8 of the Coolest (and Strangest) Churches from Around the World

  • If you think going to church is boring, try visiting one of these houses of worship.

We can all picture a Christian church. There’s the tall steeple, the rows of pews, the altar, and a painting or crucifix hanging over it.

Well, that’s the average church at least. But not every church falls into that stereotypical mold.

Whether it’s because an architect wanted to create a “modern” church or the unusual appearance was due to money or construction constraints, some churches can get pretty unusual.

Here’s a collection of both cool and strange churches from all over the world that even a non-religious person can appreciate. An awesome building is an awesome building, after all.

1. Reading Between the Lines Church — Belgium

Photo: ForgeMind Archimedia, Flickr

Now, this first entry is cheating a bit because it’s technically not a church. Instead, it’s a very church-like work of sculptural art located in Borgloon, Belgium.

The Reading Between the Lines Church consists of 100 layers of steel plates. At first glance, it looks like any countryside church, but when the setting sun hits it, you see that it’s hollow with ethereal see-through walls.

The sculpture was designed by architect Gijs Van Vaerenbergh. It provides a commentary about the diminishing importance of the churches found throughout Belgium.

2. Temppeliaukio Church — Finland

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Temppeliaukio Church (also called the Church of the Rock) doesn’t look like much from the outside. That’s because it’s almost entirely underground.

Completed in 1969, the church is mined straight into solid rock. Above the spacious interior is a copper dome with plenty of windows to let natural light in.

The Temppeliaukio Church is a popular tourist attraction in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. Fun fact — due to its appearance, locals have nicknamed the church “the anti-devil bunker.”

3. Las Lajas Shrine — Colombia

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Las Lajas Shrine in southern Colombia is one seriously impressive work of architecture. It looks like something straight out of a fantasy novel or movie.

Las Lajas is built in a natural canyon above the Guáitara River. A majestic stone bridge leads to the Gothic-style basilica, while a natural waterfall cascades in the background.

It’s no wonder the gorgeous site has become a popular pilgrimage destination in Colombia. According to legend, Virgin Mary appeared at the site two hundred years before the church was built.

4. Borgund Stave Church — Norway

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Borgund Stave Church Lærdal, western Norway, is significant for two things. First, the entirely wooden church looks cool as all hell (if you can say that about a church).

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the church was built around 1200. Apart from minor additions to the interior of the church, what you see from the outside is still the same 800-year-old structure.

Essentially, this is the closest thing you can find to a Viking church. It even has dragon sculptures on its roof that resemble the bows of Viking longships.

5. Church in the Hill — Luxembourg

Photo: Amy Barr, Flickr

Like the Temppeliaukio Church, the Church in the Hill is carved into natural stone. But this church has taken a different approach to going underground.

Instead of digging straight down, this Luxembourgian church is hacked into a vertical rock wall. Despite that, the architect (whomever it was) managed to incorporate a steeple into the structure.

The tiny Luxembourg has managed to keep its independence between Germany and France because its mountainous landscape is naturally fortifiable. This church is a perfect example of how that works.

6. Church by the Sea — Florida

Photo: Church by the Sea

The Church by the Sea is a non-denominational church located near St. Petersburg, Florida. Historically, there’s nothing particularly important about it.

But come on — the steeple looks like a surprised chicken!

The tower’s bird-like appearance wasn’t even intentional but a happy little accident. Although the church itself tries to downplay its fowl looks, we can bet the chicken steeple has brought a ton of visitors (and probably a few members) to the church.

7. Bruder Klaus Chapel — Germany

Photo: WikiArquitectura

The Bruder Klaus Chapel (okay, technically not a church but close enough) really doesn’t look like a house of worship. Instead, it appears to be a slab of concrete standing in the southern German countryside.

But the structure is intended to create a place of contemplation by isolating the visitor from the outside world. Entering the chapel, you come into a small tight space, illuminated by nothing but the sun above — perfect for meditating on whichever deity you pick.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is how the chapel was built. The architects constructed the outline of the chapel from tree trunks, encased them in concrete, and then burned the wood away.

The process left the structure hollow and with a natural wood texture on its interior surfaces.

8. Sedlec Ossuary — Czech Republic

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sedlec Ossuary may not be a place for faint-hearted worshippers. The interior of the chapel is furnished with the bones of 40,000-70,000 people.

The macabre decoration was born out of simple necessity. Following the Black Death and several wars in the 14th and 15th centuries, the church’s graveyards were overflowing with human remains.

So, local monks decided to start packing the bones into the chapel. The most impressive feature is the chandelier, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body.

The chapel definitely works as a striking reminder of how fleeting human lives are.