Kiel Cathedral

A beautiful build and tribute to a lost friend

Usually, when we write about the incredible builds that Minecraft players create, the stories are about people finding a community in the game, exploring their creativity, and entering competitions to show off what they’ve learned. All great motivators to build in Minecraft! But today’s story is a little different.

Like many other builds, the beautiful Kiel Cathedral was made for a Minecraft competition, at least at first. The task was to build something inspired by Kiel. Kiel is a city founded by Vikings right at the tip of Germany, next to Denmark, and looks out across the stunning blue water of the Kiel fjord.

Kiel doesn’t actually have a cathedral, but Kim – today’s builder – was inspired by the centuries-old Gothic architecture of the city, the grandeur of the buildings, and her own desire to “build big”. So, Kim started building a cathedral that reached up to the sky. A most monumental task!

“I quickly realised that if I wanted to stand out, I would have to approach it differently to the other builders,” Kim explains. Each of the competitors were given small areas to build on, and this gave Kim a great idea: what if she only built part of the cathedral?

Kim’s build was, in some ways, incomplete. It was only a quarter of the grand cathedral she was picturing, but that’s what made it so unique. It suggested a sense of scale that’s otherwise hard to do in small builds, and lets the viewer imagine what’s missing. The cathedral ended in a cutaway, meaning that you can see the inside without actually going through the door, kind of like a doll’s house.

But as Kim neared the end of the competition, life got in the way. Kim’s username on Planet Minecraft is kimandjax. But Jax isn’t the name of her co-builder. Jax was the name of her 15-year-old cat, who sadly passed away during the making of the build. “The vet gently told me that she has had the best life any cat could have asked for,” said Kim.

Kim finished the competition, but it wasn’t easy. “It was genuinely difficult to see the beauty of my creation through the pain of grief,” she says. After the competition finished, and Kim received commendations for her build, she found herself not wanting to look at it. To her, it was “not just a Minecraft build any more.”

But one of the staff sent her the schematic from the competition, so she could work on it in her own time, and a year later, she was finally ready. Going back to the quarter-cathedral, she added the other three quarters, creating a towering building with tons of bright-white quartz to make it look “pristine” like old city buildings do.

She added trees where the altar would normally go. “Trees are strong,” she says. “They are resilient and they are life-giving. Bending, but never yielding to time and adversity.”

She added huge stained glass windows, which cast golden light across the pews. “When the sun dips,” Kim says, “you’re left focusing on this living, breathing presence… you forget you’re looking at 1x1 cubes.”

When Kim thinks back to the last days of the competition, without her best friend and companion, Jax, she’s honest: “it absolutely sucked.” But now, with the cathedral finished, she’s proud of what she was able to achieve. “I always put endless time, care and love into my builds, but this one really is an exception,” she says. “To me, this is a tribute to Jax – she is alive and well here, and will forever be.”

Written By
Kate Gray