5 Underground Churches from Around the World
In the past weâ€™ve taken a look at impressive places of worship built in the most precarious places, on top of mountains or on the sides of steep cliffs. This time, get ready to check out five unique churches located beneath the Earthâ€™s surface.
Blessed Kinga Chapel
Located only 20 km from Krakow, Bochnia is the oldest salt mine in Poland and one of the oldest in the world. It has been functioning for 750 years and the salt extracted from it has contributed to the development of Bochnia County. Nowadays, salt extraction is ceased and Bochnia operates mainly as a tourist attraction and a sanatorium.
Wazyn Chamber, considered the heart of the mine, houses one of the most unusual sacred places on Earth, Blessed Kinga Chapel. It was founded in 1747 and features a pulpit carved in salt, various salt sculptures and salt altars. On Christmas Eve and Patronâ€™s Day, high masses are conducted in this main chapel of Bochnia Salt Mine.
Catacomb Underground Church
Named after the catacombs of Rome, where the people used to bury their dead and meet in times of persecution, the Catacomb Underground Church is one of the main attractions of Coober Pedy, in the Australian Outback. Unlike the Romans, Aussies use this underground sanctuary to get away from the scorching sun.
There are five underground churches in Coober Pedy, a town famous for its beautiful opals and known as the Underground Town. Catacomb Underground Church was carved in the shape of a cross, into a giant sandstone rock.
St. Kingaâ€™s Chapel
Located 101 meters underground, in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, St. Kingaâ€™s Chapel is considered the most impressive salt-carved sanctuary on Earth. Carved from a block of salt, by a group of self-taught miners, St. Kingaâ€™s Chapel has acted as a place of worship ever since 1896.
The salt decorations spread all over the chapel were created over a period of 100 years. Even today, the artworks are made by a new generation of talented miners. One of the most impressive things found in St. Kingaâ€™s Chapel are the chandeliers carved from blocks of salt.
One of Colombiaâ€™s most important pilgrimage sites, the cathedral of Zipaquira lies 200 meters underground, in an old salt mine. Zipaquira attracts around 3,000 Roman-Catholic followers every Sunday, but it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira began as a small praying sanctuary carved by the hard-working miners. It had three naves and a giant cross, but was shut down by authorities, for safety reasons. After a complete redesign, a larger, more beautiful Salt Cathedral was reopened in 1995 and began attracting an even larger number of tourists.
Church of Saint Jean
In southern France, close to the picturesque village of Aubeterre, lies one of religionâ€™s hidden gems, the underground Church of Saint Jean. The village itself is charming enough, traversed of cobbled alleys, full of friendly people and located in a verdant setting, but the true treasure of Aubeterre-sur-Dronne can be found beneath.
The centuries-old Church of Saint Jean was hand-carved out of a rock hanging above the river Dronne. This monolithic structure is 88 feet long, 52 feet wide and reaches 20 meters at its highest point. Saint Jean Church is available for tourist visits seven days a week.