Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Last week, i was in Germany attending an Architectural Conference. I was staying in a hotel in Dusseldorf and visited Cologne one of the days. The towering Cathedral of Cologne is simply awsome. No building is allowed to compete with the Cathedral and so it dominates the entire skyline of the city. The trip was very fruitful as regards the architectural exposure i had over there but my heart was saddened by the low attendance of churches which were humongous but only a few very old folk occupied the pews!

In Europe, some church  buildings are demolished, while others find new life as mosques, stores and even recreation centres!

I've read that some 4,400 church buildings remain in the Netherlands. But each week, around two close their doors forever. This mainly affects the Catholics, who they say will be forced to offload half of their churches in the coming years. One day it is a church building and on another, the church becomes real estate and the altar where believers had been blessed, married and mourned becomes a hunk of cement!
Some churches are converted into community centres whilst others are demolished to make space for apartment blocks apartments in its place.
For years the number of faithful has been declining. The trend has swept across all of Western Europe, with churches forced to close in France and Belgium too. But in the Netherlands, Christianity's retreat from society has been particularly drastic.

The trend has led to the mergers of churches from several communities. But none of these amalgamations need more than one church, one organ, and one altar crucifix. All the other chalices, crosses and pews need to be disposed of.

There is an instance when even a supermarket has moved into a defunct church. A bookstore has opened in a former Dominican church in Maastricht, while in Utrecht and Amsterdam churches have been turned into mosques! When a church has little purpose, emotional value or historical significance selling for conversion is seen to be the best solution!

St. Joseph's church in Arnhem opened a skate park, with ramps and obstacles in the nave, charging €3.50 to spend a day skating between holy figures!


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