These are most beautiful Best attractive Churches & Great Awesome & Famous cathedrals Pictures HD Wallpapers in the World , Churches have served as spiritual centers as far back as the 3rd century. Then as now, churches provide a meeting place for people to worship, to contemplate, to pray. Over the centuries, people have built churches as testimonials to a higher power, and because of this, churches often are the most remarkable architectural structures on the landscape.
Aesthetics vary from country to country, and there is no question that beauty is indeed in the “eye of the beholder”. Still, there are some churches so unusual, and so striking that they transcend cultural differences. Here is a list of 15 that might be considered to be among the most beautiful churches in the world. You may not be a follower of the faith, but you will probably agree that these buildings are exceptional.
Las Lajas Sanctuary, Columbia
This breathtaking basilica cathedral rises some 100m (300ft) from the floor of the canyon of the Guaitara River. Spanning the canyon walls is a 50m (160ft) bridge which gives the church a majestic quality. The site for the Sanctuary is based on a local legend of the Virgin Mary appearing to a mother and daughter, originating in the mid 1750’s. The pair were caught in a horrible storm, and shielded themselves from the weather in the large canyon rocks (Lajas). According to legend, a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared, and remains on the Laja to this day. A memorial built in honor of the miraculous event served as the basis for the present Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas. The Sanctuary retains a Gothic Revival style, with construction occurring from 1916 – 1949. It is difficult not to be in awe of this architectural achievement.
Grundtvig’s Church, Denmark
Grundtvig’s Church is a particularly wonderful example of a unique architectural design that combines traditional elements with modern nuances. The designer, Peder Villhelm Jensen-Klint, was particularly concerned with creating a building that incorporated the natural building materials and styles typically seen in Denmark, with geometric Expressionism. The result is a building with magnificently elevated Gothic features. This is most strikingly achieved in the west façade, where the imposing structure resembles the pipes of a church organ, ever enticing the eye of the viewer upward. The church was initially commissioned in 1913, but construction was not started until the early 1920’s, and not completed until 1940. The church, located in Copenhagen, is made of millions of yellow brick—a traditional building material in Denmark—and the interior plan is modeled after a typical Gothic church, with little decoration or adornments.
This remarkable church was designed to reflect the features of cascading lava flows that are so characteristic of the country of Iceland. Construction on Hallgrimur continued for decades, from 1845 – 1986, and the design of the building—best described as Expressionistic—remains strikingly new and fresh. The church is significant for many reasons, not the least of which is that it reaches 73m (about 244 ft) at its peak, surpassing all other churches in Iceland. The church also has an impressively large pipe organ, which has been featured on numerous CDs. Hallgrimur acts as a major landmark for the city of Reykjavik, and the church can be seen regardless of where you are in the city. Many visitors take advantage of the church’s observation tower, which offers spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Winchester Cathedral, England
There are many cathedrals in England that could be described as breathtaking. Winchester Cathedral has a special status, though. It is the longest Gothic cathedral in Europe and one of the oldest in England. The origins of the cathedral date back to the 7th century (circa 642), with religious communities being established at this early site by the later part of the 10th century. The architectural styles offered in the cathedral include the early pre-Norman influences, as well Norman and Gothic designs. The cathedral is replete with memorial statues and busts, and works of art. Its massive medieval stained glass window was reconstructed, piece by piece, in a totally random fashion, after being destroyed during the Civil War by followers of Cromwell. The 14 church bells of the cathedral are unlike any found in the world with the heaviest weighing approximately 4,000lbs.
Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel, France
It may not be mighty, but this little chapel is one of the most unique structures in the world. It is built at the very top of what is described as a needle-shaped volcanic rock, the rock alone, extends over 85m (about 280 ft). A series of 268 stone steps provide the only means of ascent to the chapel, and the walkway of steps allows visitors beautiful views of the city of Aiguilhe. Scholars estimate the original chapel was built around 962CE, although the structure was significantly expanded in the 12th century. The location of the chapel has been revered since pre-historic times, however, being used as a dolmen, or site for tombs, and the site was also used by the Romans to venerate Mercury, messenger of the Gods. In spite its small stature, the chapel is popular with pilgrims because of its charm and simplicity.
Sagrada Familia, Spain
This basilica, located in Barcelona, was begun in the late 19th century, and construction on it continues today. It is without doubt one of the most imposing and august buildings in the world. The original design, under the influence of Antoni Gaudi, included elements of Spanish Late Gothic and Catalan Noucentisme, making it truly distinctive. Gaudi’s original plan included 3 façades, and 18 spires. The façades, two of which are completed, are vastly different in their ornamentation and feel. The Nativity façade, which faces to the East, was the first to be completed and reflects pleasant symbols of nature, whereas the Passion façade, facing West, is characterized by distressing representations of the crucifixion, and illustrates the consequences of a sinful life. Once the final central spire is completed, the basilica will be the tallest church structure in the world, measuring 170m (560ft) in height.
Duomo, Milan Cathedral, Italy
This is perhaps the most contentious example on the list, as the Duomo de Milano is divisive: some regard it as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, while others describe it as a horrific, illogical combination of styles. Formally started in the late 1380’s, the cathedral boasts an impressive number of architects and designers till its completion in the mid 1960’s. The building is primarily made of brick, with marble facings. In addition to the sometimes odd combination of stylistic structures, critics note that the quality of work varies dramatically, with some details looking particularly amateurish when compared with other work. It is among the largest churches in the world, and one of the grandest cathedrals in Italy. Regardless of its aesthetic appeal, the intensive labor that has gone into the cathedral over the centuries makes the Duomo de Milano worthy of respect.
