World's Most Remote Churches
Tucked away in some of the most remote parts of the world are both large and little churches. Some have been there a very long time. Others have sprung up to fill the religious needs of small rural communities. There is something very human and awe-inspiring in seeing a steeple rise on an otherwise stark and lonely landscape. Here are some of the world's most isolated churches.
The Church of Agia Triada -
Located on St. George's Island in the South Pole, the Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) is likely the most remote church in the world. This Russian Orthodox church sits in the farthest and most inhospitable reaches of Antarctica. Weather there is harsh to say the least with frequent heavy snowfalls and high winds. The Church of Agia Triada was built in 1990 in a Russian architectural style entirely of Siberian wood and special measures were taken to protect it from the extreme weather. It has seating for 30 people and so far two couples have been married there. The church's priest says its existence just proves that "God is everywhere."
Church of Our Lady Hozoviotissa -
Situated on the side of a cliff on the rugged Greek island of Amorgos in the Aegean Sea, this Byzantine monastery can most easily be reached by ferry. It is said it was built in the 9th century following the sinking of a ship off the coast of Amorgos that was carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary. It is one of the most important monuments of its time. Dating from the middle ages is a unique pathway leading from the small village of Aigiali to the monastery. It is a beautiful walk but will take 4 to 6 hours to get there. Once you do, the monks who live there may offer you some local liquor for your efforts.
St. Mary's Church -
This small Anglican church can be found on one of the most isolated inhabited archipelagos in the world. Tristan da Cunha is nearest to South Africa which is approximately 1750 miles away across the South Atlantic. Almost all the 264 people who live on this British territory are Anglican. The church also serves as a school and community theater. Modern technology keeps the citizens of Tristan connected with the outside world and the island is self-sufficient. They grow their own food and earn money from postage stamps, crawfish and handicrafts. St. Mary's Church is currently looking for a parish priest. The ad says the ability to play a musical instrument would be an asset. job
Skjeberg Lutheran Church -
Angle Inlet, Minnesota is about as remote as you can get in the United States. Due to 18th century ignorance of geography, the northwest angle of Minnesota was cut off from the U.S. territory. Angle Inlet is located on the Canadian border of the United States. It is the only point in the U.S. besides Alaska that is north of the 49th parallel. The area is unspoiled and considered a sportsman's paradise though access to Angle inlet is by a small gravel road from Canada or by boat or air. The town boasts one of the last one-room schoolhouses. Skjeberg Church is Lutheran but offers non-denominational services to the approximately 152 people who live there.
Church of Ittoqqortoormiit -
Ittoqqortoormiit is a settlement in eastern Greenland with a current population of 469 hardy souls. It was founded in 1925 as a result of Norway's growing interests in Northeast Greenland. It is one of the last hunters' societies in the world. The population of Ittoqqortoormiit is Lutheran. When colonists first settled there, they were insecure in their surroundings and very much wanted a priest there. Their call was answered by Sejer Abelsen, a West Greenlandic Catechist. The church was built in 1928 with funding from the Danish. It houses the priest and schoolroom. Ittoqqortoomiit can only be reached by helicopter.
Hanga Roa Church -
Easter Island is mostly known for its mysterious moai monoliths but it is also home to approximately 3300 people. The island is far out in the South Pacific and is accessible by air from Santiago, Chile. Also called Rapa Nui, Easter Island is among some of the most remote places in the world. The unique Roman Catholic Church in Hanga Roa where the majority of the population lives combines symbols of the Rapanui culture with traditional catholic elements. Services on Sunday are alive with Polynesian rhythms and chants in Rapa Nui. The church building itself boasts some remarkable syncretic carvings and artwork.
Tiger's Nest Monastery -
Tiger's Nest Monastery (also called Taktsang) is located on a high cliff in Bhutan and is thought to have introduced Buddhism to the country. It is said Guru Rinpoche flew here on the back of a tiger where he meditated for three months in a cave. Built in 1692, this holiest of sites in Bhutan is difficult to access and requires a steep and laborious climb up pathways and steps more than two thousand feet from the valley floor. The monastery very often isn't open to the public and entrance is usually reserved for practicing Buddhists seeking retreat though occasionally entrance tickets can be attained. Tiger's Nest is 10,200 feet above sea level.
St. Thomas' Parish Church -
At the northernmost point of Northern Ireland is the small island of Rathlin. It is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland and boasts a year round population of 100 people. During the summer months visitors brave the rough sea ferry ride to Rathin. St. Thomas' Parish Church stands on an elevated site with panoramic views. It is thought to have been built in 1812. It is a model of Anglican simplicity with a single bay design and castellated tower. The exterior is made of basalt and limestone. Rathlin is a favorite destination for birdwatchers where it is home to over thirty species of birds.
Church of Saint George -
The Church of Saint George is one of eleven rock-hewn monolithic churches near the village of Lalibela in a mountainous region of Ethiopia. Lalibela is a small town surrounded by a rocky dry area but is considered a holy place of Ethiopian Christianity. All eleven churches were each carved out of a single block of granite with the roof line at ground level. The churches were commissioned to be built in the 12th century by King Lalibela whose goal was to create a new Jerusalem for those who could not make it to the Holy Land. The churches were excavated rather than constructed. How it was done remains a mystery but local legend has it that angels took over when the workmen stopped. The village of Lalibela just recently got electricity and of the 8000 people who live there, 1000 are priests.
Svalbard Church -
Svalbard, Norway is considered the world's northernmost town. It was established by a coal mining company in 1906 though very little mining is done there now. Svalbard is an archipelago in the bay of Adventfjorden. The population of 2040 people is mostly young and male and is constantly changing likely due to the Arctic weather and relative isolation. Svalbard Church not only offers residents services but welcomes folks to its fireplace lounge where they can enjoy hot coffee, Norwegian waffles and the daily newspapers. The church is also active in organizing excursions and hosting lectures and concerts. There is no sun in Svalbard from October until February.
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Tiger's Nest monastery, Bhutan
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