Here, we present to you a list of the 10 most beautiful churches of the world. These churches are some of the best examples of architectural excellence and despite your religious beliefs, you will definitely appreciate these beautiful masterpieces of art. Some of these churches are centuries old and have ancient architecture, while some are embellished with modern art.
The traditional churches are usually in the shape of a cross with a dome, while the structure of the modern ones varies over a wide range of architectural designs.
However, whether traditional or modern, all the churches on this list are definitely worth visiting. So, read on to get a glimpse of these sacred marvels.
1. THE SAGRADA FAMILIA, BARCELONA, SPAIN
The Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church located in Barcelona, Spain. It is a large church and was designed by a Catalan architect named Antoni Gaudi. This church is one of the most beautiful churches that you will see in your lifetime. The construction of the church began in 1882 and it is still incomplete. However, the church is still a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the church is a combination of Gothic and curvilinear styles. It has a number of structural columns and arches. In November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed it as a minor basilica. The spires of the church are yet to be completed, after which, Sagrada Familia will become the tallest church in the world as well as the church with the tallest spires.
2. ST. BASIL’S CATHEDRAL, MOSCOW, RUSSIA
The St. Basil’s Cathedral is the popular name for the ‘Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat’. This one is a Russian orthodox church located at the Red Square in Moscow, Russia. The church was constructed during the period 1555-1591 under Ivan, the Terrible as a symbol of his capture of Kazan and Astrakhan and is the geometric centre of Moscow. This church has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. The design of the church is what makes it so unique. It is shaped like flames of bonfire rising into the sky and this particular design has no analogues in Russian architecture. It is often referred to as Kremlin due to its being located in the Red Square, which is quite close to Kremlin.
3. NOTRE DAM DE PARIS, PARIS, FRANCE
This beautiful Gothic, Roman Catholic Cathedral is located in Paris, France. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of French Gothic architecture. The cathedral is also particularly important as it holds the official chair of the Archbishop of Paris. What adds to its grandeur, are the beautiful sculptures and stained glass which are in contrast with the earlier Romanesque architecture. This cathedral is among the first few to have employed the arched exterior supports (flying buttress). The cathedral has enticing spire and towers as well and it was completed by 1345.
4. ST. PETER’S BASILICA
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter, popularly known as St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the beautiful vicinity of the Vatican City, Italy. The church was built during the late Renaissance. It is considered to be one of the most sacred places of Christian pilgrimage and has a very special place in the Roman Catholic tradition. Another distinguishing feature about the church is that it has the largest interior among all Christian churches of the world. The basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one among the 12 apostles of Christ and also the first Bishop of Rome. It was constructed during the period 1506-1615. Michelangelo designed the dome of the church, and it is the tallest dome in the world.
5. HAGIA SOPHIA, ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul, Turkey. Initially, Hagia Sophia was a Greek Orthodox patriarchal church, then it was converted into an imperial mosque, and now it is a museum. It is an awe-striking example of Byzantine architecture. It has a massive dome and was the largest cathedral in the world for almost 1000 years, until the completion of Seville Cathedral. It has a beautiful interior and the central dome is supported by 40 arched windows.
The Hallgrimskirkja is located in Reykjavik, Iceland. It is a Lutheran parish church. It is the largest church in Iceland and not just that, it is also the sixth tallest architectural structure in the country. The church has been named after Hallgrimur Petursson, an Icelandic poet and clergyman and the author of the Passion Hymns. The church was constructed during the period 1945-1986. The church is centrally located in the city and a very famous landmark. It houses a large organ pipe and is also used as an observation tower.
7. CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE, ITALY
The Santa Maria del Fiore, popularly known as the Cathedral of Florence, is located in Florence, Italy. The basilica has a wide central nave with 4 square bays and an aisle on either side of it. The whole plan forms the shape of a Latin cross. The church also has Gothic arches and a very beautiful interior.
8. CHARTRES CATHEDRAL, CHARTRES, FRANCE
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, commonly known as Chartres Cathedral, is located in Chartres, France. The most striking fact about this church is that it has retained a lot of its original structures, especially the original stained glass windows. On the exterior, there are heavy flying buttresses and the west consists of two contrasting spires. It is one of the most outstanding examples of French High Gothic style.
9. WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL
The Winchester Cathedral is located at Winchester, Hampshire, England. The cathedral is known for having the longest nave among all Gothic cathedrals of Europe. Another fact about this cathedral is that the famous author, Jane Austen, was buried in the North aisle of the nave. The cathedral has a spectacular interior design.
10. ST. MARK’S BASILICA, VENICE, ITALY
Saint Mark’s Basilica is located in Venice, Italy. It is one of the most beautiful churches of Venice. It was constructed in 1650 and has since then been one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations. It is an enticing example of Byzantine architecture.