There is no shortage of churches in Europe. Just about everywhere you go, you will come upon a church or ruins of a church from centuries ago. The beautiful architecture, the history of its walls and foundations as well as their surroundings are a sight to behold. You surely will not be disappointed in seeing all there is to see of the historical churches in Europe. Here is a small list of known historical churches in Europe.
1. St. Peters Basilica
Displayed in the Vatican City of Italy, St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world and known among the Roman Catholics as the holiest of historical churches. It is the resting place of many infamous names such as the first Pope and the Apostle Peter. Originally built in 1506 and completed by 1626, Michelangelo and other Renaissance architects designed this infamous structure which many travel to see. Not only is Michelangelo’s dome a sight to marvel but you will also be enamored by St. Peter’s square and the renown Pieta sculpture.
2. St. Stephen’s Basilica
This St. Stephens is named after King Stephen, the first king in Hungary. It is the largest in Budapest, accommodating about 8,500 people. In Hungary, this church is considered one of the most religious buildings and houses a sacred relic thought to belong to St. Stephen himself, a mummified right hand. Its dome reaches 96 metres tall; equal in height to the Parliament building nearby, symbolizing that worldly and spiritual thinking holds equal weight. It is home to some of the most world class musical performances featuring both organists and choirs.
3. St Mark’s Basilica
Compared to all the examples of Byzantine architecture, St. Mark’s Basilica is one of the worlds greatest. Unavoidable to travelers visiting Venice, Italy, it stands in St. Mark’s Square, clearly visible from the city’s Grand Canal. Inside you’ll find 12th century marble flooring, a studded- gold altarpiece and thousands of square metres of mosaics; many of which depict the life of St. Mark, including his return to Italy from Egypt when his body was reported stolen by two Venetian merchants.
4. Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral now sits in fourth place for the tallest cathedral in Europe. It was completed in 1880, towering over the city of Cologne, Germany. An exemplary example of Gothic architecture, it is a must see of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 533 steps to the top of the South Tower will provide never ending views of the city and along the way you will see St. Peters bell, the largest swinging church bell in the world.
5. Milan Cathedral
This Gothic Cathedral is the second largest in Italy with 135 marble spires, a running number of gargoyles, 55 stained glass windows and wait for it……3,400 statues! At the highest point of the spires sits the golden image of Mary, the Madonna and a statue of Napoleon Bonaparte who was crowned King of Italy in 1805 . Taking almost six centuries to build, the Milan Cathedral is the 5th largest in the world. The best times to visit are when the sun sets and Milan is casted with a pink glow.
6. St. Stephens Cathedral
This Cathedral is considered to be where infamous Beethoven discovered he was deaf. This was due to not being able to hear the giant Pummerin bell ringing. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was another famous classic that is known to have worshipped at St. Stephens and is the place where he was both wedded and laid down to rest. Built in 1137 and finished in 1160, it was dedicated to St. Stephen in 1147. St. Stephens Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Austria. Here, many weddings and funerals take place; some from the most notable of names in European history.
7. Seville Cathedral
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Seville Cathedral of Seville, Spain. Also known as Saint Mary of the Sea. This cathedral is the third largest in all of Europe. Considered one of the most ornate religious sites in the world, it is adorned with a gold leaf altar that depicts the life of Jesus and is supposedly the tomb site of Christopher Columbus.
8. Sagrada Família
Though still incomplete, this church is one of the cities most famous landmarks, residing in Barcelona Spain. Architect, Antoni Gaudi, first started building in 1882 but construction on the basilica is not due to be complete until 2026. Once finished, the spires on the basilica will cause this church to be considered the tallest in the world. Here you will find architecture of Art Nouveau and Gothic features amongst its exterior. Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9. Hagia Sophia
Meaning Holy Wisdom, this Greek Orthodox Basilica (now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey) started construction in 537 and was completed in 1453 when it became a mosque. At the time, when it functioned as a church, it was considered to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture with its vibrant mosaics. Known to have survived hundreds of earthquakes, it is truly a remarkable place to visit where millions come to admire it to this day.
10. Notre Dame
Recently, this landmark was severely damaged when it was engulfed in flames leaving the 850 year old spire completely destroyed. Even though visitors can now only admire its former grandeur, this famous cathedral is still an iconic piece of history that is worthy of noting. Also known as Our Lady of Paris, this Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, France was built between 1160 and 1345. It was one of the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses. In it held sacred church artifacts like the Crown of Thorns, one of the Holy Nails and a fragment of the true Cross. Since it’s last devastation, plans to rebuild have been underway and the cathedral is projected to be restored within less than five years.
There is so much history that can be found all over Europe. The churches that blanket this land are beautiful in presence and in its rich history. There may not be enough time in our lives to discover all of what Europe has to offer but visiting any of these 10 historical churches of Europe is a great place to start.