10 Divinely Designed Churches.

Jesus Christ didn't need fancy churches, but thank goodness that some people didn't listen too well and built magnificent buildings to glorify God. Today, there are thousands of churches: some small and simple, whereas others are humongous and ornately decorated.

Let's take a look at some divinely designed churches around the world, both classic and modern in style:

Las Lajas Cathedral

Las Lajas Cathedral (Image Credit: Jungle_Boy [Flickr])

Las Lajas Cathedral, side view from the bottom (Image Credit: julkastro [Flickr])

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas, or the Las Lajas Cathedral [wiki] in Colombia, was built in 1916 on a site where, according to local legend, the Virgin Mary appeared. The story goes like this: an Indian woman named María Mueses de Quiñones was carrying her deaf-mute daughter Rosa on her back near Las Lajas ("The Rocks"). Weary of the climb, the María sat down on a rock when Rosa spoke (for the first time) about an apparition in a cave.

Later on, a mysterious painting of the Virgin Mary carrying a baby was discovered on the wall of the cave. Supposedly, studies of the painting showed no proof of paint or pigments on the rock - instead, when a core sample was taken, it was found that the colors were impregnated in the rock itself to a depth of several feet.

Whether true or not, the legend spurred the building of a gothic church worthy of a fairy tale.

Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, always under construction (Image Credit: chrisjfry [Flickr])

A fantastic photo detailing the exterior of the La Sagrada Familia church
by Christopher Chan [Flickr]

La Sagrada at night (Image Credit: martinhughes81 [Flickr])

La Sagrada Familia [official site | wiki], or Catalan for "The Holy Family", is a yet-to-be-finished Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, Spain.

The church's design is rich with Christian symbolism, with façades featuring intricate details describing the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most awe inspiring is the eighteen towers representing the 12 Apostles, 4 Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and a central tower - the tallest of them all - representing Christ.

The construction of the Sagrada Familia basilica started in 1882, directed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who devoted his life to it. When people said that the construction had taken a very long time, Gaudí replied that he was building the church for God, and that his client wasn't in a hurry. He then became known as "God's Architect."

In 1926, Gaudí got run over by a street car. Because of his raggedy attire and empty pockets, no one wanted to take him to the hospital. Eventually, he was taken to a pauper's hospital where no one recognized him until his friends found him and tried to move him to another hospital. Gaudí refused, saying that he belonged with the poor, and died a few days later.

Because Gaudí refused to work with blue prints, preferring to use his imagination and memory instead, construction of La Sagrada Familia was halted after his death. Part of the church was even burnt during the Spanish Civil War. Construction of La Sagrada Familia was restarted afterwards and continues until today.

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral (Image Credit: kirkh [Flickr])

St. Basil's Cathedral at night (Image Credit: rwike77 [Flickr])

As its name implies, St. Basil's Cathedral [wiki] on the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, is named after Saint Basil (who is also known as Basil Fool for Christ). The story goes that in the 1500s, an apprentice shoemaker/serf named Basil stole from the rich to give to the poor. He also went naked, weighed himself with chains, and rebuked Ivan the Terrible for not paying attention in church. Most of the time, admonishing anyone with name "the Terrible" wasn't such a good idea, but apparently Ivan had a soft spot for the holy fool (as Basil was also known) and ordered a church to be built in his name after Basil died.

St. Basil's Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church, sports a series of colorful bulbous domes that taper to a point, aptly named onion domes, that are part of Moscow's Kremlin skyline (although the church is actually not part of the Kremlin).

Oh, and Ivan the Terrible lived up to his name after he supposedly blinded the architect who built the church so he would not be able to design something as beautiful afterwards.

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia (Image Credit: Sloppy Stephen [Flickr])

Simply a gorgeous night photo of Hagia Sophia (Image Credit: Qaoz [Flickr])

Technically, Hagia Sophia [wiki] (Greek for the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God) is no longer a church, it is now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. It began its life as an early Christian church, then rebuilt as the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople, then a mosque when the city fell to the Turks in 1453 before it finally became a museum.

Hagia Sophia as we know it today was completed by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 537. When completed, the temple was so large and richly decorated that Justinian proclaimed "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!". It remained the largest church for one thousand years after it was completed.

Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, with a large central dome and interior intricately decorated with mosaics, marbles, and stone inlays. The dome, often referred to as the vault of heaven, was a new architectural feature at the time, necessitating the invention of a new pillar support system.

