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25 Most Beautiful Cathedrals in the World

By Anca Nicolescu


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Most Beautiful Cathedrals
Florence Cathedral / Photo by Andrea Spallanzani / pixabay.com

This world is full of SO many amazing places of worship. There are literally thousands of churches and cathedrals in the Christian world, and it is hard to say which one is the most beautiful.

They are all special in their own way, and their intricate details often took more than 100 years to make, with dedicated craftsmanship and incredible skills from thousands of people across different centuries. 

Awe-inspiring both inside and out, these magnificent landmarks are not just religious structures, they are also part of the global history, architectural wonders that say a lot about each country’s unique culture. 

The cathedral is a church where the deacon hosts his seat, and comprises a main altar and a few chapels. They are typically arranged in the shape of a cross, but not always. 

Boasting exquisite artworks, stained glass windows, and breathtaking sculptures, these astounding edifices are a must see. 

Whether you consider yourself to be a religious person or not, visiting a cathedral is worth your while. You can’t help but feel some sort of spirituality while visiting. They are very photogenic and rather spectacular religious places of worship. 

The buildings range in style from concrete modernism, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia in Brazil, or the medieval gothic of Notre Dame in Paris. 

If you have yet witnessed the magnificent beauty of a cathedral in person, maybe this list will inspire you to put it on your bucket list.

Come join us for a virtual tour of the 25 most beautiful cathedrals in the world.

25. Saint Basil’s Cathedral – Moscow, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow / Photo By Reidl / stock.adobe.com

Construction of this fabulous cathedral started back in 1555 under the infamous tsar, Ivan the Terrible. It is also known as the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, and it sits in the middle of the Red Square in Moscow. It was the city’s largest place of worship for centuries, but since the Bolshevik years it hasn’t been used as a religious site.

Today it is mostly a museum, although from time to time they do hold the occasional Russian Orthodox services. 

24. Seville Cathedral – Seville, Spain

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral / Photo by Henrique Ferreira / unsplash.com

The largest gothic church ever constructed, the Seville cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 15th century, it replaced an adapted former mosque which had served many Christian conquerors of Spain.

Full of ornate stonework, the cathedral contains 80 chapels for worship. It still has a remnant 105-meter tall bell tower from the 12th century mosque. 

23. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – New York, USA

St. Patrick’s Cathedral New York
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York / Photo by Joseph Barrientos / unsplash.com

Completed in 1878, St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York is set amidst the soaring skyscrapers of Manhattan. Boasting an impressive Neo-Gothic architecture, its two elegant spires lie on either side of a rose stained glass window.

The huge Pieta statute is the highlight of the interior, as well as some fine artworks and altars worth visiting. 

22. Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Sofia, Bulgaria

Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia / Photo by Deensel / wikipedia.org

A Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox cathedral, it contains the relics of the medieval warrior Alexander Nevsky, the Kievan Prince of Novgorod. Built from 1882 until 1912, this structure contains Italian marble on the interior, as well as many other luxurious furnishings.

Visitors can find a vast collection of Orthodox icons inside the crypt, which is part of the National Art Gallery of Bulgaria.

21. Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi – Tbilisi, Georgia

Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi / Photo by Cem OZER / shutterstock.com

Commonly known as Tsminda Sameba, the imposing Holy Trinity cathedral sits on St. Elija’s hill in Tbilisi. A symbol of the country’s independence, it was completed in 2001.

The workmanship is amazing, boasting richly decorated mosaics and icons of Georgian faith. Its carved arches and towers can be seen from anywhere in the city. 

20. Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul / Photo by Nate Hovee / stock.adobe.com

A former patriarchal basilica then an imperial mosque, Hagia Sophia is now a museum that attracts many visitors every year. Construction started in 537, and it completed work in 1453.

During those years, it served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Officially, it became a museum in February of 1935. 

19. Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral – Helsinki, Finland

Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral
Uspenski Cathedral in Helsinki / By Grigory Bruev / stock.adobe.com

Dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, or the Virgin Mary, this Eastern Orthodox cathedral is located in the capital of Finland. Designed by Russian architect Aleksey Gornosatyev, the church was built after his death, from 1862-1868.

It is named after the old Slavonic name Uspenie, which stands for Dormition. 

18. Hallgrimskirkja Church – Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral
Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavic / Photo by Yves Alarie / unsplash.com

Consecrated in 1986, this modern cathedral is inspired by Icelandic traditions. Construction began in 1954, and it took 38 years to complete. With a 73 meter tower, the design by architect Gudjon Samuelson was commissioned in 1937.

