Deep in the dense forests of Central Java, towering above the surrounding trees, lies an abandoned, crumbling church in the shape of a giant chicken with its beak open mid-squawk. Called Gereja Ayam ("Chicken Church") by locals, this bizarre building attracts hundreds of travelers and photographers to the hills of Magelang, Indonesia each year.
The story behind Gereja Ayam is almost as strange as the structure itself. In the late '80s, a man named Daniel Alamsjah claims he received a divine message from God telling him to build a prayer house in the shape of a dove. The 67-year-old chose a hill not far from Magelang, his wife's hometown, as the site of his ambitious project. Together with 30 locals, Alamsjah started construction on the impressive building in the '90s.
Despite his Christian faith, Alamsjah says that the prayer house was meant to welcome worshippers of all religions. Many Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists congregated under its rooftop, while the lower floors were used as rehabilitation facilities for drug addicts, children with disabilities, disturbed youths, and the mentally ill.
The church closed its doors in 2000 because construction costs were too high, but it continues to be an object of fascination to many visitors in the area.