It has occurred only twice in one hundred years, during the winter of 1911 and again during this winter. The first was in a non-violent protest of sorts; the second a celebration and commemoration of the first.
SchneeKirche, translated in English, Snow Church.
Its singular beauty might have gone unknown to us had Deede, a fellow ex-pat from Tennessee, not invited us for a road trip to Mitterfirmiansreut, Bavaria, a small alpine town that shares Germany's border with the Czech Republic. About two hours away, it was more than worth the drive and price of admission.
...if we could have only seen where we were going!
Visibility was about 25 meters.
We were told not to touch the ice sculptures and I thought, "WHAT ice sculptures?!" As our eyes adjusted to the thick fog, they seemed to appear when we were within touching distance.
Snow Church's welcoming committee, my favorite snow sculpture.
As our eyes carve through the fog, SchneeKirche comes into view.
In 1911 when the original SchneeKirche was constructed, villagers built it in protest because officials wouldn't build a church in their town; they were deemed too poor and rural. In order to worship, they had to travel a ways to a nearby town. During December of that year, Mitterfirmiansreut had heavy snowfall, preventing townspeople from traveling. They decided to take matters into their own hands, and constructed a church from the only materials available to them: snow and ice.
The winter of 2011/2012 marked SchneeKirche's 100th anniversary, so locals decided to construct a modern snow church in commemoration of their history. It opened in late December and they hope it remains intact through March.
l-r, LeAna, who works with Tad, me, Molly, a translator.
SchneeKirche was funded in part by local sponsors and cost about €70,000 to construct, so I'm not sure if this money is used for locals in need or somehow to maintain the structure.
Hot, mulled wine, the perfect companion to our chilly tour. Not only is this the first time I've tasted Glühwein, it's the first time I ever HEARD of it! Apparently it's very popular during the winter in Germany (Europe?), especially during their famed Christmas markets.
Because it got crowded by the time I thought to video the interior, this isn't the greatest quality, but at least you get a three-dimensional idea of SchneeKirche's interior--
Currently, there are no plans to construct a snow church in future years; which makes it even more special to have discovered it and had the chance to visit!