Nestled in Romania’s Fagaras Mountains is an old church that stands at six meters tall, 14 meters long, and seven meters wide. But there’s one particular characteristic about the house of worship that sets it aside from others around the world: It’s made entirely of ice.
The Ice Church – which is a replica of an old church in Transylvania – was built in 15 days from chunks of ice that were chain sawed off from Balea Lake, around 200 miles northwest of Bucharest. The pieces were blessed by priests and then cemented together with snow and water to construct the establishment, which is only reachable by cable car at an altitude of 2,000 meters.
For the past several years, a similar structure has been built in the area, which has hosted numerous baptisms and wedding blessings. The church includes a depiction of the Last Supper carved from ice, along with a traditional cross on its roof.
The Hotel of Ice revealed on its website that the church, which is located on its premises, was born out of the concept of “religious tourism”; the establishment has become a popular tourist attraction for travelers around the world of different religious orientations.
Earlier this week more than a dozen worshippers attended an inaugural service at the Ice Church held by Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clerics.
“(We are) submerged in water now, surrounded by water. Let this be a place for us to pray, let this be a place where people come with pleasure,” said Michael Regen, a priest from the Evangelical Church.
Over the years, disagreements surrounding church ownership have caused tension among the different Christian churches in Romania. In 1945, authorities belonging to the communist party seized churches nationwide, which were then given to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Seemingly, some have not yet been returned to other denominations.
However, Eastern Rite Catholic priest Ioan Crisan believes the Ice Church is a place to set aside religious differences for the common good.
“For a few moments, people forget what they left down in the valley: the fights, the misunderstandings, the contradictory arguments,” he said.