Architectural Wonders: 11 Most Beautiful Churches People Have Ever Seen

For years, the center of many cities was built around the church. In the modern world, many travelers appreciate visiting churches not only for religious reasons but also to enjoy the architecture and history. Here are 10 churches with memorable designs you’ll want to see.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Named after St. Peter, founder of the Catholic Church and one of Jesus’s disciples, St. Peter’s Basilica is known throughout the world. It’s located in the center of Vatican City and features famous artwork and architecture that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

2. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Sainte Chapelle Interior Stained Glass
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This Gothic-designed church was built in the 13th century in what was once the residence of French royalty. Behind the main altar are 6,458 square feet of stained glass windows, which many visitors say is like walking into a jewel.

3. Basilica of the Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain

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Visitors to Barcelona often visit this landmark, which began construction in 1882. Several twisted spires and flying buttresses encapsulate its iconic silhouette, making its design a work of art in itself.

4. Newcastle Cathedral, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England

The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas
Image Credit: Michael D Beckwith, Own Work – CC0/Wiki Commons.

Designed by Augustus Welby Pugin (who designed the interiors of the Houses of Parliament), this church is humble in size but a notable landmark. As part of its Gothic Revival style, the church has a single towering spire, but instead of one main roof, this church features a triple roof construction.

5. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

St. Patrick's Cathedral Complex
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

If you ever visit New York City, see St. Patrick’s in midtown Manhattan. The cornerstone was laid in 1858 and opened in 1879. Even among the skyscrapers and urban setting, St. Patrick’s offers a stunning Gothic design and welcomes visitors to light candles for loved ones or join them for regular Mass.

6. St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi, Vietnam

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi, Vietnam
Image Credit: Eustaquio Santimano – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

This Catholic church in Hanoi is known locally as “The Big Church.” The cathedral was built in the late 1880s by the French government in Indochina. It resembles classic Gothic cathedrals often found in Europe. Now, it’s an iconic landmark of the area that attracts visitors year-round.

7. Liebfrauenkirche, Trier, Germany

Die Liebfrauenkirche in Arnstadt
Image Credit: Michael Sander, Own Work – CC BY-SA/Wiki Commons.

Records show that this church dates back to 326 AD. Unlike other churches on this list, the Liebfrauenkirche is designed like a fortress, with thick stone walls and columns, which adds to its charm and beauty. You can also stroll through the garden on the grounds before going inside.

8. Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France

Scene from the Good Samaritan window Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

While Notre Dame may be the most famous Gothic cathedral, the Chartres Cathedral in northern France is equally stunning. Its twin, towering spires and arched ceilings are classic features of this style of church. The cathedral is also known for its rose window that depicts scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

9. Ruins of Saint Paul’s, Macau, China

Ruins of Saint Paul's, Macau, China
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Although this site is of the remains of what was once the Church of St. Paul, it still attracts thousands of visitors. The church was meant to introduce Catholicism to the area. Even with just one structural wall remaining, you can view relics and artifacts and learn about the church’s history.

10. Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, Rome, Italy

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is not only the highest-ranking church out of all the papal basilicas of Rome, but it’s also the oldest public church in Rome. It was built in 324 AD. This cathedral is historically important and features significant artwork throughout the church.

11. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
Image Credit: Anton Zelenov, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is in the center of Moscow and is a world-famous symbol of Russia’s Orthodox church, as well as Moscow itself. The most striking features of this Byzantine-influenced cathedral are its colorful, dome-shaped towers. Each dome is a symbol of the 1552 assault on the city of Kazan.


The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


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