The World's Most Beautiful Churches
You don't need to be religious to feel awe when entering one of the world's most beautiful churches. The incredible architecture and detail put into these buildings make them much more than places of worship.
Many of the churches are even a testament to the strength and creativity of people. When you see gilded archways, painstakingly placed mosaics and intricate stained-glass windows in buildings that date back several centuries, you can't help but wonder exactly how these magnificent places have stood the test of time.
Here, we show you — and invite you inside — the world's most beautiful churches.
Duomo di Milano – Milan
Standing before Milan's central cathedral, you'll feel quite small because it's massive.
Construction on the Gothic-style cathedral began in 1386 with Milan's ruler Gian Galeazzo Visconti wanting a building that would show as a grand city. The nave was completed in 1418, when the massive marble building was consecrated, but construction continued for more than 200 years, involving thousands of sculptors, artists and workers. In fact, it's still not completely finished.
Inside the Duomo di Milano
- The Duomo is the world's fifth-largest Christian church and covers an entire city block.
- It is decorated with 135 gargoyles, 700 figures and 3,400 statues. More statues adorn the cathedral than any other building in the world.
- A sundial on the floor of the main entrance receives sunlight from a hole on a wall and was placed in 1768 by astronomers. So precise is this ancient sundial that it is still used to regulate clocks today.
La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona
Another church that's famously still under construction, long after artist Antoni Gaudí began work on the uniquely designed cathedral in 1882, Barcelona's unfinished church sees more than 4.5 million visitors annually.
Gaudí spent 43 years working on this cathedral (considered his obsession) before his untimely death. His vision was inspired by nature, and the church was consecrated as a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
Inside La Sagrada Familia
- When Gaudí died, only one tower, the crypt, the apse walls and one portal were complete.
- Inside, a "forest" holds up the ceiling, with colorful pillars angled and reaching up with "branches" to create the appearance of a canopy of trees.
- There are 17 towers: 12 representing the Apostles, one representing the Virgin Mary and four representing evangelists.
St. Basil's Cathedral – Moscow
Moscow's colorful cathedral began and ended construction in the mid-1500s under Russia's first Tsar, Ivan the Terrible.
It's official name was the Church of the Intercession or the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat. However, its current name comes from Basil the Blessed, a prophet who was buried in the cathedral when he died in 1557.
Inside St. Basil's Cathedral
- The bright colors of St. Basil were not added to the cathedral until the 17th century. (Originally, it was white with gold domes.)
- There is a replica of this cathedral 3,200 miles west of Moscow, near the China border.
- It is said Ivan the Terrible blinded the architect who created the cathedral, so it could never be replicated.
Notre-Dame Basilica – Montreal
While not as old as the more famous Notre-Dame of Paris, many consider the Montreal Notre-Dame to be more beautiful, with an interior that practically bounces the color blue in every direction.
The cathedral mimics the dual towers of Paris, but inside, the 17th-century, Gothic-style building's stained-glass windows tell the story of the building's 350-plus years. The windows were added in 1929.
Inside Notre-Dame Basilica
- The pipe organ features 7,000 pipes.
- Although the exterior is meant to mimic Paris' Notre-Dame, the interior's vaulted blue and gold-leaf ceiling mimics Paris' Sainte-Chapelle.
- The only person buried in the crypt is the church architect, James O'Donnell.
Sainte-Chapelle – Paris
Located near Notre-Dame in Paris, behind the secured walls of the Palais de la Cité, awaits a small, yet magnificent church originally built by King Louis IX to house his religious relics.
There are two different chapels with their own looks. Begin on the lower level, where a vaulted ceiling features gold-leaf beams and a royal blue "sky." Then, make your way to the upper level, where 15 towering stained-glass windows depict the story of the Bible and date back to the 13th century!
- One of the original religious relics kept in the chapel was the Crown of Thorns.
- There are 1,113 biblical figures represented in 14 of the 15 stained-glass windows. The last window features the history the relics once kept here.
- The rose window was added to the chapel in the 15th century.
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Munich
Known as Herz Jesu Kirche, this cubic church was built to celebrate the start of a new millennium. Its front doors made of windows open wide to welcome people to church.