His design was meant to resemble the basalt lava flows that are common in Iceland’s landscape. 

17. Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral – Yerevan, Armenia

Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan / Photo by EdNurg / stock.adobe.com

 Constructed by the initiative of Catholicos Vazgen I, it is one of the newest churches on our list. Also known as the Cathedral of Yerevan, Saint Gregory the Illuminator is the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church worldwide.

The complex consists of three churches, totaling about 2,000 seats. Built in traditional Armenian architectural style, it is the most visited church in the country. 

16. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – Galicia, Spain

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela / Photo by Formatoriginal / stock.adobe.com

Initially constructed in the 11th century, this Romanesque structure lies along the Way of Saint James. The ancient pilgrimage route is still popular today, as it has been for centuries.

Built over the relics of St. James, it resulted in pilgrims following the route to reach this holy site. Remains of medieval kings as well as other relics can be found on this historic site. 

15. The Cathedral of Saint Sava – Belgrade, Serbia

The Cathedral of Saint Sava
The Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade / serbia.com

A Serbian Orthodox church, the Temple of Saint Sava is located on the Vracar plateau in Belgrade. One of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, it stands in the middle of the city, with its large dome and four apses.

A great landmark of the country, the interior design is exquisite, featuring gold mosaics. 

14. Basilica of the National Vow – Quito, Ecuador

Basilica of the National Vow
Basilica of the National Vow in Quito / Photo by Maros M r a z / wikipedia.org

This Roman Catholic church is located in the historic center of Quito, and is the largest Neo-Gothic basilica on the continent. With gorgeous, intricate details both inside and out, the basilica is technically unfinished.

If you believe in local legends, it says that once it is completed the world comes to an end. 

13. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception – Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Ouagadougou / Photo by Sputniktilt / wikipedia.org

Ouagadougou Cathedral was built in the 1930s, and is one of the largest catholic cathedrals in western Africa. The Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

Constructed from mudbrick, a traditional material of the region, it is reminiscent of a European Romanesque style. 

12. Saint Sophia’s Cathedral –  Kiev, Ukraine

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral
Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev / Photo by Roman Brechko / wikipedia.org

Named after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, this beautiful cathedral was constructed in the 11th century. Designed in a spectacular Byzantine style, it boasts gold and green cupolas and sparkling white walls.

One of the city’s most famous landmarks, it was originally built to house the tombs of Kievan rulers. While it was almost demolished by the Soviets, it still lies there with its amazing mosaics and frescoes for all to enjoy. 

11. Basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal – Quebec, Canada

Basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal
Basilica of the National Vow / Photo by Diego Delso / wikipedia.org

Located in the heart of the Old Port of Montreal, this structure was built back in the 18th century, when the French predominated that part of the city. The most famous cathedral in the province, many come from all over North America to visit.

With breathtaking, vibrant interiors, the cathedral features dual towers, inspired by Paris’s eponymous cathedral. The interior was designed by local artist Jean-Baptiste Lagace, supervised by architect Victor Bourgeau.

10. Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral – Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral
Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral in Florence / darrenquigley32 / pixabay.com

A famous cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore has been a main landmark of the city since its completion in 1436. Originally called the Duomo di Firenze, the gorgeous Gothic Revival facade was built using pink, white and green marble.

The cathedral features three rose windows with three solid bronze doors, as well as lots of fine carvings and fabulous statues. Its famous red-tiled dome can be seen from all around the city. The cathedral’s complex includes the Baptistery of Saint John and Giotto’s Campanile. 

9. St.Vitus Cathedral – Prague, Czechia

St.Vitus Cathedral
St.Vitus Cathedral in Prague / Photo by rh2010 / stock.adobe.com

This large cathedral, with a 102-meter-high spire, can be seen from all around the city. It rises from amid the sprawling Prague Castle Complex with its fabulous facade and gorgeous Gothic architecture. It was built in 1344, and it houses ornate tombs of a few Holy Roman Emperors and Kings of Bohemia.

Decorated with elegant arcades, fine mosaics, and stained glass windows, the Chapel of St. Wenceslas is the highlight of this fine structure.

8. St. Stephen’s Cathedral – Vienna, Austria

St. Stephen’s Cathedral Vienna
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna / Photo by C.Stadler/Bwag / wikipedia.org

Built in 1137, the cathedral has been the city’s most arresting historical and architectural landmark. Exhibiting gorgeous Gothic and Romanesque architecture, the cathedral is one of the most recognizable symbols of Vienna.

