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  • Updated: June 01, 2023

Ten Most Beautiful Churches In The World

The most beautiful churches are the ones that provide comfort, peace, and an accepting place to worship for those who choose to visit. 

Of course, some visually magnificent sacred locations across the world are worth a visit whether one is religious or not. 

This article will examine ten of the world's most beautiful churches, ranging from one cut straight into the volcanic rock to a 12th-century stave church. 

Though the designs and denominations differ, each demonstrates how ingenious and imaginative humans can be when designing to honour a higher power. 

From mountaintops to earth-carved worship sites, these churches are worth the journey to see in person. 

1. Göreme Churches (Turkey)

The various monastery structures carved into volcanic peaks in Turkey's Cappadocia area create a spectacular open-air museum. 

The churches in the Göreme Valley are among the most well-known. 

Monks began building the caves constructions in the fourth century, and many of them feature exquisite paintings painted on the inside walls. 

While the caverns were initially used as monasteries, other chapels, refectories, and even dwellings were cut into the rocks throughout the years. 

In 1985, the Göreme churches were placed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage monuments.


2. Church of St. George (Ethiopia)

The Church of St. George, which dates from the late 12th to early 13th century, is one of eleven monolithic churches carved into the volcanic tuff at Lalibela in Ethiopia's Amhara region. 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral, built during the reign of King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, has been dubbed the world's eighth wonder. 

It is enclosed by a tiny man-made canyon, and within, murals depict the story of St. George, a Roman soldier who refused to abandon his Christian beliefs. 

Lalibela's chapels are split into two groups by an 80-by-80-foot ditch that resembles the Jordan River. 


3. Stykkishólmskirkja Church (Iceland)

Jón Haraldsson built this contemporary Lutheran church on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. 

The concrete church and its bell tower resembling whale vertebrae were built in 1990 in the scenic Stykkishólmsbaer, a tiny fishing community with a population of little over 1,000 people in western Iceland. 

The church's elegant lines cutting the sky are a stunning sight from afar.


4. Cadet Chapel, United States Air Force Academy (United States)

The United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, first opened in 1962, is one of the most notable modernist religious buildings in the United States. 

The chapel was designed by architect Walter Netsch and is topped with 17 glass spires and aluminium panels. 

The contemporary chapel has been compared to a spacecraft or an aeroplane wing because of its steel frame and stained-glass windows. 

The ecumenical chapel serves as a meditation space for Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish cadets.


5. Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas (Colombia)

The Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas, located in Colombia, has become a must-see in South America for both pilgrims and ordinary tourists. 

Its pilgrimage tradition precedes the existing church—in 1754, the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to two indigenous women seeking shelter during a storm. 

Several shrines were built to commemorate the event throughout the years. 

The neo-Gothic chapel was built in 1916 in the gorge formed by the Guáitara River beside the Ecuadorian border by Colombian architect Lucindo Espinosa and Ecuadorian engineer J. Gualberto Pérez. 

The chapel was completed in 1949, and its cliff-side location of more than 300 feet above the river below is very dramatic.

6. Chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe (France)

The chapel of Saint-Michel rests on a 279-foot-tall volcanic mountain in the hills of the commune of Aiguilhe, less than two hours by driving from Lyon. 

The Romanesque church was built in 969 and is dedicated to Saint Michael, the patron saint of mountaintops. 

This stone building, accessible by a 268-step stairway, was dubbed a "jewel of Romanesque architecture" by French Romantic writer Prosper Mérimée and gives a panoramic view of the town below. 

The bell tower was hit by lightning in 1247, although it was later reconstructed in the nineteenth century. 

During that time, the chapel's paintings were also repaired by the French painter Anatole Dauvergne. 

7. Chapel of the Holy Cross (United States)

The formal designs for the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, were created by architects August K. Strotz and Richard Hein of Anshen & Allen, who were commissioned and developed in part by philanthropist Marguerite Brunswig Staude. 

When the Catholic church was opened in 1957, it soon became one of Arizona's most popular tourist destinations. 

Staude's initial design was influenced by American skyscrapers, notably the Empire State Building, and the building's showpiece is artist Keith Monroe's 90-foot iron cross. 

The church is a one-of-a-kind beautiful landmark amid the rough and gorgeous desert setting, with its concrete walls standing out against the surrounding red rocks. 

8. Borgund Stave Church (Norway)

This ancient wooden church was built in the late 12th century in the community of Borgund, some three hours by road from Bergen. 

The church in Norway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is regarded as one of the best-preserved stave churches in the country. 

The staves, or vertical wooden boards, used to build its walls inspired the name.

Many antique wooden churches were neglected during the nineteenth century, while others were purposefully demolished to make room for modern structures. 

The famous Romantic landscape painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl is credited for accentuating the beauty and historic value of these churches, ensuring that many survived to the present day. 


9. Temppeliaukio Church (Finland)

Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, Finnish architects, designed and built this contemporary monolithic church in 1969. 

The church was cut straight from granite rocks, with walls varying in height from 16 to 26 feet. 

A 79-foot copper dome rises above concrete beams and 180 glass panels that flood the room with light at the church's apex. 

The church is particularly well-known for its superb acoustics, which are attributed to its rough stone walls, and it is regularly utilized for concerts.


10. Panagía Paraportianí Church (Greece)

This church, which overlooks the Aegean Sea, is one of the oldest of the more than 400 churches on the Greek island of Mykonos. 

The Byzantine-Cycladic structure, which dates from 1425, is located in Chora's historic neighbourhood. 

Its most distinguishing characteristic is that it is five separate churches that were erected throughout the ages and finally linked together to form the current edifice. 

The chapel or churches were constructed within an old city gate—Panaga paraportian meaning "Our Lady of the Side Gate." 

It is an excellent example of Cycladic architecture with its plain, whitewashed façade.

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Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi
Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi

Rasheed is a Prolific Content Writer who also has a niche in all Genres of Literature, Academic Pape...

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