Top 20: Of the Most Beautiful Cathedrals in the World

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

An offer to God created by the ego of men, churches cathedrals represent some of the most artistic and complex architecture created by man!

Let’s appreciate the outstanding and awe-inspiring architecture of 20 most beautiful cathedrals in the world. This list was compounded respecting the common-sense that exists about this subject.

Randomly sorted list

1. St. Basil’s Cathedral

The official name of St. Basil’s Cathedral it’s “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat”.

Completed in 1560, the cathedral was ordered by Ivan the Terrible to mark the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. We know almost nothing about the builders, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, except their names and the dubious legend that Ivan had them blinded so that they could not create anything to compare.

St. Basil’s consists of eight small chapels surrounding a ninth larger chapel, each symbolizing an important day of fighting in Kazan, or, either the creators were paying homage to the churches of Jerusalem, or, by building eight churches around a central ninth, they were representing the medieval symbol of the eight-pointed star.

In the old times of the Soviet Republic, there was talk of demolishing St. Basil’s. Thanks to the courage of the architect Pyotr Baranovsky, that didn’t happen. He refused the order to demolish the cathedral and sent the Kremlin an extremely blunt telegram. The Cathedral remained standing, and Baranovsky’s earned him five years in prison. width=”853″ height=”480″

2. Notre Dame Cathedral

Immortalized by Victor Hugo in his famous novel, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, the Notre Dame Cathedral is perhaps the most well known sacred destinations in history!

Tradition has it that Notre-Dame’s first stone was laid in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III, the construction of Notre Dame began in 1163 and was not finished until 1250. Notre Dame is a pinnacle example of French Gothic architecture, sculpture, and stained glass. width=”853″ height=”480”

3. St. Vitus Cathedral

For more than 600 years, the city of Prague have been overwhelmed by the towers of St Vitus Cathedral, the most beautiful cathedral in the Czech Republic.

St. Vitus Cathedral has a very long history, founded in the 10th century, but not completed until the 20th century. Above the south entrance to the cathedral is the Last Judgment mosaic, designed from over one million pieces of glass and stone, this remarkable mosaic is also a rare art form to find in northern Europe. width=”853″ height=”480″

4. Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral de Notre-Dame was the tallest cathedral in the world for over four centuries, and one of the most beautiful gothic cathedrals.

Built in the 13th century, has an interesting blend of Roman and Gothic architecture. Principal work of the Renaissance, the mechanical astronomical clock was able to mathematically calculate the date of Easter in the Christian calendar before computers ever existed, and this invention was put together by various artists, mathematicians and technicians.

The Cathedral inspired many men and artists, here are some of theirs impressions:

Stendhal: “The vault of Strasbourg is one of the most striking monuments I have ever seen”.

Goethe: “The more I contemplate the façade of the Cathedral, the more I am convinced of my first impression that its loftiness is linked to its beauty.”

Victor Hugo: “The church portals are beautiful, particularly the Roman portal; there are truly superb figures on horseback, the rose-window is noble and well-cut, the entire front of the church is a clever poem. But the true triumph of this Cathedral is the spire. It is a veritable tiara of stone with its crown and its cross. It is a gigantic and delicate marvel. I have seen Chartres, I have seen Anvers, but I needed to see Strasbourg… From the belfry, the view is wonderful. Strasbourg lays at your feet, the old city of tiled triangular roof tops and gable windows, interrupted by towers and churches as picturesque as those of any city in Flanders. Personally, I would go from one turret to another, admiring one by one, the view of France, Switzerland and Germany via one ray of sunshine.” width=”853″ height=”480″

5. Seville Cathedral

Built in 1402 the cathedral stands on the site of the Great Mosque of the 12th century, and it represent the city’s power and wealth after the reconquest, houses the tomb of legendary Christopher Columbus, and boasts several impressive architectural feats.

Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in Europe, with their 11,500 square meters, and has the largest altarpiece in the world. Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic building in all of Europe. width=”853″ height=”480″

6. Roskilde Cathedral

Roskilde Cathedral is one of the must-see destinations in Denmark, it serves as a mausoleum to the Danish royal family since the 15th century.

Predominantly Gothic, the Cathedral incorporates a variety of architectural styles. While Roskilde contains earlier Romanesque influences throughout the inside of the structure, is one of the oldest Gothic building in Denmark. width=”853″ height=”480″

7. Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore

The Cathedral of Florence, is dedicated to “Santa Maria del Fiore”, and was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302). Finished around 1367, the Cathedral is also known simply as Duomo.

One of the most unique cathedrals on this list, has adopted an array of architectural styles. The cathedral’s most notable feature is the octagonal dome, and is the first dome of this shape to be built without a wooden supporting frame. A magnificent unique lantern crown the dome, showing a great mastery of technical knowledge, but even so was highly questioned at the time. width=”853″ height=”480″

8. Chartres Cathedral

Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, this cathedral is world renowned for its architectural magnificence.

Almost perfectly preserved, the Chartres Cathedral preserves almost of their original design and detail. with completely intact sculptures, and original stained glass windows this Cathedral is a wonderful example of 12th century Gothic architecture. width=”853″ height=”480″

9. Cathedral of Évora

Known in Portugal as the “Sé de Évora”, it is an attractive mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and its ancient sections date from 1200AD, looking similar to the designs at the infamous Notre Dame Cathedral and Chartres Cathedral, the main portal displays the 12 apostles.

