The INSIDER Summary:
- European countries are known for having beautiful historic churches.
- The Milan Cathedral in Italy has a beautiful marble facade, and it took over six centuries to complete.
- The Rijeka Islamic Center in Croatia is a uniquely designed mosque that incorporates both modern and traditional elements.
If you’re looking into taking a vacation with equal parts history and beautiful architecture, chances are European countries are at the top of your list.
European countries are popular vacation destinations for many reasons, and beautiful historic architecture is just one of them. Visiting a place of worship, whether it be Westminster Abbey in London, England, or the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba in Córdoba, Spain, is a great way to learn the history and culture of the local area.
Keep reading for 22 of the most beautiful churches in Europe that you need to visit in your lifetime.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
When you think of historic European churches, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is probably not the first image that pops into your head.
There’s nothing quite like Antoni Gaudí’s style of architecture, and this Roman Catholic church is the ultimate example of that.
While Gaudí began working on the church in 1886, it remains unfinished to this day. Only 70% of the church is completed, and it is estimated to be finished in 2026. However, the Sagrada Familia is still breathtakingly beautiful, from the unique spires on the outside to the intricate stained glass on the inside.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
St. Basil’s Cathedral was completed back in 1560 after being commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, although its beautiful design and unique architecture are still in great condition.
Located in the Red Square in Moscow, the church is now a museum. It only holds one service per year, on the Day of Intercession in October.
Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, France
The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel looms over the small surrounding village on an isolated island off the coast of France’s Normandy region.
The history of the church dates all the way back to the year 709, when Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, built a small church on the site.
By the 12th century, a large abbey and monastery had been constructed on the site. Today, visitors can visit the isolated town and hike to the top of the island for incredible views and breathtaking architecture.
Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland
Hallgrimskirkja is one of the most unique architectural wonders in Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik.
The futuristic-looking church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937, although it wasn’t completed until 1986. Regarding the church’s unique shape, Samúelsson is said to have taken inspiration from the way lava looks as it cools on basalt rock.
Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is a sight nearly everyone recognizes. However, less than 60 miles from Paris is the Chartres Cathedral, which is a stunning work of architecture that rivals the famous Notre-Dame.
With its flying buttresses and stained glass windows, UNESCO calls the cathedral a “high point of French Gothic art” and “a masterpiece.”
Grundtvig Church, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is known for being a capital of modern Danish design. The Grundtvig Church is beautiful on the outside, but the cavernous hall and towering arches on the inside are truly spectacular.
Since Copenhagen is a haven for furniture design, it is only fitting that Kaare Klint, one of the architects on the project, also designed beechwood and wicker chairs for the church.
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
The Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece that has held a variety of purposes over the course of history. It was first used as a church, then a mosque, and now a museum.
The building is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture. Aside from its stunning dome and four minarets framing the exterior, this church also has beautiful mosaics on the inside that date all the way back to the ninth century.
Milan Cathedral, Milan, Italy
Italy is full of beautiful churches, although the Milan Cathedral’s history is what really sets it apart.
You could spend hours admiring the impressive marble facade and intricate sculptures on the exterior before even stepping foot inside, where you’ll find magnificent stained glass windows.
With all its ornate details, it’s no surprise that the cathedral was only completed in the 19th century, after the initial design began back in 1396.
Subotica Synagogue, Subotica, Serbia
The Subotica Synagogue is not only architecturally beautiful, it is also a symbol of survival and resilience for the local community.
Located near the border of Serbia and Hungary, the synagogue was built in 1902 and has survived both World War I and II.
The synagogue has undergone many restorations since 2003 to ensure that it remains a significant cultural landmark.
Borgund Stave Church, Borgund, Norway
Medieval stave churches are constructed entirely of timber, so it’s understandable why not many of them remain standing today.
Norway is home to most of the world’s remaining stave churches, although based on its remote location and lush natural surroundings, the Borgund Stave Church is particularly stunning.
The church was built by craftsmen in the late 12th century and it is still open to visitors today.
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, Lyon, France
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière sits atop a steep hill just outside of downtown Lyon, providing amazing views of the city.
Once inside the magnificent church, you’ll find spectacular gold mosaics and decorations. While the outside of the church provides gorgeous skyline views, visitors can also descend below the main level and view Saint Joseph’s crypt.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
The Notre-Dame Cathedral epitomizes classic French Gothic architecture. Plus, it’s one of Paris’ most recognizable sights.
The gorgeous church is located on Île de la Cité, a small island on the River Seine. If you climb to the top of the cathedral, you’ll not only get a spectacular view of the city, you’ll also get an up- close look at the famous stone gargoyles that guard the church.
