is also used as an observation tower.
4. Madonna delle Grazie Chapel, La Morra: the most colourful.
Also known as Santa Maria delle Grazie, it’s situated outside the medieval village of La Morra (Cuneo). We are in Italy again and the little church is dedicated to Our Lady Of Grace. It’s located on a 6-hectares-vineyard in Brunate (Barolo wine is made there) and was built as a shelter for people working in the vineyards. In fact, it’s also known as Cappella delle Brunate or Cappella del Barolo and in 1999 two artists renovated it giving a colourful look impossible not to go unnoticed.
5. Borgund Stave Church, Norway: the best preserved church all made of wood.
Built sometime between 1180 and 1250 AD, it’s classified as a triple nave stave church of the so-called Sogn-type. It is now used as a museum and it is run by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.
6. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá: the saltiest.
An underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres (220 yd) underground in a halite mountain. If you wish to visit it you must flight to Colombia. It is a very popular tourist destination and place of pilgrimage in the country. But don’t get wrong: the “Salt Cathedral” name is mostly a marketing ‘trick’ to attract tourists.
7. The Katskhi Pillar Monastery, Georgia: the most difficult to reach.
The Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith located at the village of Katskhi in western Georgian region of Imereti. On the top stands a complex consisting in a church dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a crypt (burial vault), three hermit cells, a wine cellar, and a curtain wall on the uneven top surface of the column. If you like hermitages, remote places and a tough travel, this pillar is your ideal location.
8. The Ice Hotel Church, Jukkasjärvi (northern Sweden): the colder.
About 17 Km (11 mi) from Kiruna, there is the world’s first ice hotel. It’s rebuilt each year with snow and ice. Inside, the local parish, part of the Swedish Church, runs the Ice Church that is consecrated at the Christmas Day service. It’s a regular church and each winter around 140 couples get married and 20 children baptised. Let’s say the whole structure is a piece of art and gives a stunning fantasy atmosphere only ice can create: try to believe.
9. Chapel of Bones, Evora (Portugal): the most macabre.
Locally called ‘Capela dos Ossos’, this building is entirely decorated and covered by skulls and human bones. In fact, this little chapel is home to the final resting place of hundreds of bodies, all exhumed from the city’s graveyards in the 16th Century. Thousands of bones and skulls are embedded in the walls of the chapel (5,000), intricately cast into the cement from floor to ceiling. You can read the full story here.
10. The Church of Curon Venosta (Italy): the wettest.
Not far from the border with Switzerland and Austria there was a village named Curon. At the end of 1300 people built a bell tower, separate from the church and now it is the only thing left and that you can see after the collapse of a dam in 1950. The water submerged 677 hectares of land and 150 families lost their lives. To date, the bell tower arises to remember the destruction men can sometimes cause because of their love for money (can you prove the contrary? – Ed.). You can find the complete story on Weird Italy.
According to The Complete Pilgrim, there might be around 3.1 million church buildings in the world. Therefore, chances are that in addition to this list of 10, you can discover other head-turning places that will make you shout loud “Wow”. Feel free to share your pictures with our community by commenting below.