Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano or the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran is the cathedral church of Rome. The church, which is the oldest and highest ranking of the four papal major basilicas, is home to the cathedra of the Roman bishop and is the ecumenical mother church of the Catholic faithful.
Basilica di San Lorenzo di Firenze was consecrated in 393 by Saint Ambrose of Milan. The current church, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, was the parish church of the once-powerful Medici family, which ruled Florence between the 13th and the 17th centuries.
The Basilica di San Marco (formally the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark) was likely built starting in 1063. The Italo-Byzantine and Gothic-inspired cathedral, unlike most others in Italy, is famous for its opulent design and gold ground mosaics, both symbols of Venetian wealth and power. That spawned its nickname Chiesa d’Oro (Church of gold), by which it has been known since the 11th century. It initially served as the chapel of the Doge (the head of the Venetian Republic). It has been the only cathedral in the city since 1807.
Basilica di Santa Croce or Basilica of the Holy Cross is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and the largest Franciscan church in the world. Construction on the church began on May 12, 1294, and the building’s original location was outside the city walls. Legend says St. Francis founded Santa Croce. Some of Italy’s most illustrious Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, are buried in the Santa Croce.
After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake heavily damaged the Christchurch Cathedral, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designed the Cardboard Cathedral pro bono to serve as a transitional cathedral. The Cardboard Cathedral, part of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, opened in August 2013. The A-frame in style structure rises 79 feet tall and uses 86 cardboard tubes sitting on top of 20-foot-long shipping containers. Despite its controversial design, the transitional cathedral is a popular destination for tourists to the city. The Anglican Diocese built the structure on the site of St John the Baptist Church, the first church built in permanent materials by Anglicans in Christchurch. The 2011 earthquake destroyed the church.
The Cathedral Church of St. James is home to the oldest congregation in Toronto. Its parish dates to 1797 in what was then the city of York. Construction on the cathedral began in 1850; it was open for services starting in June 1853. It was one of the most massive buildings in the city at the time it opened.
The crown jewel of Florence is the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore. The glorious cathedral dwarfs most other buildings in this city of about 356,000. Construction started in 1296 and was completed in 1436. Filippo Brunelleschi designed the famed dome. The building’s façade, generally described as a “neo-gothic façade of white, red and green marble,” is relatively new. It was completed in 1887 when the church was 591 years old.
Chiesa di San Salvatore di Ognissanti or the Church of All Saints dates to the 1250s, but architect Bartolomeo Pettirossi rebuilt the church in Baroque-style around 1627. The Vespucci family attended the church, and Amerigo Vespucci is buried here. The church features 15th frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli, who is also buried in the church. Ghirlandaio created a fresco of the Last Supper in the refectory. The work may have influenced Leonardo da Vinci’s later work in Milan.
First Church is a prominent church in Dunedin and the city’s primary Presbyterian church. The current church, considered to be decorated Gothic style, stands on the stump of Bell Hill, a significant promontory that initially divided the heart of Dunedin in half. Dr. Thomas Burns, the brother of Scottish poet Robert Burns, laid the foundation stone in 1868, but the church was not completed until 1873.
Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino founded Mission San Xavier del Bac in 1692. Kino, a Jesuit of Italian descent, often visited the area and preached to native residents. He began building a permanent mission around 1700, but the current building was constructed between 1783 and 1797 and is the oldest European structure in Arizona. The building features a white stucco and Moorish-inspired exterior with an ornately decorated entrance. Franciscans still actively run the church, unlike other Spanish missions in Arizona. The church, nicknamed “The White Dove of the Desert,” is on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation.
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is located in the eastern Atlanta suburb of Conyers and is often referred to as “Georgia’s Most Remarkable Concrete Building.” The community was started on March 21, 1944, by 21 trappist monks who relocated to land donated by media mogul Henry Luce and the Archdiocese of Atlanta from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. The Monastery itself was built between 1944 and 1949, the Monastery. A 17,000-square-foot Heritage Center, which opened in 2011, includes information about the history of the Monastery, a bonsai nursery and a café. Visitors looking to take home a piece of the experience need to stop by the gift shop or the bonsai nursery.
Workers began construction on Notre-Dame de Paris, which means “Our Lady of Paris,” in 1163. The famous Catholic cathedral, completed in 1345, is considered to be one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture in the world, not to mention its status as one of the world’s most famous churches. The cathedral served as the backdrop of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” A fire on April 15, 2019, heavily damaged the cathedral, but officials have vowed to rebuild the structure.
Old North Church is famous as the location where the message of “one if by land, two if by sea” was sent. In April 1775, Paul Revere told a trio of Boston patriots to hang two lanterns in the steeple to indicate British troops were approaching by sea. The church, built in December 1723, was inspired by the works of Christopher Wren, a British architect responsible for rebuilding London after the Great Fire.
