9 must-visit places of worship in Europe

06 April 2018

Europe is home to a vibrant variety of culture and some simply stunning architecture. From the Eiffel Tower in France to the Parthenon in Greece, the European continent is full of beautiful buildings and amazing places of worship. Here are nine of the best.

St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

One of the grandest and most beautiful buildings on Earth, St Peter’s Basilica is an Italian Renaissance church which sits inside the walls of the world’s smallest nation – the Vatican City. The church boasts a lavish interior combining spectacular works of art, marble columns and flooring, and a mosaic-lined dome which visitors can ascend for incredible views across the Vatican and Rome.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Often confused with the Kremlin, Moscow’s famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral is one of Russia’s flagship landmarks. Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to mark the 1552 capture of Kazan from the Mongol Empire, its striking onion domes and eye-catching brickwork characterise this colourful tourist attraction and museum.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of Europe and Spain’s great attractions, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is an architectural masterpiece. Still unfinished, work will continue until 2026 to complete Antonio Gaudi’s designs, even though the temple has been open to churchgoers and visitors since the 19th century. The multi-spired church is impressive on the outside, but its true beauty lies within, where a forest of angled pillars soar towards the ceiling and dance in the coloured light that shines through stained glass windows.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is one of Istanbul’s finest attractions and sits on the banks of the Bosphorus Strait. Standing out with its six minarets and named for its blue interior, the Blue Mosque is such a popular attraction that admission is controlled to preserve its sacred atmosphere.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik

The newest place of worship that features on this list, Hallgrimskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavik, Iceland which was consecrated in 1986. It stands at a height of 74 metres and is one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks as Iceland’s second-tallest building. The church also contains a gargantuan pipe organ weighing 25 tonnes and has a viewing platform built into its main tower.

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral, Kiev

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in the Ukrainian capital Kiev is the city’s oldest standing church. Named after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, it was commissioned to commemorate a victory for the Kyivan Rus and to glorify Christianity. With an interior of rich frescoes and mosaics, many of which are still intact more than a millennium later, the gold and green-domed cathedral and its surrounding grounds form one of Kiev’s must-see attractions.

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne

The world’s fourth-tallest church building stands in Cologne, Germany. The twin-spired gothic Cologne Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and dominates the city’s skyline. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and, upon completion in 1880, was the tallest structure in the world until 1890 when its place was taken by Ulm Minster.

St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta

St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta is a gem of Baroque art and architecture. It was built for the Knights of St John where they would gather for communal worship on its marble floor. The Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to enrich it with incredible works of art, helping to create an interior that impresses churchgoers and visitors to this day.

Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille

An iconic figure, Marseille’s Notre-Dame de la Garde watches over sailors, fishermen and the entire region from its perch on the city’s highest natural point, Grade Hill. Notre-Dame’s Roman-Byzantine style means it sports domes, multi-coloured stones, gold and mosaic in addition to a large statue of the Virgin Mary which stands on the basilica’s bell tower.

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