Leaders in the village of Mitterfirmiansreut near the German-Czech border originally wanted to open their “Snow Church” in mid December. But an unusual lack of the white stuff this winter meant that they only began building it a few weeks ago and won’t be able to open it until Wednesday.
“People are on the worksite through the day and night,” said Julia Herzig, spokeswoman for the church, which will be able to seat 200 parishioners and has a 17-metre tall tower made out of packed snow and ice.
The church is likely to attract curious tourists from throughout Germany before it melts in spring.
But project leaders said the point was to commemorate a protest by villagers sa century ago.
Back then local people were upset that they had to make an arduous 90-minute hike to the town of Mauth in order to go to church – and the regional Catholic authorities refused to build them one of their own.
So, over the Christmas season the villagers built a church entirely out of snow and ice as a protest.
The modern version of the Snow Church has run into a few challenges. Catholic leaders have expressed scepticism and the local Bishop has refused to officially consecrate the structure.
It remains unclear whether the project will make money. It’s being bankrolled by local people excited about the idea, but costs have already reached six figures.
“We are still looking for sponsors,” Herzig said.