The world’s greatest religious buildings Pt.1

Whether it’s the first cathedral in the world, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or a Gaudí-designed masterpiece in Barcelona, religious buildings are a great place to visit for the architecture, art and spirituality


The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

Yerevan, Armenia


The mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, this cathedral is considered the be the oldest in the world. Built in 480, the current sanctuary was erected in the 1600s, with remnants of the 4th-century altar unearthed beneath the present structure.


The cathedral is located in a walled compound surrounded by an open alter and now has a museum.


The name Etchmiadzin– translates to ‘where the Only Begotten descended’.


Location: Vagarshapat, Vagharshapat, Armenia.

Entry cost: Free


Sagrada Família

Barcelona, Spain



The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia is a Gothic cathedral that started being built in 1298.


Yet to be finished, it was constructed on the foundations of the primitive paleo-Christian basilica and the subsequent Romanesque Cathedral.


Acting as the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, the cathedral is comprised of three naves, but just a single apse and ambulatory. The naves have five sections: that closest to the façade is the longest in order to accommodate the dimensions of the cimborio, which is adjacent to the main entrance.


The cathedral’s chapels hold Gothic altarpieces painted by Guerau Gener, Lluís Borrassà, Gabriel Alemany and Bernat Martorell et al.


The cathedral is expected to be completed by 20206.

Location: Pla de la Seu s/n 08002 Barcelona.

Entry cost: €7.00


The Sistine Chapel

Rome, Italy


Situated in the Apostolic Palace, which is also the official residence of the pope, the world-renowned chapel is famous for interiors decorated in the fresco technique and The Last Judgment by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.


The Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, who requested the old Cappella Magna be restored between 1477 and 1480.


Finished in October 1512, the Sistine Chapel was inaugurated on the Feast of All Saints (1 November), with a solemn mass.

Location: Viale Vaticano, 00165 Rome.

Entry cost:  Click here for different prices.


Hagia Sophia

Istanbul, Turkey


A former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral and then later an Ottoman imperial mosque, this world-famous structure is now a museum and means the ‘Holy Wisdom’.


One of the most important Byzantine structures ever built, there are calligraphy panels that read “Allah, Hz Muhammed, Hz Ebubekir, Hz Ömer, Hz Osman, Hz Ali, Hz Hasan ve Hz Hüseyin”, which are known to be the biggest calligraphy panels in the Islamic world.



Location: Cankurtaran District, Ayasofya Square.

Entry cost: 72 TL.


Kamppi Chapel

Helsinki, Finland


Located in a corner of the Narinkkatori square in the capital, the building opened to the public in 2012 and is 11.5 metres tall.


Made of three different types of wood, the chapel is intended for personal peace and quiet.

Location: Simonkatu 7, Narinkkatori, Helsinki.

Entry cost: Free


St Basil’s Cathedral

Moscow, Russia


Located in the Red Square, the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed is an Orthodox church that was constructed between 1555 and 1561 on the order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, to celebrate the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan.


Not to be confused with the Moscow Kremlin, you can visit nine chapels and its belfry.


Location: Red Square, Moscow.

Entry cost: 500 rubles.


Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury, UK

A World Heritage site, the cathedral is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England and is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, currently Justin Welby.


Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Four knights sliced off the top of his skull, spilling his brains and blood on the floor in the area now known as the Martyrdom.

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For a more enjoyable time, though, visit the beautiful garden or marvel at the spectacular stained-glass windows.

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Location: Cathedral House, 11 The Precincts, Canterbury

Entry cost: £12.50


Catedral Metropolitana de São Sebastião

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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A Catholic cathedral located in the city centre, the four stained glass windows denotes One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.



The pyramid has a conical shape to signify the proximity of people in relation to God.


Location: Av Chile, 245 – Center

Entry cost: Free


St Sophia Cathedral

Kiev, Ukraine


Located in the historic centre of Kyiv, the cathedral is one of the major monuments representing the architectural and the monumental art of the early 11th century.



An outstanding example of Byzantine art, it was designed to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, Kyiv’s Saint-Sophia Cathedral symbolises the ‘new Constantinople’.




Italian Chapel

Orkney, Scotland

This amazing Catholic Chapel is situated on the island of Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands.


It was built during World War II by 550 Italian prisoners of war, who had been captured in North Africa.


They were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow.


It was not completed until after the end of the war and was reconstructed in the 1960s and 1990s.

Location: Lamb Holm, Orkney

Entry cost: £3


Checking out C & J.


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