Today, the restoration of Hagia Sophia is a delicate balance of restoring Christian iconographic mosaics under historic Islamic art, which would have to be destroyed to reveal the work underneath.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica (Image Credit: dionc [Flickr])

St. Peter's Basilica at night (Image Credit: MichaelTurk [Flickr])

Cupola or dome of St. Peter's Basilica (Image Credit: robert_562 [Flickr])

Ornately detailed interior of the St. Peter's Basilica (Image Credit: scot2342 [Flickr])

The largest religious building in the world, not to mention the center of Christianity, I suppose, belongs in this list. St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is built over the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle, and is the largest church in the tiny country. It is truly immense: the church covers an area of 5.7 acres (2.3 ha) and has a capacity of over 60,000 people.

Before St. Peter's Basilica as we know it was built, there was already a church there built in 324 C.E. by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome. That church lasted for about 1,200 years until the crumbling structure was torn down to build the modern-day basilica. St. Peter's Basilica was built by the who's who of the Renaissance era: Michelangelo designed the dome, Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the main square, and Donato Bramante was the first architect of the church.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame HDR (Image Credit: Delox - :: SK :: EU :: [Flickr])

Notre Dame at night (Image Credit: Atoma [wiki])

Interior HDR of Notre Dame (Image Credit: mircea tudorache [Flickr]). [Update 5/9/07: Oops, not Notre Dame de Paris. It's Notre Dame in Montreal. Still, I left it up because it is quite a beautiful photo.]

Another interior picture of Notre Dame (Image Credit: eugene [Flickr])

South Rose Window of Notre Dame (Image Credit: robert_562 [Flickr])

Notre Dame de Paris [wiki] or simply Notre Dame is the quintessential example of Gothic Architecture. Construction of the church started in 1163, when Bishop Maurice de Sully decided to build a cathedral befitting his status as the bishop of Paris. Notre Dame was completed some 200 years later - one of the first European cathedrals to be built on a truly monumental scale.

A particularly striking feature of Notre Dame are its Rose Windows - massive (at the time they were the largest windows in the world) circular stained glass windows that depict scenes from the bible.

Legend has it that when Notre Dame's bell "Emmanuel" was recast in the 1600s, women threw their gold jewelry into the molten metal to give the bell its unique ring.

At the end of the 18th century, during the French Revolution, the church was ransacked, its treasures plundered and many of the statues of saints were beheaded. Notre Dame was dedicated to the Cult of Reason and then the Cult of the Supreme Being - for a while, it was even used as a barn!

In 1831, Notre Dame was made famous by Victor Hugo, who wrote "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," about Quasimodo, a hunchback bell ringer who fell in love with the Gypsy Esmeralda. The popularity of the book spurred a gothic revival in France and helped the restoration of the cathedral back to its original splendor.


Hallgrímskirkja (Image Credit: Andreas Tille [wiki])

Hallgrímskirkja [wiki] (Icelandic for the Church of Hallgrímur), the tallest building in Iceland, is named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, a 17th century poet and clergyman.

The church's unusual design (some had likened it to a rude hand gesture) is supposed to represent volcanic columns rising between the steeple tower - a reference to Iceland's many volcanoes.

The iconic building looks like it belongs in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Indeed, many aspects of Tolkien's work was inspired by Norse mythologies and many of the fictional names in the book are Norse in origin, although there is no reference that Hallgrímskirkja served as a model any of the towers in the book.

Jubilee Church

Richard Meier's Jubilee Church (Image Credit: alaninabox [Flickr])

Back view of the church (Image Credit: alaninabox[Flickr])

You can't miss the distinctive curved walls of The Jubilee Church [wiki] in Tor Tre Teste, Rome. It was designed in 1996 by architect Richard Meier, who said that the modern-styled church is the "the crown jewel of the Vicariato di Roma's (Archdiocese of Rome) Millennium project." And right he was!

The curved walls not only serve the engineering purpose of minimizing thermal peak loads in the interior space, they are also a religious methapor:

Three circles of equal radius generate the profiles of the three shells that, together with the spine-wall, make up the body of the nave. While the three shells discretely imply the Holy Trinity, the reflecting pool symbolizes water in the ritual of Baptism.

