20 Unusual Churches (Part I)By Village Mayor • Oct 25th, 2008 • Category: Architecture, Latest Post, The Best of Village of Joy
Is there a God? This must be the most popular and most often asked question of all times. Well, I can’t help you there, sorry.
This post is not about religion, it’s about architecture. Not just architecture, but unusual architecture, and to be more exact – unusual churches.
I am sure that there are hundreds and thousands of beautiful churches around the world, but only very very few are so odd, that you would definitely take a camera and take a picture. If you are interested, here’s the list of 20 unusual churches that I found.
P.S.: if you know or have a picture of an unusual church, send it to us (email on about page).
1. The Church of Hallgrímur, Reykjavík, Iceland
(Image Credits: Stuck in Customs)
The Church of Hallgrímur is very very unusual, never seen anything like that.
This Lutheran parish church is also a very tall one, reaching 74.5 metres (244 ft) height. It is the fourth tallest architectural structure in Iceland.
It took incredibly long to build it (38 years!) Construction work began in 1945 and ended in 1986.
The Architect of this building is Guðjón Samúelssondesign.
More info: Hallgrímskirkja
2. Cathedral of Brasilia in Brasilia, Brazil
(Image Credits: = xAv =)
(Image Credits: Victor Soares, Agência Brazil)
This is a very famous Cathedral of Brasília designed by Oscar Niemeyer. It looks really modern but somehow childish to me. These columns, having hyperbolic section and weighing 90 t, represent two hands moving upwards to heaven.
The construction was finished in 1970.
More info: Cathedral of Brasília
3. Paoay Church (St. Augustine Parish) in Philippines
(Image Credits: Storm Crypt)
Paoay Church reminds me of Aztec architecture. It looks very massive and strong. The walls of the church are 1.67 meters thick and are supported by 24 carved and massive buttresses.
Its construction started in 1704 and was completed in 1894 by the Augustinian friars led by Fr. Antonio Estavillo. It is said, that Its construction primarily was intended to withstand earthquakes. And it could test the strength of the walls very soon, because the church was damaged by an earthquake in 1706 and 1927.
The design of the church is a mixture of Gothic, Oriental and Baroque influence.
4. Duomo (Milan Cathedral) in Italy
(Image Credits: Stuck in Customs)
Duomo looks incredibly tall and majestic. It even has an evil and scary look in this picture. After checking the Wikipedia for more info I found there were more photos of this cathedral, but they don’t look as cool as this photo here. Maybe its just an illusion made by a good photographer that this building is so amazing.
On the other hand, Mark Twain said the following of the Duomo in Milan in his work, Innocents Abroad:
“They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.”
More info: Wikipedia.
5. Church Ruins in Goreme, Turkey
(Image Credits: shapeshift)
The rock cut ruins of a church by persecuted Christians.
Not sure when it was built, but definitely look very ancient. How did those guys carved the inside of these rocks?
The Cappadocia valley, where this church stands, is very popular for its rocks that the people of the villages at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries.
There are an estimated 150 churches and several monasteries in the canyon between the villages of Ihlara and Selime.
Those rocks are volcanic deposits, so that means they are soft rocks, making it possible to carve such structures.
6. Green church, Buenos Aires, Argentina
(Image Credits: Magda-50)
Don’t have info about this church, nevertheless it’s very unusual. I have never seen a church so green, have you?
Michael: “a parish church in Buenos Aires, Argentina known as the “Huerto de Olivos”, or “Garden of Olives,” most likely a reference Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives”
7. Borgund Stave Church, Lærdal, Norway
(Image Credits: Wikipedia)
Stave churches may have been very usual all over medieval northwestern Europe but now you can only find them in Norway. Well ok, there is one one in Sweden, but nowhere else.
Borgund stave church located in Borgund, Lærdal, Norway is the best preserved of Norway’s 28 extant stave churches. This wooden church, probably built in the end of the 12th century, has not changed structure or had a major reconstruction since the date it was built.
Interesting fact: the church is also featured as a Wonder for the Viking civilization in the video game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.
8. Paraportiani Church, Mykonos, Greece
(Image Credits: marcelgermain)
I will just cite, what the author of this picture wrote about it:
“Paraportianí Church is one of the most famous architectural structures in Greece. Its name means secondary gate, because it was built on the site of one of the gates of the Medieval stone walls. Some parts of this beautiful church date from 1425 and the rest was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. ”
9. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
(Image Credits: Wolfgang Staudt)
I have never seen anything as incredible as this building! Never been to Spain, but if I ever happen to do so, I will definitely include Sangrada Família on the must-see list. I wonder, how does it look in reality?
Sagrada Família is a very massive Roman Catholic basilica under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Construction began in 1882 and continues to this day. A very famous architect Antoni Gaudí worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to this endeavour.
In the center there is going to be a tower of Jesus Christ, surmounted by a giant cross; the tower’s total height will be 170 m (557,7ft).
There is so much info on this one, that you should check Wikipedia.
10. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
(Image Credits: Lst1984)
Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed , is a multi-tented church which stands on the Red Square in Moscow.
This church looks really cool, because It has very unusual onion domes which look playful and colorful. Sometimes people even say, that they remind them of lollypops.
The cathedral was built in 1555 -1561 by Ivan IV (a.k.a Ivan the Terrible) to celebrate the capture of the Khanate of Kazan.
A legend says that Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him from building a more magnificent building for anyone else. In fact, Postnik Yakovlev built a number of churches after Saint Basil’s.
More info: Saint Basil’s Cathedral
11. Church in Stykkishólmur, Iceland
(Image Credits: omarrun)
(Image Credits: omarrun)
This church in Iceland looks really weird, like some alien structure. If you have more info on that one, let me know.
Update: It was built in 1990 and the architect is Jón Haraldsson.
12. Basilica de Higuey, Dominican Republic
(Image Credits: Fernando Rossi)
Basilica de Higuey is located in the city of Higuey, Dominican Republic. Its unusual look reminds me of a basket.
The church is one of the most respected monuments of the Dominican Republic. The basilica was inaugurated on January 21, 1971, and was built by French architects.
13. Grace Fellowship Baptist Church, Baltimore Road in Detroit, Michigan, USA
(Image Credits: Derek Farr ( DetroitDerek ))
This strange building is actually a church. Once it was famous for being “Detroit’s most beautiful Chinese-American restaurant”. Later it closed down and became the Omega Baptist Church and then the Grace Fellowship Baptist Church. Located at 265 Baltimore, MD, USA.
14. Las Lajas Cathedral in Colombia
(Image Credits: Jungle_Boy)
(Image Credits: julkastro)
Las Lajas Cathedral looks unusual to me because one side of it seems to be a part of a bridge across the river and the other side rests on the hill. The overall look is really fascinating.
Built in 1916 inside the canyon of the Guaitara river where, according to local legend, the Virgin Mary appeared.
You can find this church in southern Colombian Department of Nariño, municipality of Ipiales, near the border with Ecuador.
15. Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy
(Image Credits: alaninabox)
(Image Credits: alaninabox)
Jubilee Church has very distinctive curved walls which look like sails to me. Designed in 1996 by architect Richard Meier, the church has curved walls which serve the engineering purpose of minimizing thermal peak loads in the interior space.
The walls are made from a special cement, which contain titanium dioxide, so it destroys air pollution.
According to Borgarello “When the titanium dioxide absorbs ultraviolet light, it becomes powerfully reactive, breaking down pollutants that come in contact with the concrete.”
16. St Joseph Ukrainian Catholic Church in Chicago, IL, USA
(Image Credits: Giant Ginkgo)
Maybe I’ll better don’t tell what those domes remind me (haha). Very very unusual looking building I must say. Its massiveness and gray color looks like Soviet architecture. I was amazed when I read that it was actually in USA and not somewhere In Soviet Union.
St. Joseph Ukrainian Catholic church is a is most known for its ultra-modern thirteen gold domed roof symbolizing the twelve apostles and Jesus Christ as the largest center dome.
It is celebrating its 52 years, so it was built in 1956 (if my calculations are right).
More info on Wikipedia: St Joseph Ukrainian Church
17. Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France
(Image Credits: jimgrant)
Someone told that the roof of this building looks like Elvis’ hair.
Informally known as Ronchamp, the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut was completed in 1954 and is considered one of the finest examples of architecture by the late French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier.
Most interesting fact to me is that, when it rains, water pours off the slanted roof onto a fountain, creating a dramatic waterfall.
More info on Wikipedia: Notre Dame du Haut
18. Odd Church in Huntington Beach, CA, USA
(Image Credits: woolennium)
Don’t have info on that one, only this photo and the location: Huntington Beach, CA, USA.
As far as I understand it must be sponsored by Shell, because it has a huge SHELL logo on it (this statement can be absolutely different from the reality). Looks terrible overall.
19. Chapel of St. Gildas, Brittany, France
(Image Credits: Touring Boy)
This church is really odd one, sorry I have no info on it, only the words of the picture author: “This was on the canal to Carnac. Really odd church in the (seeming) middle of nowhere. ”
Mads: “This is the chapel of St-Gildas, which sits upon the bank of the Canal du Blavet in Brittany, France. “Built like a stone barn into the base of a bare rocky cliff, this was once a holy place of the Druids. Gildas appears to have travelled widely throughout the Celtic world of Corwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He arrived in Brittany in about AD 540 and is said to have preached Christianity to the people from a rough pulpit, now contained within the chapel.” (from ‘Cruising French Waterways’ by Hugh McKnight p.150)”
20. Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
(Image Credits: Phillie Casablanca)
Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro looks like a Pyramid of Egypt or Aztecs.
It was built between 1964 and 1979. Conical in form it has internal diameter of 96 metres (315 ft) and an overall height of 75 metres (246 ft). The church has a standing-room capacity of 20,000 people.
Four rectilinear stained glass windows soar 64 metres (210 ft) from floor to ceiling.