In Europe, almost every street you turn down there is a church to see. Soon they all begin to blend together… that is, except for the next five. These cathedrals are iconic and a must on your European bucket list!
5. St.Vitus Cathedral
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Prague Castle is the largest castle area in the world so it’s no surprise that the cathedral located within the complex is absolutely stunning! In no other cathedral have I seen such vivid stained glass. I said “oh my God” aloud at least once per window (I know probably not the best phrase to say in a cathedral). And if the stained glass doesn’t make you say “oh my God” the tomb of St. John of Nepomuk will. It’s baroque style is carried out in two tones of silver with an abundance of angels and a red draped canopy.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
Location: Rome, Italy
It is the most famous Roman Catholic church in the world so of course it made the “Top Five”. Built upon St. Peter’s burial site all of the Pope’s are also buried there. The basilica is home to Pieta by Michelangelo (who also designed the basilica’s dome) and the baldachin (pictured below) designed by Bernini. He also designed Saint Peter’s Square where nearly 100,000 spectators can receive the Pope’s blessing.
3. Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Location: Florence, Italy
The Florentines original goal was to build a church that would fit the entire city’s population of 100,000 so the cathedral is massive! Not only is the scale remarkable but the entire exterior is covered by pink, white, and green marbles. Preserved within the church are some very important frescos such as the “Condottiero Giovanni Acuto” (by Paolo Uccello), “Niccolo da Tolentino” (Andrea del Castagno), and “Final Judgment” (painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari). Finally, the cherry on top is Brunelleschi’s iconic dome.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral
Location: Paris, France
Everyone has heard of Notre Dame, but what’s so great about it to make the top 5? It is the best example of French Gothic architecture. It was one of the very first Gothic cathedrals to be constructed and took nearly 300 years to complete. During that time, there were some structural issues with the thin walls so flying buttresses (the arched supports that look like spider legs) were added to support the structure. The best view is from across the river where you can really admire the flying buttresses.
1. Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
Location: Barcelona, Spain
There is no other cathedral that can top the Sagrada Familia! Literally! When construction is complete in 2026, it will be the tallest religious building in all of Europe. Designed by Antoni Gaudí the basilica feels like walking through a garden. Gaudí’s philosophy was that if he used nature as inspiration for the construction of the church it was as if he were collaborating with the creator. Furthermore, he believed that color was the expression of life, which is evident in the enormous stained glass windows that flood the cathedral with blues, greens, reds, and oranges. It is the most unique cathedral you will ever see!