European churches represent much more than a place where religious ceremonies are held. They had a different role in the social and cultural life of society. In the middle ages the Church usually was the only Gallery, Museum or concert hall in the city. The later periods brought a change in the architecture but its basic concept remained the same – sacred buildings, built to be the most beautiful in the city. European Churches tell the interesting story and the history of the continent. At first glance, you notice the numerous evidence of diverse religions, architectural and artistic styles, as well as culture. But if you delve beneath the surface, you will notice that the churches have the same mission – worship before God and preaching of the same values. Next 7 buildings are just a drop in the diversity of the incredibly beautiful European Churches and sacred heritage of the continent.
Cologne Cathedral, Germany
The fabulous Cathedral in Cologne is one of the most famous churches in Europe. It is familiar to pilgrims from all over the world with its precious treasure – a sarcophagus that is believed to protect the ruins of the biblical three kings. The Gothic Cathedral is one of the largest in the world and has the second highest Tower (the Tower of the Cathedral is a pioneer in Ulm). In 1996 the Cathedral was included in the list of sites of importance for UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sistine chapel, Vatican city
There’s no way to skip this so beautiful building! What is it without Michelangelo? Probably still would be among the most valuable masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, presenting the impressive frescoes by artists such as Botticelli, Raphael and Pietro Perugino. The most famous part of the Church is its dome that adorned with the creations of one of the greatest artists of all time – Michelangelo Buonarroti. The complex composition of the Church consists of nine sections that recreate the creation of the world, God’s relationship with mankind and the downfall of the human race. You will need to order the queue waiting to be able to enjoy this beauty but lost in waiting time is definitely worth it.
Notre Dame, France
Another beautiful church which has to be placed among the most beautiful in Europe. It is located on the Ile de la Cite in Paris. It was built between the XII and XIV century from several architects, the result – a various architectural styles, as well as the predominant Gothic style. The Church was damaged twice in XVIII century, then needed a renovation. The main attractions of Notre Dame are the enormous bells, a few gorgeous stained glass windows, the large gallery with a whopping gargoyles and three richly decorated portals.
Sagrada Família, Spain
Another European Pearl! The construction of this magnificent building started in 1882 and never finished until today. It is planned to be completed in the year 2026. Some architect contributed with their ideas to the project, but it belongs to Antoni Gaudí, who heads the process between 1883 and 1926. Gaudi was not just a great builder, he was a genius, a conceptual creator, who wove the Christian symbolism in the building, which is inspired by nature. The Sagrada Familia is extremely beautiful and untraditional. There are 18 bell towers, which represented Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the twelve apostles and the four evangelists. Once you see an equally impressive interior which symbolizes Jerusalem, you should take time to walk through the crypt where Gaudi sleeps. From the top of the church you can enjoy the lovely view to Barcelona.
Euphrasian Basilica, Croatia
The splendid Basilica of Saint Euphrasia is one of the best examples of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean. It was built in VI century on the site of an earlier Church and in it you can see mosaics dating back to the V century. The beautiful turret at the rear of the Church is decorated with Golden mosaics, which depict Jesus, surrounded by the twelve apostles, Saints and Bishop Euphrasia, who ordered the work. Due to its exceptional value, Euphrasian Basilica is included in the list of European Churches under the wing of UNESCO.
St. Basil, Russia
Saint Basil is one of the most recognizable European Churches and was built in the XVI century by Ivan IV. The name of the Cathedral, which is located on red square in Moscow is actually a “Cathedral of intercession of Theotokos in the Moat”, but it became better known as “St. Basil”. The architecture of the Church recreates a flaming fire, which rises to the sky. There is no other similar building in Russia. According to the legend, the architect, built the Cathedral has been blinded by the King, not to be able to ever build so beautiful church. Nowadays, the Church is open as a division of the public museum.
City of St. Paul, England
You may have noticed that most of the churches of our list are located in major cities of the continent. And this is no exception, as it adorns the English capital. “St. Paul” is recognizable as one of the largest churches in Europe. Today’s Cathedral (fourth at that location) was created under the project of Sir Christopher Wren. It was built between 1675-1710, as the previous church was destroyed by the great fire of London. In this Cathedral have held numerous important services – funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Winston Churchill, the festivities for the Jubilees of Queen Victoria and many others, including the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Probably the sight of the Princess, who climbs the steps of St. Paul in a wedding dress will be remembered much longer than the Queen’s subjects.