Unusual Places to Find a ChurchEurope
Churches can be found in all sorts of unusual places, from atop a lonely mountainside to an isolated or even uninhabited island.
Churches have been built for over a thousand years, many of them in very inaccesible places, although when they were built they were situated in the heart of a thriving community.
This article is not about unusual churches, although most of them here are, but about churches in unusual places.
I have searched long and hard in order to find some examples in strange and unique locations.
I did'nt find many, but those I did, I think you'll agree, are in some very strange places indeed.
IN A CAVE.
Places of worship inside caves are not unusual, especially in Asia, but a modern church in Europe, that is unusual.
This fine example is the Lutheran Temppeliaukio situated in Helsinki, Finland.
Designed by brothers Tino and Tuomo Suomalainen and completed in 1969, the church is often used as a concert venue due to it's fine accoustics.
The church was excavated from the glacial rock that runs under the city.
The only part visable from above ground is a large glazed dome which gives the church it's daytime interior lighting.
IN A HILL.
No, not on a hill, in a hill, actually built into the hillside.
This quaint example is situated in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
If you look at the top of the picture closely, you can see the road that passes over the hill.
IN A SALT MINE.
There were a few examples of churches in salt mines, but this one in Wieliczka, Poland, is the finest example.
The original salt mine dates back to the 13th century and were producing salt right up until the 1980's.
This beautiful example, which houses several religious rock salt, carvings throughout, is now an UNESCO world heritage site.
The church is part of a large tourist attraction that includes the workings, tunnels and caverns of the now extinct mines.
IN A TREE.
This is my favourite, and the inspiration for this article, a church in a tree.
The 15 metre by 16 metre base of a 1,000 year old oak tree houses the two chapels of Notre Dame De La Paix and Chambre de l'Hermite in the town of Allouville - Bellefosse in Seine - Maritime, France.
Built in 1669, this is one of three oak tree churches situated in France.
ON A BRIDGE.
The Chapel of our Lady of Rotherham is situated on a bridge that spans the River Don in Rotherham, Yorkshire, U.K.
Built in 1483 by Thomas de Rotherham, this stone chapel is now a grade I listed building.
The chapel has had many identities over the years including a tobaccanist's shop and a private dwelling, but is now back to being used for the purpose in which it was intended.
ON A CLIFF FACE.
There are many ancient sites built into the sides of cliffs, but most are inaccessible and defunct, but this rock has weathered the test of time admirably and is not only still accessible but still in use as a house of worship.
Known as the Church of Rock it's official title is Felsen Kirche.
The Catholic church stands 60 metres above the Rhineland town of Ida Oberstein in Germany, and dates back to the 13th century.
ON A VOLCANIC PLUG.
We have all seen examples of churches precariously situated on the top of a lonely mountain, but this one in France is no ordinary mount, this church, built in 962, stands proud upon a volcanic outcrop known as a volcanic plug.
A volcanic plug is created when magma hardens within the vent or opening of an active volcano.
This church stands 279 ft ( 85 m) above the surrounding countryside of Le Puy - en Velay, France.
ON THE SIDE OF A CANYON.
I found quite a few mountainside churches during my research for this article, but this one is the most extraordinary example.
The vast Basilica of Las Lajas clings precariously to the side of a canyon overlooking the Guaitara River in Narino, Colombia.
The building took 33 years to construct, finally being completed in 1949.
The church was declared a basilica by the Catholic Church in 1954.
As you can see the church and canyon are accessed by way of it's own bridge.
The word las lajas refers to the granite rock from which the building was constructed.
In a town where people both live and work underground , it's only fitting their church be underground too.
Situated in the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, South Australia, this underground Serbian Orthodox church was constructed from a disused opal mine, just like most of the residents homes.
Coober Pedy day time temperatures often reach 40 degrees centigrade or more, so constructing homes and public buildings undeground is definately the cooler option.
King George Island. Longyearbyen.
AND, Just in case you were wondering, the world's most northerly church is the Longyearbyen Lutheran Church on the Spitzbergen archipelago in Norway, and the world's most southerly church is the Russian Orthodox Trinity Church on King George Island, Antarctica, which was built in 2004..
There are two churches that are considered to be the world's most isolated, as there are two churches on the world's most isolated island. They are St Mary's Anglican Church, built in 1923 and St Joseph's Catholic Church built in 1995, both situated on the island of Tristan Da Cunha, in the south Atlantic.
OTHER CHURCH ARTICLES BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Images courtesy of wikimedia commons.