Churches are places for worship, where people congregate to renew their faith with their god. They have been around us for a long time now. A lot of these churches have become architectural wonders, while others have become magnets for tourists. With the spread of Christianity all across Europe and even across the seas to the Americas, different churches have been built throughout the centuries. Most designs would reflect not just the architecture philosophies of the era, but also the perspective and design practicality of the place.
As a result, we have seen different styles of churches around the world. The great thing about it is that because some of the churches were built centuries ago, they have transcended religion and have become national icons and even heritage sites. Here now is a list of the most extreme and unique churches in the world.
12 Borgund Church, Laerdal, Norway
The Borgund Church is a medieval Christian church building made of wood. It is the best preserved among the 28 extant stave churches of Norway. It has been around since the 12th century and is so well preserved that no major reconstruction has ever been done.
11 Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora, Brasilia, Brazil
Oscar Niemeyer built the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora in 1970. It features a hyperboloid structure framed in concrete with a design that makes the glass roof look like it is reaching up to heaven with open arms. The structure was built using 16 identical assembled columns. They weigh a total of 90 tons.
9 Chapel of St. Gildas, Brittany, France
The Chapel of St. Gildas is located in the Blavet Valley. Situated under a giant backdrop of granite, the church lies on a grassy bank fronting a river. It is the site where Gildas, a Christian monk from Ireland, preached Christianity to the local pagan population after coming from Wales and Scotland way back in the sixth century. He and a fellow monk lived in a cave at the base of the rock. This is where the chapel currently stands.
8 Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland
The Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran church dedicated to Hallgrimur Petursson, a poet and clergyman who lived in the 17th century and who authored the Passion Hymns. Construction began in 1937 from a design made by Gudjon Samuelsson, but it was not until 1955 before it got completed. The church rises 74.5 meters tall, making it the fourth highest architectural structure in the Scandinavian country.
7 Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
The Harajuku is a Protestant church in Japan with a futuristic design. It was completed in 2005 and built by the Ciel Rouge Creation design company. The church features a uniquely designed ceiling that was especially made to allow natural sound to reverberate for two seconds. The result is a church-size echo chamber that gives the faithful a different kind of listening experience.
5 Las Lajas Sanctuary, Narino, Colombia
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a minor basilica built inside the canyon of the Guaitara River. Completed in 1949, it was designed using the Gothic revival style of architecture. The supposed apparition of the Virgin Mary to a deaf-mute, who suddenly was able to speak after seeing a silhouette while illuminated by lightning, inspired the building of the church. Up to now, believers can still see the image on the stone. The first shrine was built back in the middle of the 18th century using wood materials and straw. A larger one was built in 1802 that allowed access from the opposite side of the canyon through a bridge. The current structure was built staring in 1916 and took 33 years to finish.
4 Ruzica Church, Belgrade, Serbia
The Ruzica Church in Serbia is located in the Kalemegdan Fortress in the country’s capital. What makes this church unique are its chandeliers that feature an extreme form of art called trench art. The Turks used to occupy Kalamegdan Fortress and they had used the space where the church currently stands as a storage for its gunpowder and other deadly materials. World War I saw the defeat of the Central Powers and the Turks were forced to leave the heavily damaged area. Serbian soldiers, meanwhile, took the time of collecting spent bullet cases, gun and cannon parts and even discarded swords and sheaths. Instead of throwing them away, the soldiers painstakingly assembled them into chandeliers. These chandeliers now adorn the church as reminders of both the follies of war and the country’s past.
3 Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is named after Basil Fool of Christ, a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Cathedral has extremely unique onion-shaped domes. These domes have been painted with vibrant and eye-catching colors. The Cathedral’s domes are now considered as integral parts of the skyline as viewed from the Kremlin. Ivan the Terrible had the church was built to celebrate the capture of the Khanate of Kazan. Tsar Fedor Ivanovich later added a chapel above the grave of the saint in 1588.
2 St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Chicago
St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was completed and dedicated in 1977. The church features 12 golden domes representing the 12 apostles of Christ and one larger dome at the center symbolizing Jesus. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes, specifically Byzantine style icons. Zenon Mazurkevich designed this ultra modern church.
1 Temppeliaukio Kirkko, Helsinki, Finland
The Temppeliaukio Kirkko is a Lutheran church that is also known as the Church of the Rock. The church itself is located underground and built directly out of solid rock. It features a glazed dome that allows a lot of natural light to come in. Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen designed the church in 1961. Construction began in 1968 and inauguration was in 1969. It is one of the most popular attractions in Helsinki. It is also a popular concert venue because of the excellent acoustics that the rock walls provide.