Within the glass box awaits a wooden box, as the interior is made with maple, slatted so light can enter the church throughout the day.
Inside the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
- There are more than 2,000 vertical wood louvres to help increase the amount of sunlight directed to the altar.
- The altar's metal-fabric curtain reveals a church.
- There are 436 glass panels bearing nail images that are arranged to feature the Passion of Christ.
St. Peter's Basilica – Vatican City
The crown of Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica took nearly a century to build (from 1506-1615) and is the church of the popes.
The basilica replaced a former church of the same name, with an altar that rests over the shrine to St. Peter the Apostle.
Inside Saint Peter's Basilica
- Michelangelo became the chief architect in 1546, carrying the work through until his death in 1564.
- Michelangelo and other artists of the Renaissance provided works to decorate the basilica.
- It was the largest Christian church until 1989.
The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood – St. Petersburg
Although it is often mistaken as St. Basil's in Moscow, the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg is its own right.
The church began its construction in 1883, hundreds of years after its Moscow cousin, and opened its doors in 1907. Its design was considered outdated but was demanded by Tsar Alexander III.
Inside the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood
- Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by a bomb on the site two years before ground was broken to build the church.
- There are more than 72,000 square feet of mosaics decorating the church.
- The building rarely served as a church and today is more a museum than a place of worship.
St. Michael's Cathedral – Kiev, Ukraine
Named for the patron saint of Kiev, this striking blue and gold-domed church dates back to 1108 A.D., although the cathedral was rebuilt in the 1990s after years of disrepair.
Original remains and relics that were lost to Russia during its Communist holding of the city are now being restored and returned to help bring this historic site back to its full heyday.
Inside St. Michael's Cathedral
- The cathedral stands on the site of the oldest monastery in the Ukraine/Russia.
- The interior mosaics were rescued and returned to the cathedral after its reconstruction.
- It was the first church with golden domes in ancient Rus and is often called the Golden-Domed Cathedral.
The Pilgrimage Church of Wies – Steingaden, Germany
From the exterior, this Bavarian church may not have the same style of some of the other more ornate churches on this list, but it is the inside that spreads the beauty of the Pilgrimage Church of Wies.
Built for pilgrims in the Alps, it was constructed in the mid-1700s on the site of a miracle. It is said a wooden figure of Christ shed actual tears, bringing the pilgrims to bear witness.
Inside the Pilgrimage Church of Wies
- The interior's colorful and intricate detailing includes painted ceilings, statues and golden trim.
- The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognized as an example of Bavarian Rococo architecture.
- The church is located near Neuschwanstein Castle, also referred to as Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
Hallgrimskirkja – Reykjavik, Iceland
The tallest building in Reykjavik, Hallgrimskirkja is more than 250 feet at its tallest point and is named for the Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson.
Construction on the church began in 1945 and was completed in 1986, although consecrated in 1974 — 24 years after its architect passed away.
- The church was designed in 1937, but construction was delayed due to World War II.
- Hallgrímur Pétursson wrote the Passion Hymns, a collection of 50 hymns sung in Iceland during Lent.
- The building's design was meant to match the lava-formed landscape of Iceland.
Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – San Diego
This Mormon church, known as the San Diego California Temple, is just one example of the impressive temples operated by the church. Dedicated in 1993, the San Diego church is 72,000 square feet in size.
An aerial view would show the main building is star-shaped, with the two twin towers flanking two ends.
Inside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- The star shape is the Seal of Melchizdek, an eight-point star that appears 10,000 times on this temple.
- The towers stand 169-feet high.
- One spire is topped with the Angel Moroni statue, who serves as the guardian of the golden plates, the source of the Book of Mormon.
Basilica of the National Vow – Quito, Ecuador
Shown here illuminated for Quito's Festival of Light, the Basilica of the National Vow is the tallest neogothic church in South America.
Its hilltop location means the people of Quito can see it from every location. Yes, it does bear a slight resemblance to Notre-Dame in Paris — on purpose for the cathedral that broke ground in 1892.
Inside the Basilica of the National Vow
- There are 24 chapels inside — one for each province in Ecuador.
- Gargoyles resemble turtles, iguanas and other animals of the Galapagos.
- The church is not actually finished, and locals joke the world will end when construction is finally complete.
