Amazing religious buildings can be found all around the world, and in this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous churches in the world.
Related: Check out this list with some of the world’s famous arches as well.
Famous churches in the world
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and is located in Vatican City, the little papal enclave within the city of Rome in Italy. It’s one of the most prominent Renaissance buildings ever constructed and was designed principally by Bramante and Michelangelo.
Construction of the present building started in 1506 and was only completed in 1526. The Catholic Church mentions that the site is the burial place of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, and also of the first Bishop of Rome.
The Sacré-Coeur is also referred to as the “Basilica of the Sacred Heart” and is a majestic church located on Montmartre Hill, the highest point in Paris. It’s one of the most popular landmarks in Paris and is the second-most visited site in the city.
Construction of the Sacré-Coeur started in the year 1875, but because of financial problems, it was only completed in the year 1914. The church was consecrated 5 years later, after the end of the Second World War in 1919.
The Pantheon in the city of Rome is an Ancient Roman temple that was repurposed as a Catholic Church in the 7th century. The church was dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” and is commonly known as the “Santa Maria Rotonda.”
The original temple was constructed as early as the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus but was rebuilt several times, first by Trajan and finally completed by Hadrian in the year 126 A.D. The main building is famous because it has an opening at the top of its massive dome.
4. Sagrada Familia
The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, also referred to as the “Basilica of the Holy Family,” is a huge church in the center of the Spanish city of Barcelona. It’s world-famous because of its striking design and the fact that it remains unfinished up until today.
Construction of the church started in the year 1882 and shortly after famous Catalan architect Gaudi took over and created one of the most amazing designs ever created. When Gaudi passed away in the year 1926, only a quarter of the cathedral had been completed.
5. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is officially known as the “Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster,” and is a famous Gothic church located in the City of Westminster in central London. It’s one of the most famous religious buildings in the United Kingdom.
It has been the place of coronation and burial site for English and British monarchs ever since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066. It’s believed that a church was founded on its location as early as the 7th century. The current building began in the year 1245 on orders of King Henry III.
6. Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral is officially known as “Cathedral Church of Saint Peter” and informally as the “Dom.” It’s one of the most important religious buildings in Germany and an amazing example of Gothic Architecture.
Construction of the cathedral started as early as 1248 and upon completion in 1880, it as the tallest building in the world, a record it held only for 4 years though when it was surpassed by the Washington Monument. Right now, it still remains that tallest twin-spired church in the world.
7. Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral is officially known as the “Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln” and is located in the town of Lincoln in the East Midlands in England. It’s located right across another medieval structure, the Lincoln Castle.
Construction of the cathedral started as early as the year 1072 and upon completion in the year 1311, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza. It held this record for a total of 248 years, and if its spire had remained intact, it would have held this record until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889!
8. Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre-Dame Cathedral, also referred to as “Our Lady of Paris Cathedral,” is one of the most iconic churches in the world. It’s located on a small island in the River Seine in the center of Paris called “Île de la Cité” in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.
Construction of the cathedral started in the year 1160 and was just about completed in its current form about a century later in the year 1260. That makes it all the more tragic that the roof of the cathedral caught fire on April 15, 2019, destroying large parts of the upper part of the church. Restorations are underway though to bring back the Notre-Dame to its old glory!
9. Sainte Chapelle
The Sainte Chapelle is a chapel built in the Gothic style and located in the medieval Palais de la Cité, the royal residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. It’s also located in the Île de la Cité in the River Seine in Paris, France.
Construction of the chapel started on the orders of King Louis IX in the year 1238 and was completed in 1248. It used to hold the collection of Passion Relics, including Christ’s Crown of Thorns, which was later moved to Notre-Dame Cathedral. The chapel is world-famous for its huge 13th-century stained glass collections, the largest of its kind in the world!
10. St. Basil’s Cathedral
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is officially known as the “Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed” and is a Christian Church located on the famous Red Square in the capital of Russia, Moscow. It’s one of the most iconic churches in the world and has become a symbol of the city of Moscow.
It was built between 1555 and 1561 on the orders of Ivan the Terrible himself, the Prince of Russia who became the first Tsar of the country and ruled between 1547 and 1584. the church has been secularized since 1929 and is now part of the State Historical Museum.
11. Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral is located in the historical city center of Seville, the biggest city in the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. It’s remarkable because it used to be the location of an old mosque that was built in the 12th century but turned into a cathedral.
The current cathedral was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and is currently the 3rd largest church in the entire world, as well as the largest Gothic church in the world. Its bell tower called “La Giralda” is one of the most famous symbols of the city of Seville.
12. St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most famous churches in the world. It’s located in the historical city center of London and has been the location of numerous important events, including famous funerals and marriages. It serves as the mother church of the Diocese of London.
The cathedral was dedicated to Paul the Apostle and it’s believed that a church was founded on its location as early as 604 A.D. The current church replaced the building that is referred to as Old St Paul’s which was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666 and designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren.
13. Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance and has an extensive history of innovation in art and architecture. It’s one of the biggest churches in Italy and is one of the most remarkable landmarks in the city, mainly because of its massive dome.
The cathedral’s dome is the largest brick dome that was ever constructed and marks an important turning point in European architecture, away from the medieval Gothic style and into the new Renaissance era. The structure was completed in 1436 and Its façade was completed 500 years after the main building was completed.
14. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It’s located right across the famous Rockefeller Center and is a remarkable landmark in a city that is dominated by skyscrapers. It’s one of the most famous churches in North America and is still the largest one as well.
Construction of the building started in the year 1858 and wasn’t completed until the year 1878, being halted by the Civil War for 4 years between 1861 and 1865. The church is designed in the neo-Gothic architectural style and serves as both the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, as well as its parish church.
15. Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral is also referred to as “Strasbourg Minster” and is a church that was initially started in the Romanesque architectural style but which is now considered to be one of the most prominent examples of the Rayonnant or French Gothic architecture.
It’s located in the east of France near the German border and was constructed between 1015 and 1439. It was the tallest building in the world for about 227 years between 1647 and 1874 and has a height of 142 meters (466 feet). It’s the highest structure in the world still standing that was completely constructed in the Middle Ages.
16. Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral, also known as the “Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres,” is another one of the most famous churches in the world located in France. It’s situated in the city of Chartres, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the southwest of Paris, and was built in a location that was occupied by at least 5 different cathedrals, of which this one is the fifth.
Even though the construction of the cathedral started around 1145 in the Romanesque architectural style, most parts of the church were completed between 1194 and 1220 in the Gothic architectural style. Chartres Cathedral is renowned for being in pristine condition regardless of its age and features multiple stained-glass windows dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries which are still intact.
17. Milan Cathedral
Milan Cathedral is located in the capital of the Lombardy Region in the north of Italy and the second-most populous city after Rome. The current cathedral was built in the same location as the original cathedral which was completed in the 4th century, and the entire city was built around this central site.
The cathedral is the 4th largest in the world and the second-largest church in Europe behind Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Vatican City. Construction of it started in the year 1386 and took an astounding 579 years to complete as the final touches were only completed in the year 1965. Because of this, it was completed in different architectural styles, dominated by the Gothic and Renaissance styles. These elements give the cathedral its distinctive appearance which has both been praised and questioned.
18. Santa Maria Delle Grazie
Santa Maria Delle Grazie is another famous church in Milan and was originally commissioned by the Duke of Milan in the early 1460s. The core structure was completed in 1469 but the entire church was only completed multiple decades later. The Basilica also had a dual purpose as it served as a Dominican Convent as well and was built in the Gothic architectural style.
Duke Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan in the 1490s and nicknamed “Il Moro,” hired Donato Bramante to expand the church and turn it into the burial place of the Sforza family. Bramante added the cloister, refectory, and an area with a wonderful dome in the Renaissance style. The Duke was also the patron of Leonardo da Vinci at the time and commissioned one of the most famous paintings in history, “The Last Supper,” which is located on the wall of this church’s refectory.
19. York Minster
York Minster is officially known as the “Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York” and is the cathedral of the city of York in the northeast of England. The church on the site was originally founded in the year 627 and the current magnificent Gothic structure was completed in the year 1472, the year that church was consecrated.
Some of the cathedral’s most remarkable features are the stained glass windows, and especially the Great East Window which was completed in 1408. This is considered to be the largest medieval stained glass window in the world. The other remarkable window is referred to as the Five Sisters Window of which each section is 16.3 meters (53 feet) high. With a length of 159.9 meters (524.5 feet) it’s also the second-largest Gothic church in northern Europe.
20. Barcelona Cathedral
Barcelona Cathedral is officially known as the “Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia” and is the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. This is opposed to the most famous church in Barcelona, the Sagrada Família, which is not actually a cathedral. The church was dedicated to the patron saint of Barcelona, Saint Eulalia, a young girl who was martyred during the Christian persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian in the early 4th century.
Most of the current structure was completed in the year 1339, which was the year that the church was consecrated. The cloister was only completed in the year 1449, though, which marked the end of the construction period of this fascinating building. This cloister is a popular attraction of the church because 13 white geese are wandering about in it. This number is a reference to the age of Eulalia when she died.
21. Las Lajas Sanctuary
The Las Lajas Sanctuary is often referred to as the “Las Lajas Shrine” and is officially known as the “National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Las Lajas” or “Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de las Lajas.” It’s located inside a canyon of the Guáitara River near the city of Ipiales in the Colombian Department of Nariño in the utmost southwestern corner of this South American country.
The neo-Gothic church was built in this spectacular location because of a presumed miracle that happened here in the year 1754. The Virgin Mary appeared to a woman and her daughter who were hiding from a storm, and shortly after, her image miraculously appeared on a rock. This rock still features this image of which nobody knows how it got there. Because of all these elements, this amazing church was chosen as one of the 7 Wonders of Colombia as well.
This concludes our list with the most famous churches in the world, a truly remarkable collection of historical buildings which have a remarkable and fascinating history!