A cathedral is a place for one to pray and reflect, so why not do that in the most down-to-earth setting, as in the midst of nature? This is what artist Giuliano Mauri envisioned when he set out to build Cattedrale Vegetale (Tree Catheral) in Bergamo, Italy. Today this structure, located at the base of Mount Arera, is arguably the most impressive piece of “natural architecture” on Earth.

Words Alia fawaz

Trees are continuously killed in order to construct things, including homes, but this cathedral is made of living, breathing trees that continue to thrive.
It’s a structure that does not take away from the natural landscape or compete with it, but instead blends in and becomes part of it.
To realize his vision, Mauri and his team combined trees and branches to make 42 different columns that formed five aisles.
The columns incorporate 1,800 spruce trunks and 600 chestnut tree branches woven together with over 6000 meters of hazelnut twigs.
Nails, string and local traditional methods of intertwining and weaving were used in order to secure the columns around the trees.
The cathedral covers 650 square meters and took months to construct.
Since these man-made columns will eventually decay and collapse, Mauri planted hornbeam trees, so that years later, the trees will eventually outgrow the structure.
This will create completely natural walls and roofs to be a truly organic and a very much “alive” cathedral.
These trees will also eventually morph into canopies that will form the spectacular vaulted ceiling of a Gothic style cathedral.
The framework of Cattedrale Vegetale was completed in 2010 (a year after Mauri passed away), but the actual planning and foundations began back in 2001.
This aweinspiring site stands in tribute to Mauri’s incredible work and a living proof that nature can be integrated intelligently into more facets of our lives.


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