Christianity is one of the few factors that have played such an important role in shaping the European architecture. For hundreds and hundreds of years, kings, pontiffs and nobles have used countless resources to erect the cathedrals and churches that still stand today, which we can say are undoubtedly some of the most impressive structures ever created.
You can find beautiful cathedrals worth paying a visit in almost any European capital. However, if we had to pick the most impressive ones, this would be the list:
Sagrada Familia – Barcelona (Spain).
The construction of the Sagrada Familia in the capital of Catalonia began in 1882 and is in progress even today. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the famous structure has attracted a lot of controversy and praise over the years. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral has 18 towers representing the 12 apostles, the 4 evangelists, Saint Mary and Jesus Christ. When Gaudi was asked about the long duration of the construction, he replied: “My client is not in a hurry.” However, it is estimated that the completion of the construction will take place in 2026, when the centenary of the architect’s death will be celebrated.
Notre Dame – Paris (France).
Located on Île de la Cité on the Seine River, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its construction began in the first years of the 12th century, making it one of the oldest cathedrals on the Old Continent. This cathedral has witnessed countless important events in history, such as the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte and the beatification of Joan of Arc.
Until the devastating fire of April 15, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral was visited by about 13 million tourists annually, or nearly 30,000 people daily. Unfortunately, the fire caused extensive damage to the structure, and it will take many years to restore Notre Dame to what it used to be.
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore – Florence (Italy).
The Cathedral of Saint Mary was built between 1296 and 1436. Its name refers to the lily flower, which is the symbol of Florence. Located in Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral complex includes the Baptistery of Saint John, which is said to be the oldest building in the city, and the Giotto Tower. Thanks to its architecture, historical importance and size (it is the second largest church in Italy), the cathedral was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its dome was the largest in the world until the contemporary development of new structural materials that allowed the erection of larger domes. So far, however, it is the largest brick dome ever built.
Italy is full of impressive churches and cathedrals, one of which is the huge dome in Milan. You can spend hours here enjoying the grand marble facade and intricate sculptures on the outside of the building, before even stepping inside!
With all of its ornamental details, it is not surprising that this church was only completed in the 19th century, after its construction began in 1396.
St. Basil’s Cathedral – Moscow (Russia).
St. Basil’s Cathedral is located in the Red Square in the Russian capital and was built between 1555 and 1561, by order of Ivan the Terrible, in gratitude for the victory of the Russian army against the Tatars in Kazan. Its design is similar to that of flames pointing to the sky and is completely unique in Russian architecture. Since 1928, the cathedral is affiliated with the Moscow State Historical Museum, and since 1990 it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.