Visit A Cathedral!
Traditionally, a cathedral is a church that hosts the seat of a bishop, a congregation from which he guides his diocese. Some feature Gothic elements, while others borrow modern styles from contemporary architecture. However, there’s still some common ground between the two.
Both leave their visitors speechless and completely awe-struck. If you’d like to spend some time in prayer or examine impressive vaulted ceilings, cathedrals make for beautiful AND spiritual destinations for travelers. With their elegant designs, rich historical background, and intense ambiance of Medieval times, the cathedrals on our list are among the most impressive sights in the world.
These structures are not only places of worship and centers of attraction for visitors but sources of long-forgotten stories as well. Here are our top 10 favorite cathedrals in the world!
Keep reading to see them all. And please leave us a comment at the end to tell us what you think about them!
St. Paul’s Cathedral, United Kingdom
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the first Protestant Cathedral that also happens to be the official home of the Royal House of England. This stunning cathedral was built in the early 17th-century and is the work of Sir Christopher Warren. The architectural design of St. Paul’s Cathedral is undoubtedly quite perfect.
It’s no wonder why Sir Warren later inspired the construction and design of St. Peter’s Basilica as well. Compared to it, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is just as impressive even though it’s much smaller. Today, the stunning tower in London symbolizes the nation’s strength and togetherness while overlooking many other buildings within London’s financial district.
The Duomo Cathedral, Italy
Other than the fact that this is an utterly artistic structure, constructed in Medieval times, Duomo di Milan is known to be the largest cathedral in Italy. This magnificent place is a priceless gem among the European buildings. The Medieval beauty rests on the grand Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy, and it took over 600 years to build.
With its pink-veined white marble and astonishing terrace views from its roof, Duomo di Milan is an artistic monument and a privileged place of devotion linked to the memory of the Italian Bishops. So next time you travel to Milan, be sure to take some time to visit the city’s most beautiful cathedral.
The Kölner Dom, Germany
The Majestic Kölner Dom is technically the most astonishing Gothic cathedral in Europe. Its soaring twin spires and challenging staircase to the top make it all the more compelling and exciting.
This unique gothic cathedral overlooks the beautiful city of Cologne while also keeping watch along the German Rhine River. With its gigantic scale, spiritual heart, and twin spires, The Kölner Dom is fully packed with art and other treasures.
For those feeling dazzled by the grandeur of the Kölner Dom, there’s a steep climb to the top of the Dom where the adventure lovers can enjoy phenomenal city views.
Notre Dame Cathedral, France
This cathedral site dates back to the early 5th century CE when a Merovingian bishop established a church on the site of some ancient Roman baths. Even though France wasn’t yet the modern unified political entity we know today, a tradition of French kings being coronated at Reims started with Clovis I in 496 CE.
The structure today dates back to the 13th century and is gothic in style, with some necessary restorations made throughout the years. Today, the French government owns the cathedral, and the Catholic Church is permitted to use the space. And even though we’ve seen this architectural beauty in many movies, none of them compare to actually standing within its walls.
Saint Charles Cathedral, Austria
With its superior dome and baroque architecture, the Cathedral of Saint Charles in Vienna is a cherished location by both photographers and churchgoers alike. Even though it has a delicate frame and elegance, this Austrian beauty boldly overlooks the entire city of the Waltz.
Known to locals as The Karlskirche, the Cathedral of Saint Charles in Vienna was conceived by the Austrian architect Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, best known for his luxurious architectural designs and detailed ideas. It was officially completed in 1739, and this elegant structure is also home to some beautiful gardens and colorful frescoes by Johannes Rottmayr.
St. Stephen’s Basilica, Hungary
St. Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest structure in Budapest, after the Hungarian Parliament. This fantastic cathedral, which stands at 315 feet, the maximum height allowed in the capital city, took over half a century to finalize.
Known to locals as the Szent Istvan Bazilika, there was a time when St. Stephen’s dome nearly collapsed, so the entire basilica had to be rebuilt again. But, the finished outcome was worth the time and effort.
Today this magnificent cathedral is popular with a sea of international tourists each year. Surrounded by two beautiful bell towers, St. Stephen’s Basilica also boasts panoramic city views. We recommend you take the 365 stairs to climb up to the top, where you’ll be greeted with the beauty of Budapest.
St. Peter’s Basilica, Italy
Yes, this is another cathedral in Italy on our list…and it probably won’t be the last, considering the beauty this country has to offer! The impressive architecture of the world-famous St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City took over a century to finish.
For its stunning and delicate construction, The City of Rome hired the world’s most skillful and gifted architects of its time. Admittedly, St. Peter’s Basilica is a gorgeous reflection of the late-Renaissance architecture. When entering this magnificent place of worship, visitors will find themselves surrounded by Tuscan colonnades.
The Basilica consists of a large square with an 82-foot obelisk at the center. And its baroque facade? The Italian architect Maderno sketched a spectacular cathedral built entirely from travertine stone, and the result is quite breathtaking.
You can find Hallgrimskirkja standing proudly in the middle of Reykjavik. This should be your first stop if you’re visiting this gorgeous country.
Go inside to warm up from the bitter cold and check out the giant pipe organ designed and built by German organ builder Johannes Klais of Bonn. Then grab the elevator to the top to take in the impressive views from the top. And, yes, you’ll find an elevator in this cathedral!
Unlike most cathedrals throughout Europe, Hallgrímskirkja is very modern. Its construction started in 1945 and was completed by 1986. So you won’t find any narrow winding staircases to the top here! On a clear day, which is not always guaranteed in Iceland, the 240-foot observation tower offers a picture-perfect 360-degree panoramic view of the city and its harbor.
The Sagrada Familia, Spain
Not that you would need any specific reason to visit beautiful Barcelona, but La Sagrada Familia, constructed between 1852-1926, is a legendary cathedral to visit! It is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Passion & Nativity towers.
From here, sightseers can also access other hugely influential attractions, including the Crypt, Nave, and Museum. It’s one of the largest Roman-Catholic churches in Europe, and La Sagrada Familia was the vision of the Catalan artist Antoni Gaudi who planned the project but wouldn’t actually live to see the day of its grand arrival.
And even though it may seem to be fully developed, the extravagant architecture of The Sagrada Familia is predicted to be fully completed by 2026.
Have YOU been to see any of these remarkable cathedrals? Let us know if we missed any in the comments below!
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