Cologne Cathedral – Germany
Northern Europe's largest Gothic church rises 515 feet above the city of Cologne and the Rhine River.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral was consecrated in 1322, although construction continued into the late 1800s.
Inside the Cologne Cathedral
- The church was the tallest structure in the world until the Washington Monument dethroned it in 1884.
- Medieval windows from the church were removed and hidden during World War II to keep them preserved. (It worked!)
- The Shrine of the Three Kings is said to hold relics of the Magi who visited Jesus at his birth.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida – Brasilia, Brazil
Built in Brazil's capital city between 1958 and 1970, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida is certainly a more contemporary church on our list.
Sixteen arched pillars form a crown of thorn with a central nave covered in blue, green, white and brown stained glass. Angel sculptures float above as well.
Inside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida
- The church was the first monument built in Brasilia.
- A reflecting pool encircles the cathedral, with a tunnel that takes people under the pool to enter the church.
- Four bells from Spain are held within the bell tower, separate from the main building.
Church of Mary Magdalene – Jerusalem
It is hard to miss the seven gilded domes that make up Jerusalem's Church of Mary Magdalene, especially at night when illuminated by flood flights.
If it looks like the churches of Russia that is because the church and its convent were built to house Russian Orthodox nuns. It was built in 1888 by Tsar Alexander III.
Inside the Church of Mary Magdalene
- Queen Elizabeth II's mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Greece, is buried in the crypt.
- An icon of the Virgin Mary from the 16th century is said to have miraculous powers.
- The facade is made with white sandstone, not marble, as some would think.
National Cathedral – Washington, D.C.
One of the world's 10th largest cathedrals can be found in Washington, D.C. Although constructed in the Gothic style leading some to believe it is as old as some churches in Europe, construction on the National Cathedral began in 1907 and was completed in 1990.
The medieval resemblance doesn't end there: A labyrinth on the nave floor is based on France's Chartres Cathedral.
Inside the National Cathedral
- President Theodore Roosevelt set the cathedral's first stone, and President George H.W. Bush set the last.
- Seven presidents' memorial services were held here, along with the funerals of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.
- Moon rock brought back by Apollo 11 is found in a stained-glass window called the Space Window.
Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel – Colorado Springs, Colorado
When you are home to cadets who will take off into the wild blue yonder, a traditional chapel will just not do. Instead, the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel looks like something out of this world, with wings pointing to the sky made of aluminum, glass and steel.
The non-denomination chapel was constructed in 1959, featuring 17 spires that stretch 150-feet high. It's currently under renovation until 2023.
Inside the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel
- The chapel is the No. 1 man-made structure visited in Colorado.
- There are three levels, and the chapel can fit five different religious services at once, each with their own entry.
- The original chapel design was to feature 21 spires, but budget restricted it to just 17.
Church of St. George – Lalibela, Ethiopia
It may not be a jaw-dropper in terms of architectural elements and style, but this "Eighth Wonder of the World" will definitely leave you agape when you see it in person.
Cut directly out of rock with an entry made through a tunnel, the Church of St. George dates back to the late 12th or early 13th century under Zagwe King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela. Carved out of 82 feet of volcanic rock in the shape of a cross, this site is a place of pilgrimage and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Inside the Church of St. George
- There were 11 rock-carved churches built in Ethiopia during medieval times.
- Caves within the grounds house priests and are used for burials.
- There are 18 windows and three doors to the rock church.
Chapel of the Holy Cross – Sedona, Arizona
Not to be outdone, this Arizona church was built into the red rocks of Sedona. Built with the cross serving as the main structure, the church was completed in 1956.
Parishioners inside may enjoy the views from the 250-foot-high stones with four floor-to-ceiling views.
Inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross
- The cross of the facade of the church is 90-feet tall.
- The church was designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.
- The church can be found in the Coconino National Forest.
St. Mark's Church – Zagreb, Croatia
It may not be as large as some of the churches on this list, but this 13th-century church remains charming thanks to its colorful tiled roof. In red, white and blue, the coat of arms for Croatia's Dalmatia and Slavonia (left) and Zagreb (right) has been a welcoming fixture since installed in 1880.
