Some of the oldest and most breathtaking art and architecture out there exists in churches all over the world. I mean, if you’re going to build a shrine to the almighty, how could it not be marvelous? Luckily, some of the most beautiful churches around the globe have been preserved in their magnificence over centuries, and taking a visit to any one of these destinations is sure to sweep you off your feet. With towering pillars, beautiful stained glass ceilings, awe-worthy artwork, and statuesque altars, these churches are some of the most visited travel destinations in history. Inspire your next pilgrimage by scrolling through the gallery below of the 10 most beautiful churches in the world.
Most Beautiful Churches St Peters Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Unsurprisingly, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome tops our list, as it’s the largest church in the world. Designed by architects Donato Bramante, Carlo Maderno, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Michelangelo, this Italian church is the most famous of Renaissance architecture and is often regarded as one of the greatest churches in the Christian religion. Catholic tradition holds that the high altar in the church resides above the tomb of St. Peter, Jesus’ chief apostle.
Most Beautiful Churches Church Transfiguration Russia
Church of the Transfiguration, Russia
This 22-dome church is located on the island of Kizhi Island in Lake Onega in Russia. Because it isn’t heated on the inside, it doesn’t hold winter services and is known as a “summer church.” Legend has it that the church was built by one builder with an axe who threw said axe into the lake upon completion, claiming “there was not and will be not another one to match it.”
Most Beautiful Churches La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família, Spain
Translated to mean "church of the holy family," construction started on La Sagrada Família in 1882, blending together the architecture styles of Gothic and Art Nouveau. Antoni Gaudí, who designed La Sagrada Família, died in 1926 when the church was only partially completed, but work continued under different architects using Gaudí's plans. During the Spanish Civil War, this church was damaged and its construction was halted. However, construction resumed in 1940. Updates and construction continue on this church and are estimated to be completed by 2026 — eerily, the 100th anniversary Gaudí's death.
Most Beautiful Churches Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavík Iceland
The towering Hallgrímskirkja located in Reykjavík, Iceland, is the largest church in Iceland. It’s named after an Icelandic clergyman and poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson, who wrote the Passion Hymns, a collection of poetry dedicated to the Passion story of Jesus, the period of time from Jesus' return to Jerusalem and his crucifixion.
Most Beautiful Churches Pilgrimage Church Of Wies
Pilgrimage Church of Wies, Germany
Located in Bavaria, Germany, the Pilgrimage Church of Wies was built in the late 1740s in the late Baroque style of architecture and art. While there were many talks that the Bavarian government had planned to demolish the church for economic reasons, the beautiful landmark still stands today.
Most Beautiful Churches Notre Dame Basilica
Notre-Dame Basilica, Canada
Located in Old Montreal, Quebec, the Notre Dame Basilica was built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture and is decorated intricately with deep blues, purples, reds, silvers, and golds. The church boasts stunning statues as well as stained glass windows, which, unlike other churches, depict the religious history of Montreal, rather than biblical stories.
Most Beautiful Churches Church Of The Assumption Lake Bled Slovenia
Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption, Slovenia
The Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption in Slovenia stands on a prehistoric site on Lake Bled. The church itself dates all the way back to the 17th century. Most notably, the church contains within it the “wishing bell” which, legend has it, promises to grant the wish of all who ring the bell and give praise to the Virgin Mary.
Most Beautiful Churches Alt Cathedral Of Zipaquira Colombia
Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Columbia
Unlike any other church in existence, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in Columbia was built within the tunnels of a halite salt mine in the town of Zipaquirá. It has three parts signifying the birth, life, and death of Jesus. While there are a few marble sculptures located in the temple, most of them are hand carved directly out of the halite rock.
Most Beautiful Churches Duomo Di Milano Italy
Duomo di Milano, Italy
Building of the Duomo di Milano, or Cathedral of Milan, began in 1386, though this massive beauty took over six centuries to complete. It was built in dedication to St. Mary of the Nativity, and is the fourth largest church in the world.
Most Beautiful Churches St Basils Cathedral Moscow Russia
St. Basil's Cathedral, Russia
The St. Basil’s Cathedral located in Moscow, is actually now a museum. It was originally built under the ruler Ivan the Terrible, with construction beginning in the 1550s. St. Basil's Cathedral is known for being one of it's kind — a marker of the climax of Russian architecture that later occurred in the 17th century.