Mainly constructed in rose granite, is reminiscent of Lisbon Cathedral, with its two huge towers (added in the XVI Century) and entrance gallery The Cathedral of Évora is considered a masterpiece of Portuguese architectural and artistic design. width=”853″ height=”480″

10. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City is one of the most amazing architectural buildings in the western hemisphere, with its flamboyant Gothic twin spires, the west facade is particularly impressive.

Until the advent of the skyscrapers around the turn of the 20th century, the slender towers rise majestically to a height of 330 feet (100 m) towered high over the city. width=”853″ height=”480″

11. Hagia Sophia Cathedral

Officially named The Church of the Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia Cathedral, was dedicated by the Emperor Justinian in 537AD. A place of immense history, nothing remains of the original building constructed in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. It have two floors centered on a giant nave that has a great dome ceiling, along with smaller domes, towering above.

Through history, Hagia Sophia has been a place of warship for both Christians and Muslims, creating interesting contrast of religious adornments throughout the cathedral.
This cathedral is one of the most greatest example of Byzantine architecture in the world.–ZfYvvLpI width=”853″ height=”480″

12. Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral is very popular among tourists, they love to explore more than 1000 years of history in Europe’s longest medieval Cathedral.

Discover the beautiful illuminated Winchester Bible, 12th-century wall paintings, medieval carvings, contemporary art and the awe and wonder of this magnificent building.

The Cathedral have impressive chantry chapels, elaborately carved choir stalls, and intricately adorned ornamental screens. With a whimsical setting, the Winchester Cathedral is a magnificent place for any architecture enthusiast. width=”853″ height=”480″

13. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Medieval pilgrims walked the Way of St. James for months to arrive at Santiago Cathedral, is one of the world’s most important religious sites. After the tomb of St. James was discovered in 819AD a small mall church was first built over it.

The Baroque facade made of granite, forms part of a grand square, called the Plaza del Obradoiro, which is surrounded by public buildings, and is flanked by huge bell towers that are adorned with numerous statues of St. James. width=”853″ height=”480″

14. Church of Saint Sava

The beautiful Cathedral of Saint Sava is the largest Serbian Orthodox church, the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans and the largest Orthodox Church in the world that remains currently in use.

The work on the cathedral began in 1935, but was postponed because of World War II, St. Sava Cathedral has some unbeatable architectural valor. The Cathedral, incomplete until 2004, built in the Serbian-Byzantine style, with four 44 m-high steeples.

At its highest point the dome is 70 m in height, while the main gilded cross is an additional 12 m high, giving the Cathedral a total height of 82 m and a height above sea level of 134 m (64 m above the level of the Sava river), and is visible from any angle throughout the city of Belgrade. width=”853″ height=”480″

15. Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Cathedral is the largest medieval building in Scandinavia and the most important church in Norway, and has been a religious pilgrimage destination since the beginning of its construction in 1070.

The relics of St. Olav, a Norwegian king and national hero, transformed the place into a important pilgrimage destination. Combining a fascinating medieval architectural styles, Nidaros cathedral is a design enthusiast’s dream. width=”853″ height=”480″

16. Berliner Dom Cathedral

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), completed in 1905, is less raved about than many of the others on this list, is the largest and most important Protestant church in Berlin, as well as the sepulchre of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty.

The berlin Cathedral is large and has an extraordinary dome, decorated with intricate mosaics. First built in 1465 as a parish church on the Spree River it was only completed in 1905 under the last German Kaiser -Wilhelm II. width=”853″ height=”480″

17. Mainz Cathedral

Above the roofs of the half-timbered houses in the Old Town of Mainz rise the six towers of St. Martin’s Cathedral (along with Worms Cathedral and Speyer Cathedral) represent the climax of Romanesque cathedral architecture in Germany, dates from 975AD but was continually rebuilt and restored, reaching its present form mainly in the 13th and 14th centuries.

This Cathedral has come to represent Romanesque architecture, their current construction displays a conglomerate of architectural styles, including Baroque, Gothic, and Romanesque. width=”853″ height=”480″

18. Washington National Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is the sixth largest cathedral in the world, simply called Washington National Cathedral, and the second largest in the United States.

With various Gothic architectural styles from the middle ages, with exquisite architectural sculpture, wood carving, gargoyles, mosaics, and more than 200 stained glass windows. width=”853″ height=”480″

19. St. Andrew’s Cathedral

The remains of St Andrews Cathedral, which was Scotland’s largest cathedral and most magnificent church now lies in ruins, overlooking the North Sea. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is mere bones compared to what it had once been, and is a must-see stop, incorporating both a Norman and early Gothic style.

St. Andrew’s was built over a long time, now the cathedral has been reduced to its foundations, been a prime example of the endurance of this kind of architecture. width=”853″ height=”480″

20. Ulm Minster Cathedral

Ulm is the home of the largest cathedral in Southern Germany, and also the birth city of Albert Einstein.

Many claim to be the largest cathedral in the world, Ulm Minster Cathedral truly stands as the tallest church in the world, looming 160 m (528 feet) in the sky. The finest example of Gothic church architecture in Germany.

Now Protestant, this church has dominated the city and the region for hundreds of years, is a desirable sight for any individual interested in architecture. It´s a challenge to climb the 768 steps of the great Gothic spire tower, but it provides a superb panoramic view of the entire city and an introduction to many stone gargoyles. width=”853″ height=”480″

Sadly, the main reason for men build this amazing monuments is too far from the word of God.

Thirst of power, vanity, and greed were the thriving forces behind the construction of these masterpieces.