The fully operational church is only open for mass, so the only way to enjoy the interior is to attend a service.
Inside of St. Mark's Church
- The church is one of Zagreb's oldest buildings.
- The church has experienced many fires and earthquake damage and has received numerous renovations.
- The church houses artwork by Croatian artists.
Westminister Abbey, London
While the original abbey dated back to 960 A.D., King Henry III is responsible for the Gothic church of London that stands today.
The church of the Sovereign has been the location of the coronation of the kings and queens of England since 1066.
Inside Westminister Abbey
- Seventeen British monarchs are entombed here.
- Seventeen royal weddings have been held here, including that of Prince William.
- More than 100 poets and writers have had memorials and burials here, including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.
Church of the Transfiguration – Kizhi Island, Russia
Unlike the Russian gold-domed churches appearing earlier on our list, the Church of the Transfiguration is built entirely from wood! Located on an island on Lake Onega, all 22 domes were built out of wood more than 300 years ago.
No one is sure who built the church. It was built at the site of a former church that had burned down and now is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Inside the Church of the Transfiguration
- The church bell was forbidden during the Soviet era and remained silent from 1929 to 1989.
- The island is a museum and open-air school during the summer.
- Shh. Don't tell anyone, but there are nails in the domes.
Las Lajas Sanctuary – Nariño, Colombia
This church is built into the sedimentary rock of a deep river canyon in Colombia. The inspiration to create a sanctuary here came after a woman and her daughter had to hide from a bad storm in the mid-1700s.
What began as a shrine to Virgin Mary eventually led to the building of the chapel, completed in 1802. The building standing today, a Gothic Revival, was built between 1916 and 1949.
Las Lajas Sanctuary Interior
- A 160-foot-tall bridge connects the church to the other side of Guaitara canyon.
- "Laja" is the name of the rock found here.
- The common name of the church translates into "a miracle of God in the abyss."
St. Peter and Paul Church at Melk Abbey – Austria
Situated above the Danube River between Vienna and Salzburg, Melk Abbey was built between 1702 and 1736.
A stopping point for the royal family traveling between the cities, the abbey had to be as grand as a palace, evident even today in its Baroque styling and decor, featuring beautiful frescoes.
Inside St. Peter and Paul Church at Melk Abbey
- The abbey is a co-ed monastery school.
- The abbey's church is embellished with marble and frescoes.
- The Benedictine monastery community of this location goes back 900 years.
Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ – Shipka, Bulgaria
Hidden in Central Bulgaria is the Shipka Pass and the town of the same name. As a pass, when battles were waged, this was a location where soldiers gathered. To honor those battles, Shipka is home to numerous monuments.
The Birth of Christ Church is one such memorial erected for the Russian and Bulgarian fighters who kept Turkey away during the Russian-Turkish War and liberated Bulgaria.
Inside the Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ
- The church opened in 1902, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the battle
- The church bells were made from cartridges collected after the battle.
- Those who died in the battle are entombed in the church's crypt.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes – Canela, Brazil
Also called the Cathedral of Stone, this English Gothic-style church is a new church in southwestern Brazil, completed in 1987.
Inside, a wood-carved altar depicts the Last Supper, with stained-glass windows around the church representing the Virgin Mary.
Inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes
- Brazil named this church one of its Seven Wonders in 2010.
- The tower stands 213-feet tall and holds 12 bells.
- Pablo Herrera, a Uruguayan sculptor and restorer of Sacred Art, created the cathedral's paintings of Via Sacra.
Basilica Sacre-Coeur – Paris
As iconic to Paris' skyline as the Eiffel Tower, the Basilica Sacre-Coeur is the second-highest point in the city, resting atop the hill of Montmartre.
The church was built in this location to give the people something to look to for light following the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Construction began in 1875, and it was completed in 1914. World War I delayed its consecration, which came in 1919.
Inside the Basilica Sacre-Coeur
- The church's white stone releases calcite when it rains, essentially cleaning itself after every shower.
- The church stands nearly 700 feet above sea level.
- To climb to the top of the dome, you will need to ascend 300 narrow, spiraling stairs.
Christ Cathedral – Garden Grove, California
A glass church in the heart of Southern California is so modern its 1980 opening date shouldn't surprise you. Its purpose was to have a church "open to the sky and the surrounding world."
