Top 40 Breathtaking Cathedrals and Churches Around the World

Discover the 40 most breathtaking cathedrals and churches worldwide. Experience their unique architecture, rich history, and significance in this comprehensive guide.

Catholic cathedrals are among the most magnificent structures in the world, captivating people worldwide with their religious brilliance that transcends faith. From the stunning Santiago de Compostela to the iconic Notre Dame in Paris, the architectural splendor and historical significance of these age-old structures is undeniable. According to Wikipedia, there are over 3,700 Catholic cathedrals worldwide. In Catholic-majority countries, you’ll find 3,030 cathedrals, 306 co-cathedrals, and 44 pro-cathedrals. With centuries of weathering, it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Presenting the 40 most breathtaking cathedrals and churches:

40. Meteora Monasteries


Perched high in Central Greece’s Meteora lies a collection of Eastern Orthodox monasteries – a sight that is truly awe-inspiring. Though its establishment year remains shrouded in mystery, the Skete of Stagoi formed by the 11th and 12th centuries, attracting ascetics to the site. Slowly but surely, six monasteries were erected atop towering natural pillars, their significance ultimately earning them a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988.

39. Grundtvig Church


Located in Copenhagen, Denmark, the church construction commenced in 1921. Its foundation was laid that year, marking Grundtvig’s birthday. From 1921 to 1926, it was built showcasing the unique expressionist church architecture. The west facade features a towering bell tower, making it distinct from the rest of the city skyline.

The church interior houses two organs built in different times. First is a 1940 model, having 14 stops, two manuals, and a pedalboard. The second, built in 1965, is a larger instrument with 55 stops, four manuals, and a pedalboard.

38. Borgund Stave Church


The Stave Church at Borgund, situated in Norway, is a stunning piece of architecture built between 1180-1250. The church’s vertical wooden board walls, resembling a double-shelled Greek cross configuration, have been preserved and turned into a museum. Despite the new Borgund Church being constructed nearby in 1868, the Stave Church remains an important piece of history and was acquired by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1877.

37. Wieskirche


Situated in the picturesque town of Steingaden, Germany, is the Wieskirche – a stunning Rococo church with a rich history. Originally designed in the late 1740s, it underwent extensive restoration from 1985 to 1991. Today, this architectural marvel stands proud and was rightfully added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983.

36. St Patrick’s Cathedral


Built in 1878, this cathedral located in the heart of New York City quickly became an iconic symbol of Roman Catholicism in America. It underwent renovations in 1927 and 1931, and a major revitalization was carried out between 2012 and 2015. Today, it stands as an important monument to both architecture and faith in the bustling metropolis that is New York.

35. Subotica Synagogue


The Subotica Synagogue, built in 1902 during Austria-Hungary’s administration, is a striking art nouveau religious structure located in Subotica, Serbia. Its innovative design is a pioneering example of its time and remains a remarkable feat of architecture to this day.

34. Church of Mary Magdalene

Church of Mary Magdalene


Located in Jerusalem, Israel, this Russian Orthodox church was built by Tsar Alexander III in 1886. Its magnificent style takes inspiration from the traditional tented roofs of 16th- and 17th-century Russia.

33. Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano)


Milan’s cathedral, reputedly the largest in Italy, is an awe-inspiring marvel of architecture. Commencing its construction in 1386, six centuries of laborious work culminated in the magnificent edifice that stands today. The intricate sculptures adorning its roof are best appreciated up-close, and throughout the ages have attracted countless visitors from all over.

32. Santiago de Compostela


Located in Galicia, Spain, this cathedral has stood since 1075 AD. For centuries, it has served as a site of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James. So revered is its history and stunning architecture that it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

31. Washington National Cathedral


The edifice, dating back to 1907 and situated in Washington, D.C., is an exemplary Neo-Gothic structure markedly resembling the English Gothic style of the late fourteenth century. Erection of the building spanned from 1907 to 1990.

30. The Siena Cathedral


Standing gracefully in Siena, Italy, the cathedral dates back to 1263. Over a period of 48 years, it was artfully crafted with alternating strips of white and greenish-black marble, covering both interior and exterior.

