Cry, pray, smile, meet and wonder in silence
A silent space at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol? It might surprise you, but it does actually exist. Our brand-new Meditation Centre (Stiltecentrum in Dutch) was officially opened today. Here, we welcome travellers who wish to pray, meditate or who simply are in need of a bit of silence. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists: all religions and convictions are welcome. We receive over 60,000 visitors every year, a figure which would make many Dutch churches quite jealous.
The new Meditation Centre
The Meditation Centre has been moved to a new location on the second floor of Lounge 2, at the start of Pier E. Architect Gerard van der Veer has designed a wonderful space. A glass wall with symbols of all major world religions and broad white columns create a tranquil and spiritual atmosphere. As soon as you enter, all sounds seem to fade away. And it is precisely this silence which connects the visitors. Apart from the glass wall and qiblah to show Muslims which direction to face when praying, there are no specific religious symbols. The most striking feature? The Meditation Centre is an open space where all religions and convictions are welcome. However, non-believers can also drop in to experience a few quiet moments or practise yoga in peace.
A listening ear
This is a unique part of Schiphol, as no other airport in the world offers a silent space behind security to which men and women of all ages, whether passengers or staff, can turn with their own personal story. People who are flying are in great need of spiritual support. Schiphol has therefore had its own Airport Chaplaincy since 1975. There are currently three airport chaplains: Mark Hafkenscheid, Gerard Timmermans and Marieke Meiring. Although they all have different religious backgrounds, they all do the same work at Schiphol. Every day, they offer a listening ear and support to people who are in search of security and contemplation. The pastors are helped by 25 volunteers.
A quiet and peaceful welcome
At 11 am every Sunday, there is a service which everyone is welcome to attend. There are also church services to mark special occasions, such as Easter and Christmas. Feel free to drop in, as the door is always open. The airport chaplains are there to offer help, for example to people who have lost a loved one, are afraid of flying or are simply experiencing a hard time for one reason or another. It makes no difference whether you believe in a god or not, or whether your god is called Jaweh, Allah or Vishnu. You are welcome to come and enjoy the silence in the Meditation Centre. And don't forget to write something in our guest book when you drop in. It's full of wonderful words of gratitude, such as: ‘Thanks a lot. The place is so peaceful and offers everyone a chance to reflect or offer their prayers. Kudos Schiphol!’