The more than 10,000 mirrored glass panes make up what was first called Crystal Cathedral and was home to televangelist Robert Schuller. But since the Catholic Church took over in 2012, it was renamed Christ Cathedral.
Inside the Crystal Cathedral
- You can see Disneyland from the top of the church.
- It was used for Schuller's "Hour of Power" TV show, featuring acrobats and live animals.
- The tower stands 128-feet tall.
The Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption – Bled, Slovenia
A church has been situated on this island in Lake Bled since the 9th century. But the current church was built in the 17th century.
You'll have to take a boat to the island, then climb 99 stone steps to reach the church, one of the most-visited attractions in Slovenia.
Inside the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption
- Before there was a church, the island was home to a temple dedicated to the Slavic goddess of love and fertility, Ziva.
- A Plenta is a wooden gondola-like boat that takes visitors to the island — but you are welcome to swim to it as well.
- If you ring the bell of the tower three times and make a wish, it is believed your wish will come true.
Borgund Stave Church, Norway
One of the oldest churches found in Norway, Borgund Stave Church dates back to 1180 A.D. Stave churches are timber-framed buildings from northwestern Europe's medieval period.
The church was built and dedicated to the Apostle Andrew.
Inside Borgund Stave Church
- The roof features four dragon heads, such as those found on ancient Viking boats.
- The church has carvings from Norse mythology as well as Christianity.
- Continuous columns rise to support the structure from within.
Trinity Church – Boston
A National Historic Landmark, Trinity Church is located in the heart of Boston's Back Bay and Copley Square, with towering skyscrapers surrounding it.
Built in the 1870s, the church was constructed over newly filled marshland at its beginnings!
Inside Trinity Church
- Trinity Church is one of the American Institute of Architects' "Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States" — the only church on the list.
- To stay strong above the marsh, the church put 4,000 wooden piles beneath it.
- Its red roof is made of clay tiles.
Monastery of Hozoviotissa – Amorgos, Greece
You may find charming white churches across the Greek isles, but on Amorgos — in the Cyclades — you can see a monastery built into the face of the island.
Constructed in the 11th century, Hozoviotissa houses a chapel at its highest level. Inside are religious relics dating back centuries.
Inside the Monastery of Hozoviotissa
- The church is the second-oldest in Greece.
- There are eight stories built into the rock.
- The monastery is 131 feet tall.
St. Vitus Cathedral – Prague
Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral is within the confines of Prague Castle and was the site of Czech coronations during the centuries it was ruled by royalty.
Construction began in 1344 and stretched into the 15th century. War, fire and destruction affected the cathedral for several centuries until it was finally completed in 1929.
St. Vitus Cathedral interior
- You have to climb nearly 300 stairs to reach the top of the cathedral's tallest towers: the clock tower.
- The cathedral's clock tower can be seen from all over Prague.
- The crypt holds the remains of royalty, including King Charles IV.
St. Patrick's Cathedral – New York City
The largest of the Gothic churches to be built in America, St. Patrick's was open to the people of New York City in 1879.
Located on Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's takes up an entire city block.
Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral
- The twin spirals at the front of the cathedral stand 330-feet high.
- There are 21 altars and 19 bells in the church — and each is named for a saint.
- The church organ, replaced in 1930, has 7,855 pipes.
St. Paul's Cathedral – London
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who had a hand in much of London's most splendid architecture, St. Paul's Cathedral features one of the largest domes in the world.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles walked down the aisle in this church, which stands on consecrated ground that has served as a religious site since 604 A.D.
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral
- A whisper can be heard from across the dome due to its special design — whisper into the wall and the sound will carry to a friend waiting at the opposite side.
- Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon here in 1964.
- Famous people buried here include the famous Scottish physician and microbiologist, Sir Alexander Fleming, who invented penicillin.
St. John Cantius – Chicago
It may not carry the size of some of the other churches on this list, but stepping into this Polish-founded church is a real treat.
Designed to resemble Krakow, Poland's architecture from the 18th century, St. John Cantius has stood its ground here since 1898.
Inside St. John Cantius
- The Polish cathedral is the closest of its kind to Chicago's Magnificent Mile.
