Once again, thanks to our collaboration with Sketchfab, here we have a selection of 9 virtual experiences through churches and chapels from Europe, Africa and the Americas. Each small building has its own special story, either geographical, political or structural—from one building that has experienced its own mini tour of Europe, to another which contains some rather unusual building materials. The diverse sites each seem to hold secrets, all of which can now be explored through 3D scanning technology. The fascinating variation in structural forms is also apparent, showcasing how even humble architecture has the potential to create a rich list of virtual spaces.
For a more immersive experience, all of these models can be viewed on a virtual reality headset such as Google Cardboard.
San Crisogono Paleo-Christian Basilica (Rome, Italy)
Built in the 4th Century, San Crisogono is the oldest church on this list. However, it was rebuilt in the 12th Century by John of Crema, as well as in the 17th Century by Giovanni Battista Soria. In 1907, the so-called Paleo Christian Basilica was discovered beneath the San Crisogono, with artifacts dating back to around the 8th-11th centuries.
Carpathian Ruthenian Church of the Saint Michael Archangel (Prague, Czech Republic)
This church was relocated to Prague in 1929, but was originally built in the village of Velké Loučky (now a part of Ukraine) in the second half of the 17th Century. Its timber construction, numbered to keep track of the individual parts, made this deconstruction and reconstruction possible, and it had already been done once before; in 1793, Velké Loučky sold it to their wealthier neighbors in the town of Medvedovce. Although its current location is in Prague, this church holds the history of three towns and cities in its walls.
Beta Abba Libanos (Lalibela, Ethiopia)
Beta Abba Libanos can be found in one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, known for its monolithic churches and home to a population that almost exclusively consists of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Many of the churches found in the area are carved from a single piece of rock, excavated from the earth instead of built from it. In the late 12th Century and early 13th Century, Lalibela was ruled by Saint Gerber Mesquel Lalibela, who wanted to create a new Jerusalem in the town, after the old Jerusalem was captured by Arabs in 1187. Eleven of the churches are now recognized by UNESCO Wold Heritage.
Eidsborg Stavkyrkje (Tokke, Norway)
One of the best-preserved stave churches in Norway, Eidsborg Stavkyrkje is located by the Vest-Telemark museum in Eidsborg. The church is estimated to date back to around the years 1250 – 1300, but was partly reconstructed in the 1800s and restored in 1927 revealing Renaissance-era ornamentation and murals within the building.
Church of Saint Joseph (Pidhirtsi, Ukraine)
Dating back to 1766, the Church of Saint Joseph was originally a family tomb, and was converted into a temple in 1861. Between 1869 and 1939, the ownership of the building changed, and it was turned into a museum before its dome, one of its walls and multiple statues were destroyed during the Second World War. In 1997 the building was donated to the Lviv Art Gallery, and was restored.
Timişeni Church (now at) the National Village Museum (Bucharest, Romania)
Located in the Herastrau Park in Bucharest, the church is currently an open-air museum, a part of a much larger showcase of authentic Romanian peasant buildings scattered around an area of 100,000 square meters.
Milot Chapel, Sans-Soucis (Haiti)
“Without Worry,” as Sans-Soucis translates to, was completed in 1813 to house Haiti’s first monarch, Henri Christophe. Its ruins look over the Milot Chapel where Henri Christophe was crowned the king of northern Haiti in 1811. The palace was destroyed during an earthquake in 1842, but the chapel still stands as a memory. In 1982 Sans-Soucis became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Castello di Amorosa Chapel (Napa Valley, USA)
The Sonoma Chapel belongs to the Castello di Amorosa, a castle with 107 rooms, 8 levels and a winery, located near Calistoga, California. Up until May 2012, the winery held a weekly Catholic Mass in the tiny chapel, before it was ordered to cease by the local government. These restrictions also apply to weddings and receptions, but the castle can be rented out for corporate gatherings and fundraisers.
Byzantine Church (Agios Petros, Greece)
Travel 40 kilometers from Athens in the southeast direction, and you will arrive at this Byzantine Church. The style of the architecture and the type of stone used for the church both date back to the late 12th Century to early 13th Century. However, in this example of the period fragments of older buildings and even tombstones have been integrated into the construction.