The 10 Most Famous Churches In The World Today
Here are ten of the most famous churches of today around the world.
Sagrada Familia Catholic Church
The Sagrada Familia Catholic Church, located in Barcelona, Catalina, Spain, may be the most famous of all churches. Sagrada Familia (means, “sacred family”) was recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Church, where are very few in number in such a prestigious category. Construction began on this gigantic Roman Catholic church in 1882 under architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) and amazingly, construction still continuing to this day. That’s because it is such a tremendous complex that by the time one part of the church is completed, the original construction (began in 1882) would need remodeling or restoration. It would take well over a week to tour this church.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia may be the most recognizable landmark in the world, in part because it appears in so many different movies. The elaborate architecture is extraordinarily intricate and unique among most churches in the world. It was built in 1551 and finished in 1561 by order of the Ivan the Terrible. It’s located in Moscow’s Red Square and is the geometric center of Moscow. It was later occupied by the Russian Orthodox Church and named after Basil of Caesarea, sometimes referred to as Saint Basil the Great. Basil was the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor and he was a very influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church.
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris, or the Notre Dame Cathedral, located in Paris, France, have some the most dramatic towers, spires, stained glass windows, and statuary that one has ever seen. It comes straight out of medieval Paris and brings to mind the classic movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This cathedral has been the center of focus for arts and motion pictures throughout history. Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and one of the most historic.
New Saint Peter’s Basilica
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, often referred to as Saint Peter’s Basilica, is of course located at in Vatican City, which is an enclave of Rome, Italy. This is the church where it is believed that the bones of Saint Peter, the Apostle of Christ, were buried. This is thought to be the place of his being crucified (some say, upside down) and martyrdom, but was also believed to be the place where he was buried. Constantine originally founded the church in 324 which was rebuilt in the 16th century, and included the famous works of the Renaissance masters Michelangelo, Bramante, and Bernini.
Westminster Abby in London, England, is one of the most famous western landmarks there is. This deeply Gothic abbey church is in Westminster, London, which is just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. Westminster Abby is one of the world’s greatest churches and has a long and rich history stretching back over a thousand years and would be a crime to miss seeing it if you’re ever in London. Westminster Abby’s history is clearly the United Kingdom's most notable religious building, partly because it was the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English royalty or national heroes.
Hagia Sophia isn’t a church today, but it is still one of the greatest structural and architectural achievements, not only for its day, but this day and age. Amazingly, construction began in 537 and wasn’t completed until 1453, some 900 years later! Hagia Sophia (means “holy wisdom”) was originally a Greek patriarchal church, but later became an imperial mosque, but eventually it became a museum and today it’s absolutely worth the tour, although one day won’t be enough to see it all. Located near Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey, Hagia Sophia, Hagia Sophia is one of the few examples of Byzantine architecture left in the world.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, better known as Saint Mark’s Basilica, is in Venice, Italy, and is another rare but very fine example of Byzantine architecture. The first Saint Mark’s building was constructed in 832 and has been under construction, without stop, almost since the beginning of the first building. Some believe that Saint Mark’s remains were buried there, and thus, church took on his name. Today, it remains one of the world’s top tourist attractions, drawing tourists from nearly every nation.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, located in Jerusalem, Israel, lays claim to being the church founded within the first Christian generation. The church itself is thought to be built on top of the Calvary Hill, where Golgotha was located, so being the very location that is believed to be where Jesus was crucified may make this one of the sacred of locations for believers, although it is impossible to tell where Golgotha was today because Jerusalem and grown so much in the last two thousand years.
Hallgrimskirkja, which means “Church of Hallgrimur” is named after Hallgrimur Petursson who founded it in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1945. It is easily the largest church in Iceland, and being 244 feet tall, it is the tallest object in the city. Because it is so tally, was used as an observation tower and it still today, even though the church still exists. If you ever visit there, you’ll notice a statue of explorer Leif Eriksson in the front of the parking lot. The statute was a gift from the United States in honor of the Iceland’s Alpingi Millennial Festival in 1930.
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity is located in Bethlehem, the same town where Jesus was born around 2,000 years ago. Many people don’t visit there because of the danger for Christians visiting a sacred site since it is in Palestinian territory. For some, they think it’s worth the risk because they want to see the church which, tradition holds, was placed directly over the place where Christ was born. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Maybe your own church isn’t famous or big, but what makes it home is that God is there, and the family of God is there. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are there, and you can all worship there together as one body, as do others who are scattered around the world, to worship the One, true God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Person of the Holy Spirit, Who is also God. Wherever we’re planted, let us glorify God.
Article by Jack Wellman