Church of Arbore, Romania
This humble building is one of only 8 remaining Moldavian painted churches. Wealthy landowner, Luca Arbore, funded construction in the early 1500’s as a tribute to St. John the Baptist. Due to its unassuming size, the structure was completed in under 6 months. What it lacks in stature, the church makes up for in its fresco paintings, however. Work on both interior and exterior paintings started in the early 1540’s, taking about 40 years to complete. The paintings—attributed to Drogos Coman—feature a principally green background, and combine stunning color palates that to this day are difficult to replicate. The West and South exterior walls offer illustrations of The Cavalcade of the Constantine Emperor, and the Hymns of the Prayers to the Virgin. The characters depicted in the scenes often have relaxed gestures, which are atypical of religious frescos, and give the paintings an unusual warmth and intimacy.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
This magnificent building is situated in the center of Red Square, Moscow. Constructed in the mid-16th century, the cathedral no longer operates as a place of worship, now being a museum. Many scholars regard the cathedral different from all other buildings constructed during the 1000 years of Byzantium design that dominated Russian architecture. The cathedral is made up of 8 churches, arranged evenly around a core church. The large, core church is not centered, however. This results in the cathedral looking different, depending on the side of viewing. Views from the western façade present a structure that is symmetrical, whereas viewing from northern or southern façades offers an entirely different skyline. The cathedral is renowned for its unusually painted domes. Visitors are encouraged to visit the cathedral at night, as the colors are spectacular when viewed against sunset and the darkness of evening.
Church of St. George, Ethiopia
The Church of St. George is situated in the town of Lalibela, legendary for its monolithic religious buildings. The church was constructed in the late 12th – 13th centuries. It is said the then reigning king was given instruction to build the church by a supernatural being, with some sources suggesting that it was St. George who appeared to the monarch. The architectural achievement of the church is astounding: a cruciform shape, carved out of a single volcanic rock, with a tunnel and trench enabling access to the entrance to the building, the church lies some 12m (nearly 40ft) below ground level. The simplistic, yet intricate design of the exterior and interior of the church attests to the peerless skills of Ethiopia’s stone masons. The church continues to be a holy site for pilgrims, and many scholars understandably consider it as one of the “wonders of the ancient world”.
Thorncrown Chapel, USA
The American Institute of Architects bestowed this chapel, and its designer, E. Fay Jones, the prestigious National Honor Award as one of the top 10 buildings of the 20th century. Jones is quoted as saying the style is “Ozark Gothic”, and mandated that only natural materials be used. While a steel structure is used for internal support, the major building materials are pine from which wooden trusses were made, and native flagstone and rock indigenous to area. The designer restricted the size of the pieces–only those which could be moved manually by two workers were allowed–and larger structures were put together on site. Having 425 windows, the chapel undergoes dramatic changes as the natural light moves through the trees amongst which the structure is built. Because of this, the chapel appears different not only at different hours of the day, but also different seasons of the year.
Basilica de Higuey, Dominican Republic
This cathedral is formally known as the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia, reflecting its status as a shrine to the Virgin Mary. A massively imposing building, the current cathedral was constructed from concrete in the 1950’s, and features arches that extend over 79m (approximately 260ft) in the air. The design reflects modern architectural stylization, as well as traditional elements that are so important to the residents of Higuey. The interior contains stunning stained glass windows, framed by massive arches, giving the cathedral a resplendence that is hard to surpass. Known internationally as one of the earliest shrines to the Virgin Mary, the cathedral houses a painting, the Virgen de la Altagracias, which is believed to be brought by Spanish missionaries in the mid 16th century. Each year on January 21st, thousands of devotees arrive at the cathedral to pay homage to the painting.
Borgund Stave Church, Norway
This delightful church is regarded as the best example of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway. Stave churches—built with wooden boards, or staves—were constructed by the Vikings during the late 12th and mid-13th centuries. It is estimated that as many as 2000 pieces of logs, timber, and boards were used in the construction of the Borgund Stave church. The Vikings built the church on stone foundations, which better protected the stave boards against rot. The church was designed after the Vikings had turned away from the “old customs”, or folk paganism, and the carvings on Borgund reflect this shift in beliefs. The church also has four dragon heads emerging from the roof gables. These dragonheads are reminiscent of those that adorned the bows of the ancient Viking ships and likely served as safeguards against evil life forces.
The Green Church, Argentina
Little information is available about this church, and yet, it is a common item on many travel blogs for Buenos Aires. Formally known as Huerto de Olives, or Garden of Olives, the parish was formed in the late 19th century, and the building was completed by the late 1930’s. No details are available regarding the breathtakingly lush, thick carpet of ivy, which nearly engulfs the entire building, and gives the church a velvety appearance. In addition to its dazzling color, the ivy has been sculpted so precisely that every detail of the underlying architectural structure is discernible. Emerging from the ivy is a metallic cross, which sits atop the arched entrance to the church. Although the history of the building is still uncertain, the Green Church is a uniquely stunning example of the union between architectural vision and horticultural skills.
Paoay Church (St. Augustine’s Parish), Philippines
Upon first viewing, the Paoay church might give the impression of a Mesoamerican building, with its stepped, pyramid-like structure. In fact, its architectural influences are diverse, including Gothic, Asian and Baroque designs. The church, first constructed by Augustinian friars in the 18th century, is noted for 24 massive buttresses that provide the support for the building. These buttresses measure an extraordinary 1.67m thick (nearly 5.5ft), and were intended to provide sufficient solidity and strength so as to protect the building against earthquakes, which are common occurrences in the country. The walls of the church are a combination of coral stone and bricks, and the mortar reflects a traditional mixture of sand, lime, animal skins, straw from rice, and fruit and vegetable juices. Next to the church is a separate bell tower, built much later. It shows an Asian influence, and bears a strong resemblance to a pagoda.