One of the top attractions in any city that you visit is most often an old cathedral. If you’re visiting Europe, or you have already visit a city from the old continent, you can easily tell that a lot of effort was put into the cathedral. Not only they were and some of them still are important religious places, but the way they were built is also fascinating.
Most of the cathedrals you will see on this list are built in Gothic style, meaning that they are all very, very old! The fact that they stood the test of time, with surviving so many wars, bad weather, rulers with different visions, and yet here they are, looking amazing and standing proud tells us as tourists that this is something worth visiting. So, check these ten photos of cathedrals across Europe and put them on your bucket list for your next trip.
1. St. Basil’s Cathedral
Built during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral was completed in 1561 in Moscow and it is definitely a type of building that you won’t find somewhere else in Russia or abroad. It is shaped as a bonfire rising into the sky and it was actually built in honor of the few victories that Ivan the Terrible had in his military conquests. However, it’s not just the way this cathedral is built – the colors make it even more unique, but the cathedral was painted almost two centuries after it was built. Before that, it is said that the cathedral was painted in white and gold. The cathedral has nine, separate small chapels of which four designate their position between heaven and Earth. The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat, as it is officially known, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Notre Dame
The Notre Dame cathedral is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris, with having more than 10 million visitors every year. Even thought it serves as such attraction, this cathedral still holds on to religious ceremonies and events. It was built between 1163 and 1345, and the long period of building was an opportunity for more architects to add their style and ideas in the building. The cathedral is mostly built from stones, with many statues on the outside walls, such as gargoyles and chimeras, making the Notre Dame way more gothic and unique. What makes this cathedral really special is that inside there is one of the most revered of religious artifacts – the Crown of Thorns.
3. Duomo di Milano
Located in Milan’s Piazza di Duomo, this cathedral is the fifth largest Christian church in the world! The construction began in 1386 by the quest of Bishop Antonio di Saluzzo and immediately had the support from the ruler Gian Galeazzo Visconti. There were thousands of workers and more than 70 architects, artists and sculptors working on the cathedral and used marble from the quarries of Candoglia. For this purpose, they dug canals leading to the construction site and these still remain – we’re talking about the navigli in the southern part of the city. The cathedral was finished two centuries later, and it has the largest number of statues seen on the outside walls from any other cathedral in the world.
4. Cologne Cathedral
The Cologne cathedral used to be the tallest building in the world between 1880 and 1884, until the completion of the Rouen cathedral and the Eiffel Tower. Even though it’s not the tallest building in the world anymore, the cathedral still is the longest Gothic building. The construction began in 1248 and was finished more than six centuries later – in 1880! The cathedral is one of the most popular attractions in Germany and also remains an important religious place, because inside the cathedral is the Sarcophagus of Magi, which is believed to have the remains of the Three Wise Men.
5. Salisbury Cathedral
The cathedral in Salisbury is also officially known as Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which constructions began in 1220 and was completely finished in 1258. What makes this cathedral really special is the fact that it has the remaining copies of the Magna Carta! It also has the oldest working clock, that was constructed in 1386 and was forgotten over the time, until a visitor discovered it in 1926. The cathedral has the tallest church spire, which is even heavier than the base supporting structure. If you’re visiting this cathedral, make sure to enter it and witness how the daylight can change the interior color from dreary gray to golden shine.
6. Santa Maria Del Fiore
The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and is considered to be the third largest Christian church based on nave size. The construction started in 1296 and was finished in 1436. It was built on the remaining of the church of Santa Reparata dating from 7th century and these remains can still be seen in the crypt. The most important object of the cathedral’s exterior is the enormous dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior is made of marble panels and one of the most remarkable features of the cathedral can be seen outside and is known as Porta della Mandorla.
7. Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The construction of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral began in 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile and lasted until 1122 when the last stone was laid. A decade later it was consecrated and through the centuries small changes were made to the cathedral. Located on the Plaza del Obradoiro in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, this cathedral is very important because it is the reputed place burial place of one of the apostols of jesus – Saint James the Great. The cathedral is the last place from the pilgrimage route, with so many pilgrims ending their journey by touching the relics of St. James.
8. Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral, or as it’s officially known, the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrews and is dedicated to Saint Andrew the Apostle. The construction started in 1175 and was dedicated in 1239. Most of the cathedral’s structure represents Early English architecture, although it is the first English building to ever be built in Gothic style as well. The east end of the cathedral still has stained, original glass, which is quite rare! There are more than 300 sculpted figures and with the surrounding of the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace, this cathedral is really one of the most beautiful, not only in the Somerset countryside, but whole Wells as well.
9. Saint Mark’s Basilica
The real reason why this cathedral was built, was exactly to keep the body of St. Mark the Evangelist, but his remaining were stolen in 828. What makes the Saint Mark’s Basillica so special is that it’s rich in mosaics, that it can cover 1.5 American football fields, or more than 8,000 square meters to be exact. The cathedral, which is located in Venice, is rich with so many treasures that the city got from the Crusades – mosaics, sculptures, religious objects. There are more than 500 columns and capitals as well! The church is officially known as Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and is one of the most popular attractions not only in Venice, but in whole Italy as well.
10. York Minster
The York Minster cathedral was voted as one of the UK’s Seven Wonders in 2002, with more than two million visitors each yearly. The lantern tower of the cathedral weights 16,000 metric tons which is the exact weight of 40 jumbo jets – how impressive is that for a building? Located in York, the cathedral which is officially known as Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter, is one of the largest medieval Gothic cathedrals. It took 250 years for this cathedral to be built and if you visit it, you will be able to see the beauty of the largest expanse of medieval glass in the world!