Autobahn Chapels in Germany: A Divine Cure for Road Rage?
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 autobahnkirche.de, 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.
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. --chuck
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.
I don't like the service there and prefer Autobahn rest stops. You have ample opportunities to pray or swear while driving.
Just the place to trade in my guardian angel when they get tired from flying so fast...