By on May 12, 2009

In California, weary road warriors who need a place to temporarily rest have few options if they’re traveling outside the reaches of its sprawling cities. The drive between the capital and L.A. is especially dreary: miles and miles of industrial farms, oleander and eucalyptus trees. Worse, rest stops are barely-maintained, glorified pit toilets. You’ll never forget the stench of an I-5 rest stop toilet hut.

In Germany, autobahn drivers have the option of stopping at one of thirty-three roadside chapels. More than one million visitors stop every year. Most of the chapels are Protestant but welcome visitors of all faiths, and they provide a place of solace to weary travelers. “Drivers who stop at an autobahn church tend to continue their journey in a more relaxed manner and are more considerate to other road-users which goes to show that a visit contributes to road safety,” the custodians of one church write on the website, which is maintained by the Bruderhilfe pastoral organisation in Kassel.

According to Deutsche Welle, “[e]xperts from the Catholic University of Applied Sciences in Freiberg found in a survey that a typical visitor to an autobahn chapel is at least 50 years old, with male churchgoers outnumbering female. A study of 400 questionnaires also revealed that two-thirds of visitors come in from the road not just to rest but to pray, light a candle or take part in a religious service. The majority of visitors were Catholics.”

Though I’m a “fallen” Catholic, I’d prefer the smell of a house of God over the stench of a California rest stop any day.

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6 Comments on “Autobahn Chapels in Germany: A Divine Cure for Road Rage?...”

  • avatar
    John Horner


  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    My old-world parents made us all stop at the church and pray before we set out on our vacation drives. It sure didn’t do a whole lot to alleviate the stress of six of us cramming into a small ’62 Fairlane, especially with my father’s driving. But we are still alive.

  • avatar

    Private enterprise has picked up where the failure of the state has made maintenance of facilities too expensive. To wit: The fast food box cluster at every cloverleaf on I-5 has replaced the “rest area” for all input-output bodily functions. California I-5 rest areas tend to only get used for naps and dog walks from my observation. I imagine Oregon & Washington will be the same within 5 years.


  • avatar

    Forget about rest stops or churches, just give me Autobahn road manners, pavement quality, and speed limits (or lack thereof), and I’ll pee in a cup if I have to.

  • avatar

    I don’t like the service there and prefer Autobahn rest stops.
    You have ample opportunities to pray or swear while driving.

  • avatar

    Just the place to trade in my guardian angel when they get tired from flying so fast…

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