United States Air Force Academy Chapel

I really like good architecture. My dad majored in architecture in college and now runs construction sites for a living, so maybe there's some genetic predisposition. I also give a lot of credit for my building appreciation to my Architecture in London class from my study abroad days. We went on site visits around the city every other week, and I did a whole paper on brutalism (spoiler alert: it's hideously ugly), and wrote another paper on the National History Museum. You want to talk about a perfect building? That is it. There shouldn't even be any exhibits in it. I happily spent half of my time there ogling the carvings in the walls, the beautiful arches and the intricate patter of stairways. I was just totally in awe.

I hadn't felt that way about a building since, until (FINALLY) getting to visit the chapel at the United States Air Force Academy.

There had been two prior attempts to make this visit: first, on my very first day in Colorado Springs, when my mom and I popped over to USAFA on a spur-of-the-moment visit, and the chapel was closed. And two, when I visited with Christina, and we went too late in the day, so the chapel was closed again. But with my parents in town for a week, I was determined to the point of tunnel vision to make it happen. We had tickets to the Air Force vs. Boise State game last Saturday, so we were already going to be on campus and everything. The chapel was priority #1.

If you're wondering about my fixation on getting into the chapel... it had nothing to do with religion. I'm a borderline-atheist Jew (who just so happens to be fasting for Yom Kippur as we speak. So. hungry). After visiting so many churches in Europe, I was kind of over the religion overdose, even though churches are usually incredibly beautiful. But like I said, I really like cool buildings!

You know the inside of something that looks like this has to be pretty cool, right? But I was so not expecting what I got.

IT'S SO PRETTY! Cool architecture and glowing rainbow colors?! Yes please!

The places of worship of four religions are housed in this one building. This is the Protestant chapel, so we then headed downstairs to check out the synagogue.

And then we made a stop into the Catholic chapel. (Is that the correct terminology? Sorry, religion is not my forte.)

Unfortunately, the Buddhist temple was closed, as there were services going on.

I'm pretty obsessed with this place. Whenever I've visited churches, my enjoyment is always slightly dampened by the feeling that I'm getting the saints shoved down my throat. And hey, I get it -- churches are places specifically for religion! It's my own fault for walking in! It's just unfortunate, in my mind, that I can look at a beautiful stained glass window and not understand what's going on in the scene depicted in it. I'm also generally not a fan of that early style of art in general. So I absolutely love that this building is artistically very plain. Its beauty is in its simplicity, and it feels like a place where you could just go and sit and think (or pray, if that's your thing).

Also? It's impossible to take a bad picture of a place like this.

It was totally worth the 16-month wait!

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  1. Your pix are stunning, and I agree, it was totally worth the 16-month wait!

    1. Thanks! I still don't think they do the chapel justice though!!

  2. Definitely worth the wait ... I'd love to go back and experience the splendor of all three chapels again :) (there's not much to see in the Buddhist chapel, was a pretty dark room is all I could see with the very minimal lighting I think was candles).

    1. Well then I'm glad I didn't miss too much! And yes, you should definitely come back! ;)