Here are the top 22 of the most beautiful churches in the world
Chapels, cathedrals, basilicas, sanctuaries, abbeys, convents and monasteries, Christian buildings take many forms and are present almost everywhere on the planet. They are sometimes located in improbable places, in the city, in the mountains, with diverse and varied architecture. During this Christmas period, discover our selection of the 22 most beautiful churches in the world.
Sanctuary of Las Lajas in Colombia, the Lourdes of South America
Overlooking an impressive canyon in southern Colombia, not far from the border with Ecuador, the Sanctuary of Las Lajas is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in South America. Perched 2,888 meters above sea level, the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Las Lajas is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the world, nicknamed « The miracle of God above the abyss ». Built at the start of the 20th century on the site of an 18th century chapel, this gray and white stone monument in the neo-Gothic style is distinguished by its location on a bridge with two arches spanning gorges 100 meters above the Guaitara River: a breathtaking site! Legend has it that a mute little girl miraculously regained her speech in these places after seeing the Virgin in 1754. To access the basilica, pilgrims must climb a staircase of 270 steps covered with thousands of ex-votos!
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Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Putinki in Moscow
The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Putinki is a 17th-century Orthodox church located in Moscow. It is the last church built with pyramidal roofs, since replaced by cupolas. The construction of this architectural splendor was supervised by the Tsar himself, who came there every year on pilgrimage.
The Sainte Chapelle in Paris
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the Sainte-Chapelle was built by Saint-Louis in the 13th century on the Ile de la Cité in Paris to house Christ’s crown of thorns. To admire its sumptuous stained glass windows, you have to go through the Palais de Justice! This jewel is distinguished by its 600 m² of glass roof, a multitude of 15-meter stained glass windows representing more than 1,000 scenes from the Bible.
Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye in Russia
Less than 15 km south of Moscow, the town of Kolomenskoye was the summer residence of the tsars in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is here, in the middle of a park, that the Church of the Ascension, listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, and the wooden palace of Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich are located.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Apparition of Brasilia
A flying saucer ? No, the cathedral of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil! Forget Notre Dame de Paris or Chartres, the Metropolitana Cathedral in Brasilia looks nothing like the standards of a cathedral! This extraordinary monument created by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is more reminiscent of a spaceship than a church! It is besides all this futuristic city which is classified in the world inheritance of UNESCO
A marvel of Flamboyant Gothic, the Duomo is the symbol and the jewel of Milan. The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Milan is home to more than 3,000 statues, gargoyles and macaroons, and 52 columns! Work began in 1387 and was not completed until 1813… With a length of 157 meters, it could accommodate more than 40,000 faithful, making it one of the most imposing churches in the world. Its splendid marble facade is the most striking element of the building with more than 90 gargoyles and 130 needles rising to the sky. A statue of the Virgin Mary crowns it all, perched more than 100 meters away!
The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
It is the most famous unfinished monument on the planet. The Sagrada Familia is to Barcelona what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris: the symbol of the city: unthinkable to ignore it! The construction of the masterpiece of the brilliant Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi began in 1882 and Gaudi devoted 40 years of his life to it until his death in 1926. He was knocked down by a tram just as he was leaving the Sagrada Familia… hopes that the site will be completed in 2026 to celebrate the centenary of the death of Gaudi, who rests in the crypt. This modern cathedral, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a breathtaking view to the brave who will climb the 426 steps of the spiral staircase that climbs to the top, but also to the lazy who will take the elevator!
Hallgrímur Church in Reykjavik
It is the symbol of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The Lutheran church of Hallgrímskirkja is certainly made of concrete, which is surprising in the country of nature, but it is precisely to celebrate its beauty, in particular its basalt organs and its glaciers. Erected at the top of a hill overlooking the city, its construction began in 1945 and was completed in 1986. A statue of Leif Erikson, pioneer of the Viking expansion, is erected at the foot of this expressionist-style building, whose bell tower culminates at 73 meters. – © takepicsforfun/123RF
Notre-Dame-du-Haut Chapel in Franche-Comté
Inaugurated in 1955, the Notre-Dame-du-Haut chapel is the work of the famous Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, and as such, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unusual church erected on the site of an ancient Roman temple dominates a hill in the town of Ronchamp, in Haute-Saône, in the Saônoises Vosges, in the north of Franche-Comté. Each side of this round enclosure with whitewashed walls is very different from the rest, in order to surprise visitors. Perched on a hill between Vesoul and Belfort facing the Jura and Vosges mountains, the site is also an important place of pilgrimage. – © anzemulec/123RF
Novodevichy Convent in Moscow
Located in the south-west of Moscow on the banks of the Moskva River, the Convent of the Virgins (Novodevichy), listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, is built like a fortress. Remained almost intact since its construction in the 17th century, it is also called Bogoroditse-Smolenski monastery, but we will stick to the convent of the Virgins! The nearby cemetery houses the graves of Gogol, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Eisenstein, Mayakovsky, Prokofiev, Nikita Khrushchev and Boris Yeltsin, in short, beautiful people! It’s a bit like their Père-Lachaise in short… Founded in 1524, the most beautiful monastery in the Russian capital was transformed into a museum during the Soviet period, before regaining its spiritual function with the fall of the USSR. – © scaliger/123RF
