The idea for the Chicken Church, also known as Gereja Ayam, first came to Daniel Alamsjah in 1988, when he had a vision following his evening prayers. In the vision, he saw a snow-white dove resting atop a hill, and a disembodied voice instructed him to build a house of worship for all people.

Alamsjah didn’t pay much attention to the dream, until he went on a work-related trip to the Javanese city of Magelang. There, he visited Bukit Rhema (Rhema Hill) to watch the sunrise. When he saw Bukit Rhema, he believed it was the hill from his vision and started making plans to turn his dream into a reality. He bought the land for Rp. 3,500,000 (or about $2,000 at the time) two weeks later.

Construction began in 1992, but halted in 2000 due to a lack of funds. The structure was abandoned for nearly 15 years. Rumors of cults, ghosts, and demons spread. Graffiti and natural overgrowth began to take over the building.

But in 2015, the existence of Gereja Ayam spread across the internet, transforming it into a popular tourist attraction. In the video above, Atlas Obscura delves into the full story behind the Chicken Church. For more about Daniel Alamsjah and his journey to build this bird-shaped behemoth, read our recent feature by Theodora Sarah Abigail.

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