It’s no wonder the fashion capital of the world would also have one of the most beautiful churches, too. Bright, white Milan Cathedral, a.k.a. il Duomo, is a gem among European churches. It took about 600 years to build and remains the largest church in Italy.
St. Peter’s Basilica: Vatican City
In addition to being the world’s largest church, St. Peter’s in Vatican City is gorgeous inside and out. You might recognize this Renaissance-style gem from the Pope’s Christmas and Easter masses, said here and broadcast throughout the world. The church is also the burial site of the first Pope, Apostle St. Peter (among other popes), and it’s considered the center Roman Catholic world .
Notre-Dame Cathedral: Paris
One of the most famous churches in all of the world calls Paris home. Dating back to medieval times (construction began in 1163), this medieval beauty lost much of its religious iconography during the French Revolution, though efforts restore the art and artifacts began as early as 1845, with another phase beginning in 1991. From tales of hunchback bell operators to the beautiful Gothic architecture, it’s hard not to love Notre-Dame.
Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain
This 135-year work in progress is the only incomplete church on the list, but its already incredibly impressive. The Barcelona church was the vision of artist Antoni Gaudí, but he died in 1926 with the project far from complete. The Sagrada Familia expected to be finished in about 10 years, roughly 100 years after Gaudí’s death.
Church on the Lake: Lake Bled, Slovenia
The official name of this church is the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria, however, most just call it the Church on the Lake. The weathered white steeple of this church is what Lake Bled owes most of it’s popularity to. Without this church, it might just be another lake in Slovenia.
St. Stephen’s Basilica: Budapest, Hungary
Not only beautiful from street level, St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest is similarly stunning. For those needing to work off all the delicious Hungarian food, take the 364 stairs to the top for unparalleled city views.
St. Peter’s Church: Riga, Latvia
The belle of this northeastern European city is the high steeple of St. Peter’s Church near the center of the town. The 403-foot-tall weathered copper peak towers over the city; it’s also possible to climb to the top for a great photo op.
Kölner Dom: Cologne, Germany
One of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals, the Dom in Cologne towers over the city and keeps watch along the Rhine River. Feeling ambitious? Take the 533 step climb all the way to the top of the church for some killer views.
Hagia Sophia: Istanbul, Turkey
Although no longer a church, the Hagia Sophia was originally a place of worship for the Greek Orthodox population of Istanbul. The church was later converted into a mosque, and now a museum.
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore: Florence, Italy
Another beautiful renaissance church can be found in the beloved Italian city of Florence. The builders of this church were not afraid to use a bit of color when constructing this grand church.
Catedral de Santa Eulàlia: Barcelona, Spain
Often overshadowed by the Sagrada Familia, the Catedral de Santa Eulàlia in Barcelona is another of Europe’s most beautiful churches.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral: Vienna, Austria
A church dedicated to the favorite saint of Central Europe, St. Stephen’s tower in Vienna cast a long shadow over the streets below. A closer look reveals a mesmerizing colored tile roof and many intricate details.
Hallgrimskirkja: Reykjavik, Iceland
A church like none other can be found in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. This towering ultra-modern take on a church is eye-grabbing, to say the least. Construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986.
St. Vitus Cathedral: Prague
Rising high above the Prague Castle compound of buildings are the Gothic spires of St. Vitus Cathedral. These dramatic features are visible from across the river and across the city.
Borgund Stavkirke: Borgund, Norway
Reminiscent of an Asian temple, this Norwegian stave church in Borgund is far from the ornate stone wonders you see in Europe’s capitals. Instead, it’s made from vertical wooden boards (staves) and has more than six stepped roofs culminating into a cross at the top. It’s considered one of Norway’s best remaining examples of traditional stave-style churches.
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: Sofia, Bulgaria
The beautiful gold and aged copper domes of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia make it an architectural gem. Captivating to look at, it is also one of the largest Eastern Orthodox churches in the world.
Westminster Abbey: London
Every visitor’s favorite church in London is the beautiful Westminster Abbey. In addition to hosting royal weddings, it’s also served as the backdrop to every British monarch’s coronation since 1066. In true Gothic style, the church towers over central London with spires reaching toward the sky.
The Monasteries of Meteora, Greece
Perched high on massive boulders in Meteora are numerous Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Churches high on these rocks were built here as early as the 9th century and some built on 1800-foot-tall cliffs.
Le Mont Saint-Michel: Normandy, France
Among the most picturesque sights made by man has got to be the Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, and at the top is… you guessed it, a church. This island wasn’t always out at sea. When it was built the Le Mont Saint-Michel was on dry land, but as water levels rose it became the fairytale-like island that it is today.