Last week I blogged about St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta (Mighty Malta) and called it the most beautiful church I’ve ever been in. I have to amend that. St John’s is the most beautiful traditional church I’ve been in. My friends at Emporis in Hamburg, Germany, sent me a press release today titled “The World’s Most Spectacular Churches”, and maybe I’ll be able to say I’ve been in 5 of them soon.
Seemingly in no particular order, the 1st is the Catedral Metropolitana…in Brasilia, Brazil. Emporis’ information says that it was built as part of the new capital with “hyperbolic form which is evoked by 16 concrete pillars”. To me, it looks like a giant, squashed oil tank or beef rib roast. The inside, if its picture does it justice, looks like a modern version of The Apocalypse as interpreted by glass sculptors with outstanding color sense.
#2 is the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Évry, France. Its most distinctive feature is a circle of 24 lime trees on its roof. They look like they’re on an amusement park ride. The interior appears more traditional.
#3 is the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, the 1st one I’ve actually been in. Emporis notes that its nickname is “Beverly Hills on the Rocks”. That suits. The best part about being there is sitting quietly inside and looking out upon colorful, natural rocks.
#4 is Hallgrimskirkja, the soaring Lutheran cathedral in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s so tall at almost 240 feet that it can be seen from all over town and manages to be both plain and ornate at the same time. Those who don’t go up into the bell tower miss the best view of Reykjavik. The picture of it above is from Emporis.
#5 is Iglesia Parroquial en Rivas Vaciamadrid, a church and parish center in the Madrid area. Its rust color makes it look like a grim weapon in a science fiction movie, maybe an alien army tank. It’s really what’s called for-ten steel, and its architects describe their design as an explosion, frozen an instant after detonation. Not exactly my vision of a church but, nevertheless, a break with tradition.
#6 is the Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy. Also known as Dio Padre Misericordioso, God the Merciful, it looks to me like the architects, Ricahrd Meier & his partners, were a bit inspired by the Sydney Opera House. They claim it’s a ship that includes The Holy Trinity. If seems a bit hard to get to, but Ruth and I will try to see it next week. When in Rome….
#7, the Leaf Chapel in Hokuto, Japan, will probably become my favorite if I get a chance to see it. Looking like a giant geode in a traditional Japanese garden, it apparently shows a delicate leaf pattern on it shell outside when illuminated at night. Quite stunning.
#8 is the Neue Synagoge in Mainz, Germany, that was built on the location of this city’s former main synagogue and dedicated 3 years ago. It’s design immediately reminded me of Daniel Libeskind’s unforgettable Jewish Museum in Berlin, but on a much smaller scale.
#9, which Ruth and I have been in, is the Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki, Finland. Also used for concerts, this 1960s granite incorporating design would not be out of place in Bedrock City.
#10 is the familiar United States Air Force Cadet Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs, an architectural wonder that is proving to be timeless. Emporis notes that it has separate chapels for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist worshippers with an additional 2 rooms where all religions can hold services.