Its most defining features are the glimmering limestone walls, wonderful roof mosaics, and the lofty tower. Worth a visit, the catacombs and atmospheric crypts house the remains of important members of the Hapsburg dynasty. 

7. Cologne Cathedral – Cologne, Germany

Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral / Photo by dudlajzov / stock.adobe.com

Cologne Cathedral boasts the largest facades of any church in the world with its twin spires that stretch 157 meters high. The revered Shrine of the Three Kings that lies within the structure is coated in fine carvings and sculptures.

Work on the cathedral began in 1248, but the final completion happened in 1880. Based on the design of the Amiens Cathedral, it overlooks the banks of the Rhine River.

6. St. Paul’s Cathedral – London, England

St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London / Photo by Mark Fosh / wikipedia.org

The Great Fire of London that took place between September 2-6 1666, destroyed the medieval city of London. Architect Sir Christopher Wren got the project to rebuild the damaged medieval gothic structure known as Old St. Paul’s.

The new structure contains a magnificent dome that became a distinctive element of the city. Today, tourists often climb the intricate stairways that lead to the walkway which encircles the dome. You can get some pretty amazing views of London from atop the roof.

5. Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia – Brasilia, Brazil

Brasilia Cathedral
Cathedral of Brasilia / Photo by Tissiana de A. de Souza / wikipedia.org

One of the newest and modernist cathedrals in the world, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia was built between 1958 to 1970. Located in the city of Brasilia, it is designed by Oscar Niemeyer and engineered by Joachim Cardozo. A large structure, it can hold up to 4,000 worshippers at a time under its levitating angel statues.

Its modern structure and glass roof offers believers a clear sight straight to heaven. This concrete building, with its abstract bell tower and airy interior, is very different from the typical gothic style cathedrals. 

4. Notre Dame Cathedral de Reims – Reims, France

Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral, France
Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral / Photo by Boris Stroujko / stock.adobe.com

Dating from the early 5th century, a Merovingian bishop established a church on an ancient Roman baths site. Until the 13th century, when the cathedral became what it is today, the Reims church was used for kings coronations.

The first one, Clovis I, was crowned there in 496. Its gothic style and intricate details required many restorations throughout the years. The French government, who owns the cathedral, invested lots of money in its upkeep. The Catholic Church is allowed to use the space, but they do not own it. 

3. Duomo Di Milano – Milan, Italy

Duomo Di Milano
Duomo Di Milano / Photo by muratart / stock.adobe.com

One of the most photographed cathedrals in the world, today you can buy tickets and wander through the lofty sculpture. The gorgeous spires that hang from the church’s tower are multiple and unique. Although the structure began building in 1386, the final touches were completed only in 1965.

Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo collaborated with his cousin in order to raise funds for the construction. It is home to many famous coronations through the centuries, such as Ferdinando’s the First of Austria, back in 1833.

2. Notre Dame de Paris – Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral de Paris
Notre Dame Cathedral de Paris / Paris Tourist Office / parisinfo.com

By far, Notre Dame de Paris is the most famous Catholic cathedral in the world. A major source of inspiration for artists and writers through the centuries, the iconic landmark in Paris burned in 2019, during one of its many restorations.

Thankfully, they succeeded in saving some relics and precious art, but it will never be the same as it once was. The gothic medieval structure began construction  in 1163, and it took 26 years to complete. Its location is right off the Seine, in the heart of Paris.

1. Basilica of Saint Peter – the Vatican, Vatican City

Basilica of Saint Peter
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican / Photo by Andrey Popov / stock.adobe.com

Another famous structure, the papal place of worship dates back to the 16th century. Famous for many reasons, one of them being the interior of the dome, which was designed by Michelangelo before his passing.

The interior furnishings were created by Bernini, who also designed St. Peter’s Square, upon which the basilica sits. The tomb of Saint Peter , the holiest site in Christendom, lies under the high altar. Whenever the Pope holds an audience, the square fills with visitors.  

These are the 25 most beautiful cathedrals in the world. We hope you like them as much as we do, they really bring out your spiritual side. Did you have a chance to visit any of them? If not, which ones seem the most appealing to you?

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About Anca Nicolescu

With a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Anca was always interested in a variety of topics, although she never actually worked in her field. She has a deep love for books and a passion for learning new things and exploring new subjects. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process.

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