Church of Panagia Paraportiani in Mykonos
All dressed in white, the adorable church of Panagia Paraportiani is located in the town of Chora, on the island of Mykonos. Its name means Our Lady of the Side Gate, as its entrance was at the side gate of the Kastro district entrance. The construction of the church began in 1425 and was not completed until the 17th century. It offers a superb view of the Aegean Sea. – © Iosif Lucian Bolca /123RF
Goreme churches in Turkey
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Eleven Churches of Göreme in Turkey are part of Göreme National Park , Cappadocia. Carved into the tuff, these troglodyte churches house superb murals depicting scenes from the Bible. This vestige of Byzantine art is also distinguished by the presence of « fairy chimneys », formed by erosion. – © Pavel Szabo /123RF
Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow
It is one of the symbols of Moscow. Bordering the Red Square and the Kremlin, the Saint-Basile-le-Bienheureux cathedral is undoubtedly the most magical monument of the Russian capital with its bulbs and domes worthy of a palace from the Arabian Nights! Composed of nine independent churches, it also has eight chapels which represent the eight battles of the capture of the Khanate of Kazan on the Golden Horde (the Tatars). This marvel straight out of a fairy tale was built in the 16th century by order of Ivan the Terrible, who would have ordered that the eyes of the architects be gouged out to prevent them from rebuilding such a masterpiece elsewhere. work. In short, here is one who did not usurp his nickname! – © elen1/123RF
San Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro
Located in Rio de Janeiro, in the Lapa district, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro leaves no visitor indifferent. This modern concrete pyramid housing abstract stained-glass windows doesn’t look like a traditional church, to say the least, like its counterpart in Brasilia. Completed in 1976, this building dedicated to Saint Sebastian, patron saint of Rio de Janeiro, is 80 meters high. The colors of its stained glass windows – green, red, blue and yellow – symbolize respectively the unique, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. – © Atosan / 123RF
Beta Giyorgis in Ethiopia
Bétä Giyorgis (St. George) Church is one of eleven rock-hewn churches in Lalibela , Ethiopia. These monolithic and medieval churches carved into the rock in the 13th century are marvels classified as World Heritage by Unesco. Culminating at 2,630 meters above sea level, this grandiose monastic city is considered the Jerusalem of black Africa. Holy city of the country’s Orthodox Christians, Lalibela is an essential place of pilgrimage. It is in this mystical place that the most important religious ceremonies in Ethiopia take place. – © milosk /123RF
Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg
The Orthodox Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood , also called the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, is in Saint Petersburg. Why this name? Simply because it was built on the very spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. Its architecture is reminiscent of the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It houses more than 7,500 m² of mosaics completely covering the walls and ceilings, a world record! Work began in 1883 under the reign of Alexander III, the son of the martyr tsar, but the building was not completed until 1907 under the reign of Nicolas II, the last tsar of Russia. Nowadays it is no longer a place of worship, but the Mosaic Museum, dedicated to the memory of the assassinated Tsar. – © ivantagan/123RF
Our Lady of Glory Cathedral in Maringá, Brazil
Decidedly, they have allure and are in the originality of the Brazilian cathedrals! After the flying saucer of Brasilia and the concrete pyramid of Rio de Janeiro, here is the rocket of Maringa! Built between 1958 and 1972, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Glory is located in Maringá, in the state of Paraná in Brazil. It is the tallest church in Latin America and one of the tallest in the world at 124 meters! Its conical shape is directly inspired by the satellites of the Sputnik space program. – © Vinicius Tupinamba /123RF
Cathedral Nuestra Senora del Pilar in Spain
Located in Mejorada del Campo, near Madrid, the unfinished cathedral Nuestra Señora del Pilar was built entirely by Justo Gallego Martínez, now 95, from 1961 to the present day. There is no building permit and the cathedral could be demolished at any time… – © ferwulf/123RF
Holy Cross Chapel in Sedona Arizona
Perched on the ocher hills of Sedona, Arizona, the Chapel of the Holy Cross was built in 1956 by a local rancher and sculptor, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who was inspired by the Empire State Building for the facade. Indeed, one thinks of the skyscrapers of New York when contemplating its monumental iron cross 27.4 meters high! – © Randall Runtsch /123RF
Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe church in Auvergne
Here is a church that looks good! The Church of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe , very close to Le Puy-en-Velay, crowns a volcanic peak 82 meters high! Built in 961, this Romanesque church was consecrated as an abbey in the 12th century. The mass must be earned: you will have to climb 268 steps of this rock, in reality a volcanic chimney formed by an eruption, which has solidified over time. Since May 2017, the site has been magnified by a spectacle of nocturnal illuminations: « Puy de Lumières ». Fairy! – © milosk /123RF
The wooden churches of Kizhi in Russia
The Church of the Transfiguration and the Church of the Intercession, two churches made of pine wood, assembled without any nails or screws or any metal parts, date from the 18th century. Classified as a UNESCO heritage site, they are located on the island of Kiji , on Lake Onega , in Karelia, in northwestern Russia. The Church of the Transfiguration is topped with 22 silver bulbs forming a sort of pyramid, housing a beautiful Baroque iconostasis. – © Jejim / 123RF
The Chapel of St. Kinga in Poland
It is the largest underground church in the world. More than 100 meters underground, St. Kinga’s Chapel is hidden in the heart of the Wieliczka Salt Mine , near Krakow in Poland. This splendid underground chapel is a unique jewel in the world, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Consisting exclusively of rock salt, it is dedicated to Saint Kinga, patron saint of salt miners, whose relics rest here. Salt crystal chandeliers adorn this 54-meter-long, 18-meter-wide, and 12-meter-high marvel, bringing magical illumination. Among the many works of art is a salt statue of the former Polish pope John Paul II. – © Anuphan Sukhapinda /123RF