10 Cathedrals You Should See

By Michelle Yastremsky

During your worldly travels you're bound to find some truly inspiring architecture. After a while though, all of the churches and palaces blend into one really cool Gothic structure in your head.

We've selected a handful of our favorite cathedrals that will be sure to inspire you long after your travels. These stand out to us for their unique story, style or sheer size.

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Berliner Dom • Berlin, Germany

Otherwise known as the “Protestant St. Peter’s Basilica.”

This magnificent structure was severely damaged during WWII. You can go inside and explore the imperial staircase, the Hohenzollern crypt or head to the top of the dome and enjoy the views. Or, relax on the lawn and admire the beautiful cathedral from the outside! The front lawn is always littered with groups of friends, families, visitors and locals alike.

Milan Cathedral • Milan, Italy

This is the 5th largest Christian church in the world.

The elaborate façade is matched only by the view of Milan from the terrazza. Milan’s Duomo has over 3,000 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures decorating it. Look up and you’ll see the famous Madonnina, a gold-colored statue of Mary at the highest spire.

St. Stephen's Cathedral • Vienna, Austria

Otherwise known as Steffl which translates to “Little Stephan.”

This Gothic cathedral is Vienna’s pride and joy. After surviving several wars since the 12th century, this structure is a symbol of Vienna’s freedom and strength. Most travelers are attracted to the distinct diamond-patterned, tile covered roof.

Chartres Cathedral • Chartres, France

A French Gothic-styled UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This medieval Catholic cathedral is about 50 miles southwest of Paris. Its spirituality is heightened by the fact that no direct light can enter. All light is filtered through beautiful stained glass, making the experience of visiting the cathedral unworldly.

Sagrada Familia • Barcelona, Spain

A UNESCO World Heritage Site with an anticipated completion date of 2026.

Acclaimed architecture Antonio Gaudi began designing this masterpiece in 1883. Gaudi died in 1926 and the massive Roman Catholic church has remained under construction ever since. From the colors to the eclectic statues decorating the Sacred Heart Cathedral, this is clearly the work of Gaudi.

St. Basil’s Cathedral • Moscow, Russia

Built in 1561 on orders from Ivan the Terrible.

This unique building looks like a huge flame rising into the sky. From the bright colors to the wild shapes, this structure was unlike anything Russia had ever seen in 1561. There is a myth that Ivan the Terrible had the builders blinded so they could never recreate anything comparable to St. Basil’s.

Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore • Florence, Italy

The main church in Florence and it took almost 150 years to complete.

The pink, white and green marble and the russet-colored dome that decorates this cathedral makes it an iconic addition to Florence’s skyline. You must go inside though and admire the intricate artwork of the ceiling. The complex itself is made up of the Duomo, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile. It’s a must-see in Florence!

St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral • Brussels, Belgium

Serves as the co-cathedral of the Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels, the Primate of Belgium.

It’s not over the top or ornate and glamorous. The simplicity in this Gothic cathedral speaks volumes. The chapel is dedicated to St. Michael and Gudula, male and female patron saints of Brussels. Make it here on a Sunday and you’ll catch a concert played on the carillon of 49 bells.

Borgund Stave Church • Borgund, Norway

The best preserved of Norway's 28 extant stave churches.

A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church, really common in Norway from the 11th to the 13th century. This type of construction is unique to Norway’s cultural heritage. This particular stave church is now used a museum to highlight exactly that.

Las Lajas Sanctuary • Narino, Colombia

Much more than a sacred and religious landmark!

This basilica is near the border of Ecuador and Colombia. It was built inside the canyon where the Guitarar River flows. After 33 years, the result is pure beauty. Basically hanging over the abyss, this cathedral is almost unbelievable.

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