From an underground salt mine in Colombia to the bustling streets of Spain, Musement looks at 10 of the most impressive churches around the world.
Often viewed as a place of worship, churches have also become a popular place of interest for tourists. These massive buildings with tiny intricate details on display make you wonder how it was all possible with the lack of technology back then.
There are some of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. However, in this article, we will focus more globally and take a look at 10 of the most impressive churches around the world. Buckle up!
1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, United States
Surrounded by towering skyscrapers, St. Patrick’s Cathedral still finds a way to stand out in New York City. The Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral was completed in 1878 and is the biggest of its kind in America. Its prime location in Manhattan makes it a popular landmark to attend mass or just for a visit. St. Patrick’s was constructed to symbolize the rise of the country’s religious freedom and tolerance. Along with its gigantic bronze doors, two 330-foot spires welcome visitors inside the impressive church. Inside, visitors can expect to find a gorgeous front altar, beautiful stained-glass windows, and marvelous artwork including a rendition of Michelangelo’s Pieta.
2. St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev, Ukraine
Decorated with white walls and topped with green and gold cupolas, St. Sophia Cathedral draws the attention of everybody visiting Kiev. One of the city’s most iconic landmarks, the 11th century Byzantine-style cathedral was originally built to house the tombs of Kievan rulers. The church was named after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and symbolizes the widespread of Orthodox faith throughout Russia, or “the new Constantinople.” Listed as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, step inside to see the world‘s largest collection of 11th-century mosaics and frescoes.
3. Cathedral of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil
They say not to judge a book by its cover so don’t let the outside of this unique cathedral fool you. The 16 pillars that form the structure of the Cathedral of Brasilia resemble two hands reaching to the heavens. Led by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer, this exotic modern-style cathedral in the capital of Brazil was constructed in 1970. Blue, green, and white stained-glass panes make up the cathedral’s ceiling which is worth admiring when the sun rays beam in. Four statues, representing Matthew, Luke, John, and Mark, invite visitors inside the exotic cathedral. Not your typical gothic cathedral, yet still magnificent.
4. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Situated in the heart of London, St Paul’s Cathedral combines some Gothic, neoclassical, and Baroque elements to its exterior design. On the interior, it has some hints of 19th-century Victorian style, paintings, tombs, and a beautiful altar and apse. Modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, St. Paul’s has a massive dome that reaches a height of 335 feet, making it hard to miss. The cathedral, built by the famous English architect Christopher Wren, has been a staple to the city skyline ever since its construction in the late 17th century.
5. Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, Canada
Best known for the astonishing Gothic Revival architecture on its interior, Notre Dame Basilica is a must-visit. Built in the 1820s, the cathedral features two rising towers, similar to the ones of Notre Dame in Paris. Unlike other cathedrals that depict the Bible on its walls, Notre Dame Basilica has paintings that tell the religious history of Montreal. The intricate wood carvings and color scheme are a true spectacle as well as an 1891 Casavant pipe organ inside the church is worth seeing. Take a tour of the old town and stick around for the light and sound show the church puts on.
6. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Once the largest cathedral in the world, Hagia Sophia underwent numerous changes during its existence before turning into a museum in 1935. Originally built in 537 AD as a Greek Orthodox cathedral, Hagia Sophia turned into a mosque in the 15th century when it was conquered by the Ottomans. This fascinating religious building will offer you quite a unique experience. Besides its massive dome, the former cathedral features a blend of Islamic and Christian architecture to be admired on your visit.
7. Cathedral of Seville, Seville, Spain
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the Cathedral of Seville is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. This gigantic cathedral was built on the grounds of the great 12th century Almohad mosque, in fact, some of those features are still present today. One of them being The Giralda, a 344-foot bell tower. Completed in the early 16th century, the Cathedral of Seville was built to demonstrate the city’s wealth and power, and it falls nothing short of that. There are a total of 80 chapels that grace the cathedral halls.
8. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Zipaquirá, Colombia
This Roman Catholic church can be found 660 feet underground within the tunnels of a former salt mine. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is divided into three levels, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. This architectural masterpiece draws enormous crowds, especially during Easter as it’s also a pilgrimage site. Within the confines of this underground treasure, you will come across different sculptures made from halite rock and marble. Be sure to check out the engraving on one of the walls of a grotto that emanates a blue cross. A spiritual experience like no other.
9. Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vietnam’s most impressive cathedral was consecrated in 1880 and can be found in Ho Chi Minh City. A country that is largely Buddhist, Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon is one of the last Catholic churches remaining. Another cathedral on the list modeled after the the Notre Dame in Paris, this version was built after the French conquered Saigon and Cochinchina. It is said that the Virgin Mary statue shed tears back in 2015, maybe she will do the same on your visit!
10. St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, Czech Republic
With its 335-foot high spire, this Gothic cathedral fits right into the gothic city that surrounds it. Visible from any point in the city, the St. Vitus Cathedral towers over the Prague Castle, one of the most beautiful castles in all of Europe. Built in 1344 by Charles IV, the cathedral flashes its gothic vibes with its Medieval look on the outside and glass paintings and altars on the inside. It also houses the tombs of numerous Holy Roman Emperors and Bohemian kings. A must-see when visiting the Czech Republic.