A look at the Church of Scientology’s African HQ – a massive castle in Joburg

Business Tech, South Africa/July 7, 2019

The Church of Scientology recently revamped its Kyalami Castle property which it aims to use as its African headquarters.

Over 4,000 guests attended the reopening event in January – including the religion’s head David Miscavige, members of government, and senior officials in the South African Police Service.

The 87,000-square-foot castle sits on 22 acres of land and includes 12 crenellated turrets and eight-inch-thick walls. The revamped interior includes Italian marble floors mined from the same quarries used by Michelangelo, the church said.

Originally constructed in 1992 for a Greek architect and his family, the castle has gothic arched windows, more than a dozen outdoor terraces and wrought-iron chandeliers.

Other features include:

  • A classic Greek fountain;
  • Wrought-iron chandelier;
  • Coffered ceilings;
  • Crafted wood mouldings.

Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology is described as “a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the supreme being”.

Scientology comprises a body of knowledge which extends from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these are:

  • Man is an immortal spiritual being.
  • His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.
  • His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.

In 2001, the property was sold and converted into a luxury hotel. The stables, garage and workshop areas became a convention centre.

A sunken lounge was levelled and turned into the hotel’s restaurant, and a wine cellar was created.

Today the building is seen as a ‘spiritual retreat’ for Scientologists and includes an expansive state-of-the-art auditorium, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating for more than 200, a café, a swimming pool and a braai-equipped gazebo.

Property across South Africa 

While Kyalami Castle acts as the African headquarters for Scientology, the church has already acquired a number of properties across the country.

These include multiple properties in Gauteng in wealthy areas such as Bryanston, Linksfield, Norwood, and Central Pretoria. The church also has a presence in Cape Town and Durban.

According to the church, under Miscavige’s leadership, it has opened the doors of 70 new Churches of Scientology across six continents.

Recent openings have taken place in Salt Lake City, Silicon Valley, Perth, Orlando, Stuttgart, and Detroit.

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