Though Thorncrown Chapel is not a grand piece of architecture, it is captivating. The repetition of the lines is a lovely contrast to the open space of the windows. The glass reflects the surrounding landscape, beautifully merging nature and architecture. Stepping inside, it is a perfect spot to pause for a moment to take in the soaring height of the ceiling and to look out at the surrounding woodlands. The chapel has a minimal interior, with low benches and nothing to distract from the views. There isn't much else to see on-site, other than the chapel. And if it is closed for a private event, as it often is, you will only be able to enjoy the exterior.
“a breathtaking woodland sanctuary”
Nestled in a woodland setting, Thorncrown Chapel rises forty-eight feet into the Ozark sky. This magnificent wooden structure contains 425 windows and over 6,000 square feet of glass. It sits atop over 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone, making it blend perfectly with its setting. The chapel's simple design and majestic beauty combine to make it what critics have called "one of the finest religious spaces of modern times." Thorncrown was the dream of Jim Reed, a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In 1971 Jim purchased the land which is now the site of the chapel to build his retirement home. However, other people admired his location and would often stop at his property to gain a better view of the beautiful Ozark hills. Instead of fencing them out, Jim decided to invite them in. One day while walking up the hill to his house, the idea came to him that he and his wife should build a glass chapel in the woods to give wayfarers a place to relax in an inspiring way. Shortly thereafter Jim met E. Fay Jones, a professor at the university of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Much to Jim's surprise, Jones was quick to accept the proposal to design the chapel. On March 23, 1979 the construction crew broke ground on the mountain side. Jim's dream looked like it would soon be a reality. However, half way through the project, funds began to run out. Soon the building process ground to a halt. In his own words, it looked like Jim had made "...the biggest mistake of my life." He desperately tried to raise the necessary funds to complete his dream, but all of his efforts failed. Finally, one evening Jim took what he thought would be one last walk down to his half-finished chapel. He would take one last look and never return. Then the unexpected happened He said, "I am not proud of the fact, but the first time I ever got down on my knees was on the chapel floor. I prayed more seriously than ever before. All the trials and tribulations gave me the humility to get on my knees." This was a turning point in Jim's life and in the construction of the chapel. In a few short days all the money Jim needed was made available. On July 10, 1980 Thorncrown Chapel opened. Since then over six million people have visited this little chapel on the hillside. Thorncrown has won numerous architectural awards. It has been featured on television programs such as NBC Nightly News and the 700 Club. Almost every major magazine in the country has carried a story about the chapel including Time, Newsweek, and Parade. Thorncrown Chapel is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. It is located on Highway 62 West three miles outside of Eureka Springs. There is no admission fee, but donations are accepted. Every tour group will receive a presentation telling the story of the chapel followed by an inspirational song by one of the Thorncrown musicians. There is ample parking for buses and RVs. So, while in the Ozarks, stop by what many have called one of the most beautiful and inspiring chapels in the world. It will be a visit you will not soon forget.
Do NOT miss this! Even an atheist would have to leave feeling peaceful and touched! definitely go during one of the services, it is memorable. The same lady has been singing there for years and she starts in the back of the room acapella and you think it must be recorded because it sounds so angelic but as she walks to the front you will discover it is her! It blows my mind how clear the glass is it is just like sitting in the forest but with air conditioning. so so stunning!
This was worth going out of our way to see! It is beautiful!
Honestly underwhelming. The structure outside is gorgeous but you aren’t allow to explore around the building at all. The decor in the interior is outdated and garish and completely takes away from the view and the architecture. They also play really cheesy pops classical music, which was really terrible. It was advertised that we would be sitting in silence, even on the paper we were given at the door, and it was anything but. We wondered when Kenny G. would start playing on the radio.
Acoustics in the building are dimmed by the gaudy fabric used for the pews which is very unfortunate.
Could be gorgeous.
Beautiful and peaceful. It is a unique building and worth a visit if you are in the area. The walk up to the chapel is just as wonderful and the chapel itself. You walk on a paved path up to the church. It is shaded by many large trees and in the hot summer the shade feels refreshing. It's free to visit. You can also make a donation if you wish.
Absolutely beautiful. We went to a Sunday morning service. Tourist are welcomed, as it is basically a tourist church without a regular congregation.
My wife and I visited the chapel in June 2014. It is a very beautiful and inspiring place!
Beautiful and serene.
We happened to be there around 11:30 on a Sunday on our way out of town - so we couldn’t go in they were having service. TIME YOUR VISIT RIGHT. But it was still stunning!
Loved this! I wish I could have been there on a Sunday to attend a service there. Very peaceful.
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- Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Good for adventurers, backpackers, and cultural-travelers. Has a romantic vibe.
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