Meteora Monasteries, Thessaly, Greece
There’s nothing more serene than a monastery located on a giant rock pillar overlooking the town of Kalambaka, like the Meteora Monasteries, which are located in Thessaly in central Greece.
Despite their isolated location, it is possible for tourists to visit this group of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, many of which still house monks and nuns to this day.
Neue Synagogue, Berlin, Germany
With a capacity of 3,200, the Neue Synagogue in Berlin was Germany’s largest Jewish place of worship when it opened in 1886. The building is known for its stunning gold lattice detailing.
The synagogue was badly damaged during World War II. However, it was rebuilt in the late 1980s, and officially reopened both as a place of worship and a museum in 1995. Today, people can visit the Centrum Judaicum Foundation to learn more about the synagogue’s history.
St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest, Hungary
This neoclassical Roman Catholic church is relatively new compared to many other European churches, since it was completed in 1905. However, St. Stephen’s Basilica’s symmetrical architecture and beautiful dome make the building blend in seamlessly with the rest of the historic city of Budapest.
Relics are an important aspect of many Catholic churches, and St. Stephen’s is no different. The reliquary at this basilica holds the right hand of Saint Stephen, for whom the church is named.
Westminster Abbey, London, England
Aside from being a beautiful Gothic church, Westminster Abbey has been the site of many important royal events over the course of its 700-year history.
Most recently, the abbey hosted the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in a lavish ceremony in 2011. If you love the royals, this church is a must-see since it’s filled with fascinating history about England and the royal family.
Florence Cathedral, Florence, Italy
There’s no better place to take in the beautiful red-roofed city of Florence than from the top of the city’s cathedral, commonly known as the Duomo.
The church is known for its use of white, pink, and green marble on the exterior, as well as Brunelleschi’s famous gilded doors of the Baptistery across the street.
The Florence Cathedral began construction in the 13th century, although it was built on a site of another church from the 7th century. If you visit the Duomo’s crypt, you can still see some of the remains of the original church.
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the center of the Catholic church, so it’s only fitting that it is also the largest church in the world.
The architecture alone is stunning, although there are also amazing historic works of art on the inside. For example, St. Peter’s is home to Michelangelo’s “Pietà” sculpture, as well as many other ornate furnishings and works of art.
Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
Like most historic churches in Europe, the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba has a unique history. As its name suggests, the church has been affiliated with both the Muslim and Christian faiths over the years.
The church’s history dates back to before the 6th century, since historians believe the site was originally used as a temple honoring the Roman god, Janus. In the year 572, Visigoths turned the temple into a church and worshipped there until it became a mosque in 787.
Today, tourists visit the Cathedral-Mosque to explore its diverse religious history and beautiful architecture.
The Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy
The city of Siena, located in Tuscany, is full of beautiful buildings. The Cathedral of Siena is a stunning marble building with an intricately decorated facade. Once you step inside, however, you’ll see tons of art, from floor tiles and mosaics to detailed frescoes on the ceiling.
Particularly striking are the black and white striped marble pillars inside that represent the symbolic colors of the city.
Rijeka Islamic Center, Rijeka, Croatia
The Rijeka Islamic Center is a beautiful mosque that blends historical Ottoman religious architecture with modern geometric elements.
One of the most interesting elements of the new mosque’s construction is that it was actually designed by a sculptor, Dušan Džamonja, rather than a traditional architect.
Džamonja told Islamic Arts Magazine that his structural design gives a “new meaning to the old theme.”
Wieskirche, Steingaden, Germany
Wieskirche, also know as the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, is a beautiful example of the Bavarian Rococo architecture. This unique style is characterized by the use of gold and light colors, whimsical designs, and ornate sculptures and furniture.
The church welcomes over one million visitors every year and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s no surprise why, given the church’s beautiful decorations and art work from the 18th century, all in great condition.
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(Source: http://www.businessinsider.com) The INSIDER Summary: European countries are known for having beautiful historic churches. The Milan Cathedral in Italy has a beautiful marble facade, and it took over six centuries to complete. The Rijeka Islamic Center in Croatia is a uniquely designed mosque that incorporates both modern and traditional elements. If you’re looking into taking a […]
Summer is long gone, but I still have some pictures from my holidays that I haven’t shared yet. I will mix and divide them between two blog posts. This canyon road goes through Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest all the way from Utah to Wyoming. There are countless opportunities for hiking, but with our newborn baby we only […]
|Africa promises one of the best safari experiences in the world, enabling you to see the five big wild animal groups: the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the rhino and the buffalo. Capturing a good photo of these beautiful animals is not always easy, and very often, it comes down to being at the right place at the right time. But, the pictures below are pretty incredible. So, get ready to enjoy some animal watching with this great photo series!|
|Male lion ignoring a group of Thomson’s Gazelles.
