Soaring steeples. Terrific towers. Decadent domes. The churches on this list are some of the most gorgeous ones out there. Many of them have rich histories, unique to their surroundings, and most of them will be quite recognizable to those reading this list.
Each of these religious buildings bring something special to the table, though, and no matter what type of architecture people are into, everyone can surely agree that these are true works of art. From a well-known cathedral in Washington, D.C. and tourist attractions in Europe to a basilica church that can be found in a canyon in Columbia, these 10 churches are all jaw-droppingly beautiful.
10 Trinity Church in New York
Trinity Church can be found in New York, New York, nestled between skyscrapers near Wall Street and Broadway. It has been around since the 1800s, and on September 11, 2001, people turned to this building as a safe haven.
The gothic architecture and quaint cemetery (both pictured here) would stand out anywhere and in any time period, and today, this place definitely adds a breath of fresh air amongst the hustle and bustle of the city. While NYC has many beautiful churches and an array of architectural details, this popular church surely tops the list.
9 Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (more commonly known as the Washington National Cathedral) is located in Washington, D.C. According to WorldAtlas, it's one of the largest churches in the Americas, and the construction process started in 1907.
The design style here is known as Neo-Gothic, with its points and towers that bring in a great deal of tourists each year; yes, the nation’s capital is full of historic buildings and notable locations that appeal to those who are interested in politics, history, architecture and beyond, and this cathedral is definitely a spot to see.
8 Las Lajas Sanctuary in Columbia
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica church that is in a river’s canyon in Columbia. This church may not be as well known as some of the others on this list, but it certainly fits the criteria and belongs here! The main structure alone is quite pretty, but the bridge that spans across the canyon helps make this particular place stand out from the rest.
Built in the early 1900s, Las Lajas Sanctuary even has a legend surrounding it, as a woman and her daughter took shelter from a storm here and claimed to see the Virgin Mary; today, many flock here to see for themselves and to look for healing.
7 Saint Basil's Cathedral in Russia
The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, which is also known as Saint Basil's Cathedral, is located in Moscow’s Red Square. Built in the 1500s, it's now a museum.
The colors and shapes used in the design of this building have a sort of whimsical look, as if this could be an attraction at Disneyland! Yes, the cathedral certainly sticks out in Russia, with its vivid domes going up into the sky, and it is also one of the most unique listings here today—but something that clearly can be called jaw-droppingly beautiful.
6 St Mark's Basilica In Italy
Of course, The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark belongs on this list, as well. Known more commonly as St Mark's Basilica, this is the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, and it shows off an Italo-Byzantine architectural style; angels, arches, horses, mosaics, gold, a detailed roofline and a winged lion are just a few of the embellishments that make this location a popular, recognizable and gorgeous one.
In the year 978, ground broke for Italy’s St Mark's Basilica, and it was completed in 1092, making it the oldest church on this list.
5 The Mont Saint Michel Abbey in France
The Mont Saint Michel Abbey finished up being built in 1523. Rumor has it that this is the location that helped to inspire the sights seen in the movie Tangled. Just look at this stunning building, up high and all alone, looking like it could definitely be fit for a princess!
Mont-Saint-Michel is a city and an island in Lower Normandy, a region of France, and how this building is set up echoes how the town functions, with god on top, great halls below that, stores and houses below that and housing for fishermen and farmers at the bottom.
4 Hallgrímskirkja in Iceland
Hallgrímskirkja is a parish church, resembling the landscape of its location, that can be found in Reykjavík, Iceland. According to the website icelandtravel.is, it is the largest church in this Nordic island nation, which seems quite believable, judging by this photo. Many churches have a steeple on the top, but this one, high up in the sky, is very unique.
Hallgrímskirkja’s construction took place from 1945 to 1986, and this building contains a pipe organ, a crypt beneath the choir, an observation tower and a statue out front of Leif Eiriksson, an Icelandic Viking.
3 St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
One of the most known religious buildings in the world is The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (or St. Peter's Basilica). This is an Italian Renaissance church in the Vatican City of Rome, and it is praised for its architecture, its size and its significance within the Christian world.
It was built from the year 1506 to the year 1626, and Saint Peter's tomb is said to lie here, beneath the high altar. From the inside out, St. Peter's Basilica is a jaw-droppingly beautiful place, with detail upon detail.
2 Cologne Cathedral in Germany
The Cologne Cathedral—which can be found in Cologne, Germany—is renowned when it comes to German Catholicism and Gothic architecture. Its website states that it receives about 20,000 visitors each and every day, as many flock to see these tall twin spires and this façade, which is the largest on the planet, according to sources such as The Vintage News.
Construction for the cathedral started in 1248, but it was not completed until 1880. The long and hard work was well worth it, as this spot is absolutely breathtaking. Just look at all of that detailing!
1 Sagrada Família in Barcelona
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família’s history is fascinating...It started being built in 1882, in Barcelona. Architect Antoni Gaudí dedicated his life to this building and finished less than a quarter of it before passing away and being buried in the church’s crypt.
Private donations kept construction going, but interruptions such as war and a fire slowed progress. Today’s technological advances have helped this project along, but there are still challenges, like building ten more spires, which will symbolize Biblical figures. The centenary of Gaudí's death will be in 2026, so perhaps Sagrada Família will completed by then. Of course, it's still a gorgeous building.