Europe's most beautiful churches
Cathedrals and churches are masterpieces of architecture. Here are some of the most beautiful and famous places of worship in Europe.
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Saint Peter's Basilica is located in the Vatican City and is one of the seven pilgrimage churches of Rome. It covers an area of about 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) and can accommodate the same number of seated worshippers. This makes St. Peter's Basilica the largest of the papal basilicas. It's considered one of the most important churches in the world.
The Duomo di Santa Maria Nascente, better known as the Duomo di Milano, is one of the most famous buildings in Italy. Construction began in 1386 but was not completed until 1965. From the roof, visitors can admire the details of the cathedral's intricate stonemasonry and enjoy panoramic views of Milan — and even the Alps in the distance.
Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris
One of the earliest Gothic churches in France, Notre-Dame de Paris was built in Medieval times. As part of Paris' Seine riverfront, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. The church suffered severe damage in a major fire in April 2019. Shortly afterwards, the French government decided it would be faithfully reconstructed.
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
The Sagrada Familia is sometimes referred to as "the unfinished church." Construction, which began in the late 19th century, is still ongoing. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005, it still attracts millions of tourists every year. There are doubts that Gaudí's original design will ever be realized.
Westminster Abbey in London
Over 700 years old, Westminster Abbey is located in the center of London. It is here that the kings and queens of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are traditionally crowned, married and buried. The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla was held at Westminster Abbey on May 6th, 2023. In 2011, Prince William and Kate exchanged their wedding vows here.
High Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Cologne
Of course, no one uses this official name when referring to the Cologne Cathedral. Though it doesn't quite qualify for the title of "tallest church in Germany" — the spire of Ulm Cathedral is taller — its two 157-meter (515 ft) towers are impressive nonetheless. The cathedral, built from 1248 to 1880, is rarely seen without scaffolding as there's always something being repaired or renovated.
The Church of Our Lady in Dresden
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), one of the world's largest sandstone structures, was built from 1726 to 1743 and is an icon of Dresden's Baroque architectural style. At the end of World War II, it was badly damaged by air raids. It burned down and collapsed on February 15, 1945. The church was rebuilt from 1994 onwards and reconsecrated in 2005.
St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna
The construction of this Viennese landmark began in the 12th century and lasted several hundred years. Today, St. Stephen's Cathedral is considered one of the most notable Gothic buildings in Austria. Some 343 steps lead up to the turret room, which has breathtaking views over Vienna. Europe's second largest free-swinging church bell hangs in the north tower.
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, the largest and most famous church in the Czech Republic, is located on the grounds of Prague Castle. Several national heroes, emperors and saints are buried in the cathedral. Among them St. John Nepomuk, whose tomb was made using more than a ton of silver. St. Vitus Cathedral houses one of Europe's most valuable cathedral treasuries, consisting of about 400 items.
Borgund Stave Church in Norway
The Norwegian province of Vestland is home to one of the oldest wooden buildings in Europe, the Borgund Stave Church, an extraordinary example of Norwegian stave architecture. The church is only open to visitors from May to September. Right next to it is an information center detailing the history of stave churches and religion in the Middle Ages.