Its been a few years now since I took my very first landscape image or used a camera for that matter…Sometimes I look back at my older images from a few months ago and think to myself “what the F$@^! was I thinking!! I learn now how easy it is to fall into that rather large social media trap..And more recently learned how much of a negative impact it can have on a person or there vision. This is something I learned first hand and how I am slowly moving out of that phase, back to when I enjoyed the scene for myself more then for the crowds. For the next few months I will be embarking on a journey to witness natures beautiful moments, I will be changing a lot and evolving as far as my vision grows and also refining processing techniques…
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southwest california wildlife sanctuary / foundation sunset, sunsets, sustainability, environment, ocean, sea, energy
April 1972: The fifth pair of astronauts to visit the moon were the most enthusiastic geologists, bringing home the largest sample ever collected from the moon.
Apollo 16 launched on April 16, 1972 as the tenth crewed Apollo mission, and the fifth to land on the moon. Astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr. spent 71 hours on the lunar surface They completed 20 hours and 14 minutes of moonwalks during three extra-vehicular activities, including driving 26.7 kilometers (16.6 miles) in their lunar rover around the Descartes and Cayley formations. Along with installing a ultraviolet stellar camera on the surface, the duo collected 95.8 kilograms (209 pounds) of lunar samples. In an echo of geologists everywhere, they couldn’t seem to restrain themselves to just the small samples and collected the most massive lunar sample of any Apollo mission.
Big Muley is one hefty rock! Image credit: NASA
Lunar Sample 61016 masses a mighty 11.7 kilograms (26 pounds). The rock bares the nickname “Big Muley,” named for Apollo 16 field geology team leader Bill Muehlberger. Found on the east rim of Plum Crater, researchers suspect it was actually ejected during the impact that formed South Ray crater. The rock is a breccia: a sedimentary rock composed of primary large, angular smaller rock fragments cemented together. The exposed top surface is rounded with a thin patina and micrometeorite zaps; the rest was protected by being buried within the lunar soil. The melted shock fragments within the rock date to 3.97 billion years ago.
David White [left] and William Muehlberger [right] admire the largest lunar sample ever returned, Big Muley (sample 61016). Image credit: NASA
While Young and Duke were busy on the surface, Thomas Ke Mattingly II observed the moon; during the return trip to Earth he and Duke ducked outside for a one-hour spacewalk to retrieve film cassettes from the exterior. The crew returned to Earth just over 11 days after launching, splashing down on April 27th.
Duke and Mattingly (wearing Young’s striped helmet) spacewalking to inspect the Service Module and retrieve film. Image credit: NASA
The mission wasn’t without its hitches. It was the first Apollo mission to be delayed for technical issues, then a fuel tank was damaged during a routine test in the months leading up to launch, requiring replacement. Once the crew reached Earth orbit, the third stage booster developed an attitude control system problem that required in-flight fiddling to fix. The Lunar Module Orion started shedding paint peeling off the aluminum skin, although the astronauts decided it was cosmetic after closer inspection. Soon after, Mattingly spotted a gimbal lock warning light that the spacecraft wasn’t reporting attitude, so had to reorient the guidance system using the Sun and Moon instead.
Lunar Module Orion with Young and Duke on board, heading up to rejoin Mattingly on Casper, their Command Service Module. Image credit: NASA/Thomas K. Mattingly II
The next day, Young and Duke boarded Orion and peeled off for their decent. The lunar module’s engine backup systems malfunctioned, and error that should’ve scrapped the moon landing. Instead, mission controllers determined a workaround, descending to the surface just six hours behind schedule. This squeezed the surface mission schedule, and cut the final moonwalk by a few hours to accede to the demands of both orbital dynamics and sleep.
Young and Duke during a simulated traverse in a training area at the Kennedy Space Center. Image credit: NASA
Top image: Duke [left] and Young [right] on a two-day geology training field trip near Los Angeles. Credit: NASA
by Robin Walter
Morning light spills
through grass thick
small whorls of dust
stamping their lives
into this ground.
to the clatter
This blog is part of an ongoing series following the Rediscover the Prairie expedition, a horseback journey across the Great Plains. To learn more please visit http://ift.tt/1B02Abg
All photos © Robin Walter or Sebastian Tsocanos. All rights reserved.
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