How Many of These 40 Most Beautiful Cathedrals (And Churches) in the World Have You Seen?

From Istanbul’s Blue Mosque to Paris’s Notre Dame, religious monuments have awed and amazed the masses for thousands of years, no matter the religion.

According to Wikipedia, there are 3,380 Catholic cathedrals in the world: 3,030 cathedrals 306 Co-cathedrals, and 44 Pro-cathedrals, predominantly in countries with a significant Roman Catholic population, including Italy, Brazil, the United States, India, France, Mexico and Spain. With many of these establishments being around for hundreds of years, it can be hard to pick a favorite. We’ve gathered the top 40 most beautiful cathedrals (and churches) in the world:

40.) Meteora Monasteries

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  • Location: Thessaly, Greece
  • Year built: Unknown
  • Designated as world heritage site: 1988

This rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The exact date of the establishment of the monasteries is unknown. By the late 11th and early 12th centuries, a rudimentary monastic state had formed called the Skete of Stagoi and was centered around the still-standing church of Theotokos (mother of God).

By the end of the 12th century, an ascetic community had flocked to Meteora. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. Meteora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria I, II, IV, V and VII.