Antarctica is unlike any continent – barren, desolate and deadly. For miles as far as the naked eye can see, there is nothing but snow. But, in spite of its inhospitable nature, researchers continue to visit and briefly live in Antarctica. It, therefore, becomes imperative to have some assistance on an unexpected terrain whip-lashed by a harsh climate. And, what better than invoking the Lord? Antarctica has a few churches – seven, to be precise – for the faithful. Here are the seven churches of the ‘white continent’.
1. Chapel of the Snows
This chapel is located on an American science station on Ross Island. The church was destroyed by fire twice despite being built in an isolated frozen region. The church also caters to people of different faiths and Father Michael Smith is known to have conducted Buddhist and Bahai ceremonies. The Ross Island station has around a thousand visitors in the summer.
Image courtesy: Jose Francisco Salgado
2. Trinity Chapel
Built in Russia in the 1990s from the wood of Siberian pine, this orthodox church was transported on a supply ship to the Russian (formerly Soviet) Antarctic station, Bellingshausen on King George Island. The monastery has rotated priests annually. The structure stands 15 meters tall and can accommodate up to 30 visitors. It caters to the personnel from the nearby Russian, Chilean, Polish and Korean Stations.
Image courtesy: Koolfingaz
3. The Ice Cave Catholic Chapel at Belgrano II Base
This ice-walled cave church is the southernmost place of worship of any religion in the world. This church caters to the Argentine base founded in 1955 on Coat’s Island. A Catholic church, , also boasts of a wonderful natural sight as the night sky often displays the Aurora Australis.
Image courtesy: Amado Becquer Casaballe
4. San Francisco de Asis Chapel
One of Argentina’s thirteen research bases in Antarctica, the Esperanza Base Station is considered by Argentines as its southernmost “city”. There is also a permanent school with teachers, a museum, a bar and a hospital with permanent birth facility where several Argentines have been born. What’s more, they have their own casino, too.
Image courtesy: Ivar Struthers
5. St. Ivan Rilski Chapel, Livingston Island
The church of the Bulgarian base St. Kliment Ohridski was founded in 1988 by a four-member Bulgarian team. The chapel bell was donated by the ex-Vice Premier of Bulgaria who worked as a doctor at the Bulgarian base in the 1993/94 season.
Image courtesy: BAB
6. Chilian Chapel of Santa Maria Reina de la Paz
The uniqueness of this church is that it is made entirely out of shipping containers. Located on the Chilean military base of King George’s Island, Villa las Estrellas is home to several personnel’s families with children who live there for up to two years at a time. The place is the biggest settlement in Antarctica and is served with a school, a hostel, a post office and a bank.
Image courtesy: Ultima Thule
7. Catholic Chapel of Santisima Virgen de Lujan at Marambio Base
The man in the picture is Father Nicholas Daniel Julian and he is standing before another Argentine church. (The Argentines are surely very religious!) Considered Argentina’s most important base in the continent, it was the first airfield in Antarctica and is still one of the most frequently used ones due to its suitability for wheeled landing.
Image courtesy: Marambio