Notre Dame du Haut

Notre Dame du Haut or Ronchamp (Image Credit: jimgrant [Flickr])

If there was a church modeled after Elvis' hair, Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut is it. The pilgrimate chapel is located in Ronchamp, France. Indeed, it is more famous than the little town that most people simply call the structure itself Ronchamp.

The cleverness of unusual design of the billowing concrete roof is apparent when it rains: water pours off the slanted roof onto a fountain, creating a dramatic waterfall.

Although quite different from his usual design, Notre Dame du Haut is considered one of Le Corbusier's finest work.

The Crystal Cathedral

Crystal Cathedral (Image Credit: richmanwisco [Flickr])

Interior of the Crystal Cathedral, notice the giant organ (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Another view of the interior (Image Credit: Savannah Grandfather [Flickr])

The Crystal Cathedral [official site | wiki] is neither made of crystal nor is it a cathedral. Nevertheless, the Christian megachurch in the city of Orange Garden Grove, California, is one amazing church.

Built by "The Hour of Power" televangelist Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller (who started out with a "drive-in" church located in an actual, old drive-in movie theater!) and his wife Arvella, and designed by architect Philip Johnson, the church is made almost entirely out glass with a web-like framework of steel.

From the outside, the Crystal Cathedral is shaped like a giant four-pointed crystal star, with the main "cathedral" rising 12 stories above the ground, featuring a mirror-like exterior composed of some 12,000 panes of glass. The view is even more amazing from the interior, where the transparent glass lets in the surrounding view, sunlight and the sky.

The Crystal Cathedral also has one of the largest pipe organs in the world, called the Hazel Wright Pipe Organ, with 5 consoles controlling 270 ranks, 31 digital ranks, and more than 16,000 pipes!

Bonus: Darth Vader Grotesque

Waaaay up near the top of the tower of the Washington National Cathedral, there is a carved grotesque (a structural element to deflect rainwater from the building, similar to a gargoyle) shaped like ... Darth Vader!

How did the Star Wars villain get there? Turns out in the 1980s, the Cathedral sponsored a sculpture design competition for children. Four winning designs were chosen: a raccoon, a girl with pigtails and braces, a man with large teeth and an umbrella, and lastly, Darth Vader.

If you must know, the Darth sculpture was proposed by Christopher Rader of Kearney, Nebraska.

Bonus: The Abston Church of Christ

Amy Hughes' LEGO Church

Computer programmer Amy Hughes built a fantastically detailed 7 feet by 5 1/2 feet by 30 inches miniature church out of LEGO, called the Abston Church of Christ.

Why Abston? That's because LEGO is made out of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). It took her over a year to build the church.

Bonus: The Dog Chapel

Stephen Huneck's Dog Chapel, complete with statue of a man walking his dog

After his dogs (and loving wife!) helped him recover from a serious illness that doctors thought would kill him, artist Stephen Huneck decided to build a chapel in honor man's best friend.

Huneck built the dog chapel on his mountain-top farm in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Inside, there are four pews with dog sculptures, a fantastic dog stained-glass window and other interesting dog-themed arts.

Let me be the first to acknowledge that this list is far from complete. There are hundreds more of magnificent churches around the world. If your favorite church is not included, it is not a slight - please leave your suggestion in the comment section.

La sagrada familia is threatened by a hi speed train project. Read http://www.worldtravelguide.net/news/2838/news/Barcelona-rail-tunnel-threat-to-Gaudi's-Sagrada-Familia.html for more info
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The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool is pretty impressive. It kind of looks like the dwelling for a thundercats villain.


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I'm not sure 8,9 and 10 belong there, I would say they were more ugly then divinely inspired.

Also, the dome wasn't a new feature for Hagia sophia, it had been around for at least a couple of thousand years before that (Treasury of Atreus for example). The innovation was the system of pendentives they came up with to support the round down on a square base.
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The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is definitely worthy of being on the list. It was the world's tallest building at its completion in the late 19th C. (it was started in the 13th century!) and remains one of the world's greatest examples of gothic architecture. If you are ever in Cologne, be sure to visit it, climb the tower, and see the treasury which contains a lot of remarkable art, scupture, and reliquaries. Check out the cathedral at:

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I think that the most beautiful churchs are S. Pablo, in Valladolid (Spain)


and the Leon´s Cathedral (Spain too)


It´s HUGE and the interior is Shiny
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That huge cathedral in the middle of Africa is pretty neat, if not perhaps inappropriate:

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The interior shot that you have posted for Notre Dame de Paris is pretty, but it's actually a shot of the interior of Notre Dame de Montreal. An honest mistake, since they're both absolutely stunning cathedrals.
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Minor error - the Crystal Cathedral is in Garden Grove, CA (in Orange County), rather than Orange Grove.

