The Ice Kingdom

Most churches in Europe are built for the ages. But not the new house of God erected in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. In fact, it'll probably melt away before May.

Ancient cathedrals are often rather chilly. But a new church built in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania promises to be downright frigid. The second ice church in the world, after a Swedish one, has received its blessing at Bâlea Lac. It was constructed entirely out of blocks of ice and measures 60 square meters. The church, located 2,000 meters up in the Făgăraş Mountains - southern Transylvania, is the brainchild of Arnold Klingeis, who is trying to attract tourists to the mountain cabin he helps operate on Lake Bâlea.

The church took 30 workers three weeks to build using ice taken from the frozen-over Lake Bâlea. Klingeis is hoping to keep it open until at least April. He is planning an exhibition of ice sculptures as well, which is scheduled to be finished by the beginning of February. The new church includes an altar made entirely from ice as well as relief carvings into the walls. The pews too offer but cold comfort to the faithful. But that hasn't stopped a number of faithful from inquiring about holding baptisms or weddings in the frigid house of God. The Ice Church has proved so popular it's had to ban candles to stop it from melting.

And it's not the only ice structure that Klingeis has created. Tourists might choose to stay in the 12-room ice hotel next door (with a bar, a club and a restaurant, room service available). "It's cold, but one can survive it. It's more intended as an experience". Klingeis, a Romanian-born German, said that, when it is minus 20 degrees Celsius outside, the only slightly below freezing temperatures in the hotel feel almost cozy. "The idea is to promote tourism to the Carpathians and attract attention to the region. It's a marketing project and it has been very successful".