Top 5 stunning European cathedrals

South America may have its wildlife, and Asia may have its temples, but one thing Europe has more than any other continent is some amazing ancient cathedrals. Whichever country you visit in Europe you can be sure to see some stunning religious buildings, but let’s take a look at 5 of the very best cathedrals.

From the River...
The view of the Notre Dame from the River…

5. Notre Dame de Paris is a historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The cathedral’s treasury is notable for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism’s most important first-class relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.


4. Cologne Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and is a World Heritage Site. It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day. Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 but wasn’t finished until the 19th century. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and its two huge spires give it the largest façade of any church in the world. Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor.


3. Duomo di Milano is the cathedral church of Milan, Italy. Dedicated to St Mary of the Nativity (Santa Maria Nascente), it is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, currently Cardinal Angelo Scola. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the 5th-largest church in the world and the second largest in Italy.


2. Il Duomo di Firenze is the main church of Florence, Italy. The exterior of the basilica is faced with polychrome marble panels in various shades of green and pink bordered by white and has an elaborate 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris. The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. The three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major attraction to tourists visiting the region of Tuscany. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

St. Basil's Cathedral
St. Basil’s Cathedral

1. St. Basil’s Cathedral is a church in Red Square in Moscow, Russia. The building was built from 1555–61 on orders from Ivan the Terrible and commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. A world famous landmark it was the city’s tallest building until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600. The cathedral is shaped as a flame of a bonfire rising into the sky – a design that has no analogues in Russian architecture. The design of this cathedral foreshadowed the climax of Russian national architecture in the 17th century.

So which cathedral looks nicest to you? How many have you visited so far on your travels?


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