I attended a wedding there once. The inside kind of reminded me of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with all kinds of greenery in unexpected locations.

(Also, they advertise a "Glory of Christmas" pageant every year, with live camels and sheep and whatnot. They are nothing if not dramatic.)
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The pictures at http://www.henrikin.fi/kappeli/kuva-arkisto.html of St. Henrik's chapel in Finland do not do justice to its simple beauty and soft light. A 360 degree view is available at http://www.virtualturku.fi/360/kirkot/taidekappeli/taidekappeli.htm

Its simple, small and very soothing.
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Great List! You should consider putting a quick bullet version of it on ListAfterList.com. There are already thousands of lists just like it (and you can send people back here for the full article.)

Check it out
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Tadao Ando's churches in Japan (specifically the Church of Light and the Church on the Water) could be considered modern interpetations of the traditional Christian building with a healthy dose of nature thrown in. It's surprising to see no mention of them here.
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The "White Church" in Germany is another great addition to this list.
What you can't see in detail in that photo is the "Christ in chains" statue behind the alter.

There's an amazing story to that statue, and the story of the church (it's in the middle of a field - alone, and looking brilliant!).

When I visited this church in the 80's and 90's, it was under heavy construction (local military exercises and years of wear were showing). Now it appears to be in final repair and looks incredible!
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One of my favorites is the Chapel of the Transfiguration in Jackson Hole, WY. The building itself isn't impressive, a simple log cabin chapel. It is the view out the picture window that couldn't be more perfect. No stained glass needed.

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Please, put the Brasilia Cathedral (Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

It´s awsome
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A synagogue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was honored yesterday as a national historic landmark:
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The Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was built over a period of 40 years (1853-1893) and is quite impressive, particularly for a group of people just getting going.

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I'm surprised not to see the Seville's Cathedral in this list because "It is the largest of all Roman Catholic cathedrals (Saint Peter's Basilica not being a cathedral) and also the largest Medieval Gothic religious building". More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seville_Cathedral
Wicked blog btw^^
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Hi! I vote for The Cologne Dome / Cologne Cathedral to be included in the list. (I'm proud to see that I'm not the first one to suggest it :o))

It's location right smack next to the train station makes it even more gigantic. One walks out of the train station to be immediately faced by this majestic giant. You just look up...and up...and up...there is truly no words to describe it.
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I have to say that I think that the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are far nicer in design and functionality than those shown above. They are majestic and elegant buildings truly built as houses of the Lord. The designs and materials are *exquisite* for each one and they are often designed to blend in to their surrounding environments which is very interesting in and of itself. I have to say that I favor a few in particular, however they are all magnificent. In terms of their practicality, they are also designed amazingly well. I have heard some statistics where they will withstand some of the most severe earthquakes and disasters so the foundational work that you don't see is really just as spectacular.
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One of my favorite bands, The Alan Parsons Project, did an album inspired by Gaudi's life, called, well, "Gaudi." It includes a song called "La Sagrada Familia." There was a musical as well, but I don't think it ever performed in the States. I have a German import CD of it. Because of this music, it's now one of my ambitions to make it to Barcelona someday and see Gaudi's architecture.

Thank you for the link. Gorgeous pictures!
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Durham Cathedral, in the north east of England, ought to be on the list too. In a BBC poll a couple of years ago, it was voted the UK's favourite building not long ago. And Bill Bryson thinks its wonderful, too.
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"Indeed, many aspects of Tolkien’s work was inspired by Norse mythologies and many of the fictional names in the book are Norse in origin, although there is no reference that Hallgrímskirkja served as a model any of the towers in the book."

well duh, i doubt the church could serve as a model for any towers, considering the church was finished in 1986, and Lord of the Rings was published in 1954, almost 30 years earlier. jeez, who writes this stuff?
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The Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko) in Helskinki is rather unprepossessing from the outside--but spectacular on the inside. And once inside you understand why the exterior is what it is--it's built into the rock there.
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Liking the list, no doubt you could have made it 100 and we'd still be finding missing buildings!

I liked the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (which I remember as The Duomo, Florence); and the Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourvière atop the cliff overlooking Lyon in France. Awesome position (impossible to ignore), and as I've been brought up protestant, I found the interior absolutely stunning.
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I had to throw this in....


