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Grecia, Costa Rica

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes

This Costa Rican chapel is the most metal church in the world, literally. 

Most any resident of Grecia would point to the church as its most notable structure, but the Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes church in Grecia is extra-special in that it is made entirely from sheet metal. 

The bright red house of worship was built in the late 19th century out of plates of imported Belgian steel. The separate plates have been plainly riveted together and the whole building painted red.  Given the odd make-up of the building, a number of legends regarding the reasons behind the church’s construction have appeared over the years. One zany theory is that the church, having been imported from Europe, was meant for Greece, but got sent to the slightly similar sounding town of Grecia. Another story says that it was meant for Chile but, due to bureaucratic quicksand, the building simply settled in Grecia. However, the truth behind the building would seem to be the one answer no one wants to believe: that the church was simply purchased by the local government and a group of investors.

More specifically, the decision to purchase the church in all pre-fab metal seems to have been the work of a wealthy coffee exporter, although his reasons are unclear. Most churches are a magnet for believers but the Iglesia de la Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes may want to avoid magnets altogether.