Photo: The Church of Scientology
According to the official Scientology website, there are over 8,500 Scientology Churches, Missions and affiliated groups in 165 countries around the world.That’s a lot of space for a religion that was born out of a science fiction novel.
Even more impressive is that many of Scientology’s major real estate holdings were acquired in the past decade. From 2004 to 2011, Scientology claims to have doubled its portfolio with 23 new churches.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into buying up landmark businesses, renovating them and rebranding them as ornate Scientology centres — perhaps in an attempt to alter the religion’s reputation as a shadowy cult.
We put together a list of some of the movement’s choicest holdings, which span the globe and serve as public relations pitches for recruiting and training new members.
1424 16th Street Northwest in Washington, D.C.: The Founding Church of Scientology was revamped and reopened in October 2009. At 49,000 square feet, it's the church's largest presence in the nation's capital.
665 rue Saint-Joseph in Quebec City, Canada: The Church of Scientology of Quebec (also known as the Église de Scientologie de Québec) is housed in a 47,000 square foot state-of-the-art edifice. Opened in January 2010, the church has an information centre, chapel and cafe, among other amenities.
Boulevard de Waterloo 100-103 in Brussels, Belgium: In January 2010, an 88,000 square foot church opened as part of the Churches of Scientology for Europe. The church includes multimedia exhibits, auditoriums and a Documentation centre detailing the life of L. Ron Hubbard.
Source:Church of Scientology
Mexico City, Mexico: At 55,000 square feet, this is the largest Scientology building in all of Latin America. A five-story atrium, a chapel for hundreds and workspaces for community volunteers highlight Mexico's Ideal organisation. It was opened in July of 2010.
231 Mount Alexander Road in Melbourne, Australia: This is the first Ideal Scientology Church in all of Australia — which is surprising, since Hubbard always had a love for the continent. The site was once the estate of a football team owner, and later a college. It opened in January 2011.
Ybor Square in Tampa, Florida: The Church of Scientology of Tampa opened on L. Ron Hubbard's one hundredth birthday (March 13th, 2011). Located in a National Historic Landmark, the 88,000 square foot building houses an expansive information centre with over 500 documentary films on site.
505 Wabasha Street in St. Paul, Minnesota: The Church of Scientology Twin Cities became the largest Scientology building in the Midwest in October 2011. Originally a science museum, the three-story, 82,000 square foot facility houses dozens of classrooms, an IMAX theatre and two saunas.
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