UNUSUAL PLACES: The abandoned Chicken Church of Java

You don’t usually put the words chicken and church in the same sentence.

But when you do you can be guaranteed it’s going to get weird.

On the Indonesian island of Java there is an abandoned structure that resembles a chicken. Locals call it Gereja Ayam.

Chicken church
© @unchartered_ireland Instagram

The name translates to ‘Chicken Church’. Although the building was never supposed to look like a chicken.

In 1988 Daniel Alamsjah received a message in the form of divine intervention. His vision told him to build a prayer house for all religions.

In his vision he saw a building shaped like a giant dove sitting a top a mountain.

Some time later Alamsjah was walking in the Magelang jungle. He recognised Bukit Rhema as the hill from his vision.

Within a week, Alamsjah had bought an acre of land on top and begun the necessary steps for seeking permission to build.

Since he didn’t have a lot of money Alamsah negotiated with local farmers to buy the land for 2 million Indonesia Rupiah (AU$180), which he paid in installments over four years.

For nearly a decade, Alamsjah – who worked full-time as a project manager – spent every weekend overseeing the construction of his dove-shaped prayer house. 

Only once the main structure was complete it looked more like a farm chicken the a graceful dove.

The result was less than im-peck-able.

By this point Alamsjah had ran out of money and patience. He abandoned his unfinished creation in the jungle.

A turn around

Over the next 15 years, visitors to the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur heard of a unique architectural wonder just a few miles away.

The Chicken Church quickly made a name for itself and curious travellers began to seek out the graffitied structure.

Ironically its abandonment skyrocketed the success of the Chicken Church and visitors flocked to the strange site.

© @faajarkp and @yerobim Instagram

Nowadays jewelled tiles and cloud painted ceilings decorate Gereja Ayam. Scenes from Indonesian Mythology fill the pen walls and twelve prayer rooms exist within the structure.

Early birds can watch the sunrise from the crown of the chicken which acts a look out.

At the back end of the bird there’s even a cafe. We recommend the eggs.

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