Old St Paul’s was built in 1865-66 and constructed from New Zealand native timbers. Rev. Frederick Thatcher designed the Gothic Revival structure, which served as the Diocese of Wellington of the Anglican Church between 1866 and 1964. The building was nearly demolished in the 1960s. However, a civic organization formed to save the structure from demolition.
Salisbury Cathedral was consecrated in 1220 to replace the cathedral in Old Sarum. Today, Salisbury Cathedral, an extraordinary building that remains a leading example of Early English architecture, is the centerpiece of the city. Its central portion of the cathedral took 38 years to complete, from 1220 until 1258. While the structure itself is spectacular, the church is home to one of four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta. A master stonemason present at Runnymede and tasked with distributing copies of the document, Elias of Dereham, brought Salisbury’s version to the cathedral.
The 17th-century Baroque Sant’Agnese in Agone faces Piazza Navona, the location where the Saint Agnes, an early Christian saint, was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Pope Innocent X instigated construction of the church, which began in 1652. Architects Girolamo Rainaldi and his son, Carlo Rainaldi, oversaw construction as did architect Francesco Borromini.
Santa Maria Novella dates to the mid 13th century. A pair of Dominican friars, Fra Sisto da Firenze and Fra Ristoro da Campi, designed the church. It is known as Novella, which means “new” because it was built on the site of the 9th-century oratory of Santa Maria delle Vigne. Leon Battista Alberti completed the church’s façade in 1470. Admittedly, it would be nearly impossible to list every church in Florence that is worth seeing, not to mention how dif-ficult it would be to actually visit each church. Certainly the four aforemen-tioned churches offer a nice overview and can easily be seen in a day or two, or spread out over a longer period of time, depending on how long one plans on spending in Florence.
Southwark Cathedral, formally The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, is an Anglican Cathedral located on the south bank of the River Thames. The cathedral is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark, which was created in 1905. The current structure uses the form of a Gothic edifice built between 1220 and 1420. However, the cathedral reconstructed the nave in the late 19th-century.
St Paul’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of London, is the seat of the Bishop of London. The original church was consecrated in 1300; the current church was consecrated in 1697. The 365-foot-tall edifice was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967, and its dome is among the highest in the world. It is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom. Over the years, St Paul’s Cathedral has hosted several high-profile events, including the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria.
St. Peter’s was designed by an architect from Dunedin using Gothic details, but built along the lines of an English parish church. Anglican roots in Queenstown, however, date to at least 1861. An earlier church was built in 1863 and modified over the years. The oft-photographed stone church, which almost seems out of place in adreneline-driven modern Queenstown, seats 130 people.
The congregation of St. Andrew’s Church was founded in 1830 as the first Church of Scotland congregation. When it was founded, the congregation was loacted in what was then the Town of York. A portion of the congregation broke away following the 1843 split of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. The current building, a fantastic Romanesque Revival design, opened in 1876.
The Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral is perhaps the most recognized church in the United States. Construction of the cathedral began in 1858 but was halted during the Civil War. It resumed in 1865, and the cathedral was completed in 1878. It was dedicated on May 25, 1879. The church’s spires were added in 1888.
St Paul’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin. While the first parish church of St Paul was built on the site from 1862 to 1863, work on the modern incarnation of the church began in 1913. Bishop Samuel Tarratt Nevill consecrated the cathedral on Feb. 12, 1919. Construction on a new chancel, which features a more modernist design, started in December 1969 and finished in July 1971.
St. Paul’s Chapel was completed in 1766 as a “chapel of ease” for those who could not make it to the Parish of Trinity Church. Ten years later, the church survived the Great Fire of New York. In 1789, George Washington attended services here on Inauguration Day and continued to attend the church for two more years as the city served as the nation’s capital. Years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, the church was only yards away from the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
While many of the historical sites around Tombstone are not original to the days when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday wandered the dusty streets of Tombstone, nearly every aspect of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church dates to 1882, when the church opened. Rev. Talbot and the Arizona-New Mexico Episcopal Diocese began construction of the church, and Endicott Peabody completed it in June 1882. The church, located at Safford and Third streets, cost $5,000. While many businesses in town closed over the years, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church did not, surviving the town’s leaner times. It continues to hold weekly services.
The historic Trinity Church is a parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York and located near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in Manhattan. The first Trinity Church was built on Wall Street in 1698 and faced the Hudson River. The building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1776 during the Revolutionary War. In 1790, the second Trinity Church was completed and faced Wall Street. It featured a 200-foot-tall steeple. The third and current Trinity Church was built between 1839 and 1846.
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, better known as Westminster Abbey, was built in the 10th century. British monarchs have held their coronations at Westminster Abbey since 1066. Among the artifacts on display is King Edward’s Chair (or St Edward’s Chair), the throne on which English and British sovereigns have been seated when crowned and has been used at every coronation since 1308. The Abbey has been the site of at least 16 royal weddings since King Henry I married Matilda of Scotland on Nov. 11, 1100.