Europe has breathtaking churches the way New York City has rats: it’s absolutely crawling with them. No matter the country or city you find yourself in while in Europe, there is a strong possibility that you are very close to a historic and beautiful cathedral that can easily take up a day of your European adventure. Some have stained glass to die for, while others overwhelm the senses with ornate architecture. Some of the churches are well known for the history around them, while others became historic just for being beautiful. For centuries these monumental buildings have stood as a testament to man’s devotion to god, and furthermore they are some of the best examples of man’s architectural prowess.
Commissioned by Ivan The Terrible in 1555, the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed is also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos and stands as an iconic part of Moscow’s Red Square. The church is modeled after a bonfire shooting flames into the air and it is completely different than all of the other architecture throughout not only Russia but most of eastern Europe. Though it was converted into a museum after the Soviet government made a move toward total secularism for the USSR, its famous facade still holds up as one of the most beautiful churches in all of Europe.
This otherworldly gorgeous structure is absolute proof that beauty is as much in the journey as it is in the destination. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi began work on his most glorious creation The Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, also called Expiatory Church of the Holy Family way back in 1882, and here we are in 2020 without it being done. Despite that, it’s still one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. Supposedly, construction will be completed on this tremendous building in 2026, 100 years after its architect’s death. When asked why he was moving so slowly with its construction, Gaudi responded: “my client is not in a hurry.”
Sitting by the side of the River Thames, the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster, or Westminster Abbey as it is commonly known, is only about two decades away from celebrating its 1000th birthday. Construction on this iconic church was completed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor all the way back in 1042. It was remodeled in 1245 by King Henry III, but that remodel wasn’t finished until 1517, well after Henry had passed on. The church as it now looks was completed under the reign of Richard II, and it remains one of the most well-known attractions in the UK, and possibly the most notable religious structure in the entire country.
Not only is Notre Dame De Paris one of the most well-known churches in the world, but it is also one of the most resilient. The building took more than 200-years to build and took on significant damage to its outer facade during the French Revolution, and then again when the building caught fire just a few years ago. Yet, it is still standing as one of the most famous places of worship in the world. The holy facility is also home to the Crown of Thorns, a piece of the very cross Jesus Christ was crucified on, and one of the holy nails that kept him stuck to the cross.
The centerpiece of Vatican City and also the largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is known to be the final resting place of the Apostle St. Peter, the first Catholic pope. The splendorous structure was designed by the great Michelangelo and built over the course of more than a century. It is the capital of Catholicism and a magnet for Renaissance art lovers all over the world. Many churches have stood on the holy site where it now resides, but none have been more iconic than this beautiful house of worship.