..former home of the cosmic mass, before it was moved to Oakland.
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The temple in Mo. is by the RLDS (Reorganized Latter-day Saints or now known as Community of Christ). I've personally never really liked the corkscrew-like structure they built there. Its certainly neat, but very much lacking in many areas.
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"La Sagrada Familia [official site | wiki], or Catalan for "The Holy Family", is a yet-to-be-finished Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, Spain."

"La Sagrada Familia" is not in catalan.In catalan it is "La Sagrada Família". It is written in spanish or castilian ;) .
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St. Ann Churc in Vilnius, Lithuania

It was built using 33 different kinds of clay bricks. (picture illustrates this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Annes_Church_Facade.jpg)

There is a well-known legend that Emperor Napoleon, after seeing the church during the course of the Franco-Russian War in 1812, expressed a wish to carry the church home with him to Paris 'in the palm of his hand'. In reality, however, he gave it to his cavalry instead.
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I didnt think Churches were designed to please a deity, but rather to reflect Human creativity and ideas about divinity. essentially, they are designed to be places for human reflection.

Even if you disagree with Christian thought, surely you can appreciate the value of human expression through arcitecture. If not then many great archeological works Ancient and Modern become a "waste of money and effort".
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Article writer is a moron. I see no evidence to suggest that god has designed these churches. In fact, the architects of record are quite clearly human, meaning the headline is utterly inaccurate.

"Amazingly designed chruches" is accurate.

"Divinely designed churches" is religious bullshit.
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Thanks for the corrections, Nina, Cobwebs, Steve, and Protogenes. I've fixed the errors.

Aragost, Hallgrímskirkja was commissioned in 1937 and Tolkien started to write LOTR between 1937 and 1949. I think it's entirely possible (although there is no evidence for it as outlined in the article) that Tolkien had heard of the project.

Mobius, see additional definition of divine (other than being a deity) from The American Heritage Dictionary: "supremely good or beautiful; magnificent."
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“Divinely designed churches” is religious bullshit

Ummm, Mobius, I think since the subject matter is churches using the word Divine is completely appropriate. Since it's many definitions include: addressed, appropriated, or devoted to God. Are churches not intended as a devotion to God?

Another meaning is:of superhuman or surpassing excellence Do these buildings not fit that description?
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Especially the old ones, modern architectrure lacks beautiful detail. But why the hell has good architecture to be build around religious belief?

No one having to do better than building this beauty for a thought? Build it for someone, or at least some thing (conzept). If you are sure thet a god exists, he will hate you for being unable to use the power of understanding he gave you.
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Two churches that should definitely be considered:

The all-steel Eiffel-designed church in Baja California Sur, Santa Rosalia.

The cathedral in Avila which is actually a retrofitted Moorish mosque! I've been there, and it's a strange but harmonious blend of styles.
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There is a church entirely made of Cast Iron.
A Bulgarian orthodox church in Istanbul

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I dunoo about the "Notre Dame du Haut" it doesn't look divinely inspired to me. The two modern ones are questionable too but they are quite unique churches. I think St. Peter's should have been higher up on the list.
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#6, mejores vistas de la Catedral de Leon en:
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Very interesting post!!


There is a church in Red Deer Alberta Canada...St Mary's Church built in 1968 and at that time was very out there. The entire structure...walls...roofline even the roof itself is curved !! Bare brick inside...the floor slopes a little towards the altar. The coolest thing about this church is it is the first building in the entire world that was built with computer assistance.

Thank you :)
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There has been discussion about the temple built in Independence, MO. It is indeed Community of Christ (certainly NOT Mormon). But, it is NOT a corkscrew, as previously mentioned. Perhaps whoever said that (and anyone else interested) should tour it (all are welcome--free tours and organ recitals, as well as daily prayers for peace and lots of church services are held there).

It is a nautilus shell.
Here are a couple of pics:
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And, though this isn't an actual church, it is used as a church often:

Right across the street from the Temple I listed just above.
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Another wonderful cathedral,(I thnik hat is the best) is Burgos Cathedral,the most beatiful gothic cathedral (with leon's) in Spain
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Thanks for stopping by my Island.