- Its tower stands 130-feet tall.
- The church is the mother of all Polish churches in the city.
St. Patrick's Cathedral – Dublin
Built on a site that St. Patrick himself is said to have used, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin is the tallest church in Ireland as well as the country's National Cathedral.
The Gothic-style building is more than 800 years old, completed in 1191 A.D.
Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral
- The Door of Reconciliation stands here where feuding earls of Kildare and Ormond shook hands to end a battle in 1492.
- A state pew is reserved for the President of Ireland, which still bears the British Standard on its front carving.
- The cathedral was home to the Knights of St. Patrick from 1783 through 1871.
Standing with the tallest church spire in all of the U.K., Salisbury Cathedral is 404-feet tall, and visitors can tour its wood scaffolding that dates back more than 750 years.
Within the octagonal-shaped chapter house of the church awaits one of four original copies of the Magna Carta. It rests below Bible scenes painted on the walls and ceiling.
Inside Salisbury Cathedral
- Christopher Wren had a hand in building this church, too.
- The church is located near Stonehenge.
- The world's oldest clock, dating back to 186 A.D., is housed here.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine – New York
If you think St. Patrick's the church to visit in New York City, then perhaps you haven't yet heard of St. John the Divine in the Upper West Side? Sitting on more than 11 acres of land, it's one of the largest Anglican cathedrals in the world.
Church construction began on St. John's Day in 1892 and continued through both World Wars. So much work still occurs that its nickname is "St. John the Unfinished."
Inside Cathedral of St. John the Divine
- The church was originally going to be built with Byzantine and Romanesque Revival but was changed to Gothic Revival in 1909.
- The dome stands at 162-feet tall.
- Its 15th-century choir stalls from Germany are on permanent loan from the MET.
Notre Dame Cathedral – Strasbourg, France
It took more than 400 years to construct Strasbourg's own Notre Dame, which began construction in 1015 A.D. Once it was complete, it was the world's biggest cathedral, and even the likes of famed French author Victor Hugo considered the church a "marvel."
The Alsace-region cathedral features a 472-foot-tall bell tower and a design that is purely Gothic.
Inside Notre Dame Strasbourg
- Between 1647 and 1874, the cathedral was the world's tallest.
- The French and German police thwarted an Al-Qaeda Christmastime bombing of the church in 2000.
- During the French Revolution, the church was a Temple of Treason.
Siena Cathedral – Siena, Italy
Although there are those who say Florence's Duomo is the most beautiful in all of Italy, they may not have witnessed the multicolored marble Siena Cathedral.
Construction on this masterpiece began in 1229 but came to a blinding halt in 1348 when the Black Death took 80 percent of the city's population. What remains is the unfinished cathedral — just imagine if it had reached its full potential!
Inside Siena Cathedral
- There are 35 statues of prophets and patriarchs on the cathedral's facade.
- Its oldest bell was cast in 1149 A.D.
- The church's black and white columns are the colors of Siena's Coat of Arms.
Basilica of the Holy Blood – Bruges, Belgium
Entering this small church in the town of Bruges, is like stepping back into the 12th century when this served as the Count of Flanders' private chapel.
On the ground level of the Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Romanesque design — one of the best preserved of its kind standing relatively unchanged since its creation. Upstairs is a Gothic design connecting the two chapels with a brick staircase that was rebuilt in the 19th century. It is said the church received its name for having the preserved blood of Christ within the chapel.
Inside Basilica of the Holy Blood
- The church was deemed a minor basilica in 1923.
- The ground level is dedicated to St. Basil.
- The blood of Christ, wiped onto a cloth, is sealed in a crystal vial that dates back to the 11th century.
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace – Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire
Bigger than St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, which it's designed to look like, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is the world's largest church. Constructed between 1985 and 1989 for a whopping $300 million, Pope John Paul II visited the church in 1990 and deemed it a minor basilica.
Not to outshine the Vatican, the church was purposely built shorter than St. Peter's dome.
Inside Basilica of Our Lady of Peace
- The church has only filled its 16,000-seat capacity once since it opened.
- It is called by its French name, Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix.
- The likeness of the country's first president, who commissioned the church, can be found in a stained-glass window.