29. St Paul’s Cathedral


Imposing and distinctive, St Paul’s Cathedral is an enduring icon of London. The 1697 structure boasts a grand dome that soars to a height of 365 feet, an awe-inspiring sight. For almost three centuries, it was the tallest structure in London, until 1967. Despite some fees on sightseeing, visitors can admire a free chapel, St Dunstan’s, which is open for personal prayers outside of scheduled services.

28. Church of the Transfiguration


The Church of the Transfiguration on Russia’s Kizhi Island is a stunning wooden cathedral. This 1714 structure, also known as a summer church, remains closed during the winter months due to a lack of heating. Despite harsh weather conditions, the cathedral, including its domes and roof shingles, was crafted entirely of wood, highlighting the art of Russian carpentry.

27. Gergeti Trinity Church


Nestled atop a steep mountain, the Gergeti Trinity Church stands as a national symbol of Georgia, built back in the 14th century.

Despite being a difficult 3-hour trek or a 30-minute jeep ride away, the church draws tourists from across the globe. Even during the Soviet era, when religious services were banned, the church still remained a popular attraction.

26. Cathedral of Brasília


Completed in 1960, the Brasília Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece. Its unique design involves 16 concrete columns resembling hands reaching towards the heavens. Every year, nearly a million visitors are captivated by its beauty. In 2012, the cathedral underwent extensive renovations, only adding to its grandeur.

25. Chapel of the Holy Cross


Situated in Sedona, Arizona, The Chapel of the Holy Cross draws inspiration from the iconic Empire State Building. The religious marvel, erected for a budget of just $300,000 in 1956, has since been recognized as one of Arizona’s Seven Man-Made Wonders.

24. León Cathedral


A true masterpiece of Gothic style, the León Cathedral in Spain was finished in the late 16th century. The cathedral boasts a vast collection of sacred art, with visitors having the opportunity to marvel at its magnificent 15th-century altarpiece and intricately sculpted cloister.

23. St. Basil’s Cathedral


St. Basil’s Cathedral, constructed in Moscow, Russia between 1555–61, is renowned for its vibrant colors. Although it is located outside the Kremlin, it is often regarded as a symbol of Russia in the western media. The church was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

22. Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière


Located in Lyon, France, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière was erected between 1872 and 1884, and offers breathtaking vistas of the city. Appropriately nicknamed “the upside-down elephant,” the structure’s silhouette is nothing short of magnificent. It attracts approximately 2 million visitors each year.

21. Winchester Cathedral


Completed in the early 16th century, Winchester Cathedral is one of Europe’s grandest. Its spacious nave is awe-inspiring, and it has served as a film location for The Da Vinci Code, among others.

20. Nidaros Cathedral


Nidaros Cathedral, in Trondheim Norway, stands tall as an emblem of medieval era. Beginning in the early 1070s and taking almost two centuries, it was built on the burial site of Saint Olav. The impressive cathedral is home to splendid twin organs and is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world.

19. The Church of Mary the Queen or Our Lady of the Lake

Our Lady of the Lake, also known as the Church of Mary the Queen, stands serene on a small island in Slovenia’s Lake Bled. One of its biggest draws is the 1534 bell of wishes. You can visit the island by Pletna boat, rowboat rental, or even a swim.

18. St. Peter’s Church


St. Peter’s Church in Riga, Latvia is a parish church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, boasting a rich history dating back to 1209. Through the centuries, the edifice has witnessed the rise and fall of architectural styles, encompassing Gothic, Romanesque, and early Baroque periods.

17. Hagia Sophia


Since its construction in 537 AD, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey has served various religious roles. Its iconic dome is widely considered a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, exuding magnificence and exemplifying the ingenuity and skill of its creators.

16. St. Stephen’s Cathedral


The iconic multicolored tile roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria has been captivating spectators since its construction in 1147. A historical gem, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Vienna.

15. Hallgrímskirkja


Rising 244 feet high, Hallgrímskirkja is Iceland’s largest church. Though it was constructed over 75 years ago in 1945, its magnificence transcends time. The church is aptly named after renowned poet, Hallgrímur Pétursson, and stands as a symbol of Iceland’s rich cultural heritage.

14. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus


The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, a Gothic treasure in Prague, Czech Republic, not only serves as the Archbishop’s seat but also stands as the largest church in the nation. Its grandeur and charm captivate visitors from far and wide.

13. Westminster Abbey


Westminster Abbey, a London-based historical landmark, has witnessed 16 royal weddings since 1100. Its walls have stood the test of time, bearing witness to centuries of significant events and milestones.

12. Le Mont Saint-Michel


Le Mont Saint-Michel, a remarkable island fortress located in Normandy, France, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws over three million visitors annually. Its awe-inspiring views and rich history make it a must-see destination for travelers from all around the world.

11. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral


The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria is a marvel of Neo-Byzantine architecture and a popular tourist spot in the city. Its ornate design and grandeur make it a must-visit destination, over the world to witness its beauty.

10. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

Most Beautiful Cathedral - Germany's Cologne Cathedral

The magnificent Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) in Germany ranks as the country’s fourth-largest, and stands tall as a prominent national landmark.

9. Notre-Dame de Chartres

Most Beautiful Cathedral - Chartres

Located in Chartres, France, Notre-Dame de Chartres is an exquisite masterpiece of French High Gothic architecture. One of its remarkable features is its stunning stained-glass windows, which are famed for their intricate beauty.

8. La Catedral de Sevilla

Most Beautiful Cathedrals Seville

Seville’s Gothic marvel, La Catedral de Sevilla, is a masterpiece from the 15th century that boasts the world’s largest altar, alongside the resting place of Christopher Columbus.

7. Sainte-Chapelle

Most Beautiful Cathedral St Chapelle

Located in the heart of Paris, France, Sainte-Chapelle is renowned for its exquisite stained glass artwork that lights up the chapel, bathing it in a kaleidoscope of colours. This incredible masterpiece was built by none other than King Louis IX, adding to its rich historical significance. (

6. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Most Beautiful Cathedral Il Duomo

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a Florentine sanctuary, is revered for its colossal dome, the most notable since the addition of Saint Peter’s Basilica in 1615.

5. La Sagrada Familia

Most Beautiful Cathedral - Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s Art Nouveau basilica, La Sagrada Familia, is a masterpiece designed by Antoni Gaudi. Despite being under construction, the architectural wonder is set to be completed in 2026.

4. Notre-Dame de Reims

Most Beautiful Cathedral, Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims


Re, France boasts the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral – a historic site where French monarchs were coronated. This magnificent structure dates back to the end of the 13th century and is a symbol of Gothic architecture at its finest.

3. Notre Dame

Most Beautiful Cathedral: Notre Dame

Notre Dame, the iconic monument of Paris, France, stands as an immaculate specimen of French Gothic architecture. Ornate gargoyles and towering spires only begin to scratch the surface of its intricate beauty and remarkable history.

2. Basilica San Marco, Venice, Italy

Most Beautiful Cathedral Venice

Located in Saint Mark’s Square, the Basilica San Marco in Venice, Italy, is an exquisite blend of Byzantine and Western architectural styles, harmoniously fusing together to create a stunning masterpiece. Adorned with breathtaking mosaic-covered domes and boasting an enchanting ambiance, it’s a must-visit destination for architecture enthusiasts and tourists alike.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica

Most beautiful Cathedrals - St. Peters

Behold Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece – St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Italy – one of the largest churches worldwide with a capacity of 20,000.

Most Beautiful Cathedrals - Saint Peters


Don’t miss the Sistine Chapel. There, marvel at the frescoes sharing the story of humanity, painted over 4 years by Michelangelo. The infamous ceiling, depicting the creation of Man, is more than a 500-year-old ceiling – it’s one of the world’s most esteemed treasures.

Most Beautiful Cathedral - Michelangelo's Creation of Man

Did we miss any? With over 3,000 options to choose from, it was tough to narrow down our top picks. Would you like to witness more beauty? Hit the next button to discover the most breathtaking places worldwide.