Well God is the architect of all things, Jesus was a carpentar; so it's natural He puts up some cool places.
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Dunedin NZ has some awesome churchs. There is the First Church:

St Pauls Cathedral and St Joseph's Cathedral :

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Magnificent. Ironic that the world's most splendid architecture was inspired by something which requires no building at all. Jesus was not impressed by ceremony or displays of grandeur and would have been just as pleased with an open field or a simple structure, if anything at all.

Like religion itself it is more for the mortal and the egos of priests or rulers to show off on the world stage. I wonder if the money the poor donated to build these stone jewels would not have been better spent on the needy themselves; but that is one of the many ironies of religion.

Perhaps one day the Pope will hold a divine auction and give the cash to what God would like to spend it on instead of hoarding it for no good reason. That's Catholicism for you.... They are just a bunch of old drag queens in gaudy dresses putting on a show on very fancy stages. They, the buildings are never-the-less truly splendid and a testament to the glory of man's talent and craftsmanship.... oh, yes - and the wonder of the magic man in the sky.
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I didn't read all the entries above.
A church that is also missing on the list is
This Czech Republic's church's interior is full of human bones ...
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Two magnificant church buildings you should consider adding to your list are:

1. Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC

2. The chapel at the US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.

Pastor Art
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Here is the link to the Air Force Academy Chapel:


Here is the link to Washington National Cathedreal.


Pastor Art
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It's not a cathedral, per se, just a parish church, but a personal favorite of mine; what I like isn't so much the architecture as the art - Old St Pat's in Chicago.

This really doesn't do it justice, but here's a link.


More pictures here (among other Chi. churches)

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Have you looked into the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood in St Petersburg, Russia?? The interior boasts the most mosaics (murals with semi-precious stones) than any other religious monument/building in the world. Here is a link:
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Here is another link with mosaic photos of St Petersburg's Our Savior Church in Russia: http://mosaik.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/the-church-of-the-saviour-on-spilled-blood/
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Does anybody know about Sevilla's Cathedral? It's pretty impressive too. Actually, it's one of the cathedrals represented for it's length compared to St. Peter in the Vaticane, wich means this is one of the biggest catholic churches in the world, and it's also more than 500 years old.
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I'm the author of the picture named "Interior HDR of Notre Dame" see well above.
No wwhen you look at this pic on the flickr is never mentioned even once is a HDR picture. The reason: is not!!!
Is just a picture I was taken with my modest film camera on the tripod. No photoshop what so ever!
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Well for somebody who's a complete, radical atheist, I must say I've been swept off my feet by Santa Maria del Fiore (The Duomo) in Florence. It's absolutely your biggest mistake not to include it in the list. More so because it was the first of the grandiose renaissance churches and a template for St. Peter’s Basilica. Not to mention Brunelleschi's (the architect and engineer) pioneering constructional techniques, I mean the guy was a freak... You try building it with medieval mortar and bricks, getting them up there using an ox driven hoist... Unbelievable, there must've been aliens involved...
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i must tell the people of neatorama that this looks good, but you missed:


too bad i dont have more information about them in english, but they are huge and around 100 or so, in the main island of Chiloe and in some of the smaller islands. Build completly with wood, even wooden nails !
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How about Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Kiev (Kyiv). Those are like nothing else, whith some of them being almost a 1000 years old:

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

Kiev Pechersk Lavra

St Andrew's Church

Saint Sophia Cathedral

St Volodymyr's Cathedral
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Sri Swaminarayan aka BAPS temple in Chicago.

Beautiful intricate hand-carved marble and wood. ALL of it built by volunteers strictly out of love for God.

They even have fiberoptic strands running through the marble so that at night the whole thing lights up.

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I'm from Iceland too, I was looking at the picture and noticed it was wrong, really wrong, anyone who has seen the church should see that the church is photo shopped, it looks too wide down below. . .
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I agree with the above comments regarding Mormon temples. There are several that are quite spectacular. I don't think the one in D.C. was mentioned, but it comes to mind and is definitely worth looking up.

As a Texan, I can't imagine any list of beautiful churches omitting Mision San Antonio de Valero. I apologize for this in advance, but you just gotta "Remember the Alamo." Now a museum/visitor center/tourist attraction, etc., it is nonetheless hallowed ground. The history of the Alamo is obviously part of what makes it such a powerful image, but it is a striking building.

As a side note, the Alamo is part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. At least a couple of the missions are active parishes. I attended mass with a Catholic family member, at Mission San Jose if I remember correctly, and it was really cool.
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