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Grand Churches Around the Globe – Top 10 Churches in the World

Throughout human history, sacred spaces have existed to honor the divine and provide places for spiritual reflection and community gatherings.

Among the world’s greatest architectural achievements are churches that have stood the test of time, majestic monuments to human creativity, faith, and perseverance. 

These holy locations provide a space where the borders between the heavenly and earthly worlds blend.

In this article, we unveil the top 10 great churches worldwide.

1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Image: Lisa Forkner on Unsplash

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is one of the most sacred religious landmarks in Christianity.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was constructed on the traditional place of Jesus’ burial and crucifixion and is a significant pilgrimage destination for Christians worldwide.

The church was designed to enclose the location of the cross and the tomb because the Bible states that Jesus’ tomb is near the Crucifixion location.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a remarkable example of architectural fusion, combining various styles from different periods, including Crusader, Byzantine, and Renaissance elements.

  • Location: Q6HH+9R Jerusalem, Israel. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Daily, 5 am to 8 pm, April to September and 5 am to 7 pm, October to March
  • Best Time: Winters October to March

2. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Image: Ibrahim Uzun on Unsplash

Hagia Sophia is one of the most significant Byzantine buildings in Istanbul and is known to be the oldest and fastest-completed cathedral in the world.

Justinian I, the Byzantine emperor, oversaw the church’s construction as a Christian congregation in the sixth century CE (532–537). 

It changed to a mosque and a museum, then returned to being a mosque throughout the centuries. 

The building shows how the religion in the area has changed over time. It has Christian decorations like mosaics and Islamic features like minarets and inscriptions.

Inside, Hagia Sophia has beautiful mosaics made of different materials like colored stone, terracotta, glass, gold, and silver.

  • Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Open 24 Hours, Monday to Sunday
  • Best Time: Early Mornings, 9 am and Late Afternoon

3. Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela
Image: Artush/Getty Images

The Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a remarkable example of engineering and craftsmanship. 

There are 11 churches in Lalibela, all carved from rock. They are split into two groups: 5 in the northern group and 5 in the eastern group.

One of the 11 churches, Biet Gyorgis, is the most visited and located separately from the main clusters of churches.

The churches are still utilized for special events and everyday worship. During holidays like Christmas and Easter, pilgrims and great crowds visit the churches. 

  • Location: 22MV+79C, Unnamed Road, Lalibela, Ethiopia. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Open 24 Hours, Monday to Sunday.
  • Best Time: Winters October to March

4. Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
Image: Alexandra Tran on Unsplash

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was originally built as a mosque in the 8th century and later converted into a cathedral in the 13th century.

The cathedral interior features a vast forest of over 850 columns, with red-and-white arched ceilings taken from Moorish architecture.

At the center of its basilica lies the Renaissance-style Catedral Renacentista, a Christian cathedral built right inside the mosque’s walls.

This makes the Mosque-Cathedral a mix of buildings from two different religions.

It is believed to be one of the most famous churches in the world due to its major shift from mosque to church and a unique blend of architectural styles.

  • Location: C. Cardenal Herrero, 1, Centro, 14003 Córdoba, Spain. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8.30 am to 9.30 pm. 
  • Best Time: Monday to Saturday Evenings after 4 pm

5. St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica
Image: Fabio Fistarol on Unsplash

St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world, located in the heart of the Vatican City, drawing millions of Catholics from around the world on pilgrimage.

It holds rank among the four major basilicas in the world as it is believed to be built upon the tomb of Saint Peter, the first pope.

The basilica’s dome, designed by Michelangelo, offers breathtaking views of Vatican City and Rome.

The church’s interior is a treasure trove of artistic wonders, including Michelangelo’s Pietà, Bernini’s stunning Baldachin altar, and the works of Raphael and other Renaissance masters.

  • Location: Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Monday to Sunday, 7 am to 7 pm
  • Best Time: Early Morning from 7 am to 9 am

6. Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida

Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida
Image: Viator.com

The Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida is a major Roman Catholic basilica in Aparecida, Brazil. 

The cathedral is devoted to Our Lady Aparecida, Brazil’s main Patroness, and attracts approximately 12 million visitors annually.

It is the world’s largest cathedral and second-largest Catholic church, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

The architecture features a striking blend of Baroque, Romanesque, and modern architectural styles, with its towering bell towers, grand domes, and exterior carvings.

The basilica’s interior is gigantic, with a vast nave that can accommodate more than 30,000 worshippers and a stunning altar adorned with precious stones.

  • Location: Av. Dr. Júlio Prestes, s/n – Centro, Aparecida – SP, 12570-900, Brazil. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Monday to Thursday, 5.15 am to 9 pm | Friday, 5.15 to 12 am | Saturday Opens 24 hours | Sunday, 12 am to 8 pm
  • Best Time: Early Morning Everyday

7. Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral
Image: David Smith on Unsplash

Winchester Cathedral is one of the most historic structures in Southern England, in the city center of Hampshire.

It is home to precious artifacts and centuries of English heritage.

The cathedral is dedicated to several saints, chief among them Swithun of Winchester, and was constructed between 1079 and 1532. 

Winchester Cathedral has a special place in people’s hearts because of its peaceful and beautiful architecture. 

It features an Early English retrochoir, Norman transepts, and a tower. The nave is exceptionally long and wide, designed in the Perpendicular Gothic style.

It has a rich musical tradition with a renowned choir and hosts concerts and recitals.

  • Location: 9 The Cl, Winchester SO23 9LS, United Kingdom. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday 12 pm to 3 pm
  • Best Time: Every Sunday

8. La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia
Image: Mohammad Edris Afzali on Unsplash

The Sagrada Familia is a prime example of the Catalan Modernist style and has been under construction since 1882. 

The church is known to be the longest under-construction building.

Its intricate facades, towering spires, and innovative use of light and colors make it a true architectural wonder and is expected to be completed by 2026.

This basilica is a masterpiece of organic architecture, with an exterior that resembles a large forest and an interior of tall corridors resembling tree branches.

The unique tree-like architecture and magnificent stained glass windows are the major tourist attractions and are quite popular among photographers.

La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited attractions in Spain.

  • Location: C/ de Mallorca, 401, L’Eixample, 08013 Barcelona, Spain. Get Directions
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm, Sunday, 10.30 am to 6 pm
  • Best Time: Morning, 9 am

9. The Cathedral of Monreale

The Cathedral of Monreale
Image: Getyourguide.com

The Cathedral of Monreale is the most important masterpiece of Sicily’s Norman period. 

It is well-known all over the world for its stunning mosaics and charming architecture.

The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and exhibits a remarkable blend of Eastern and Western elements, which Arabic and Byzantine artisans created.

The church features a stunning front with two towers made of marble and a tufa Neoclassical portico and displays two magnificent Romanesque bronze doors.

The Cathedral of Monreale is renowned for its interior, adorned with 42 reliefs depicting biblical themes, surrounded by intricate artistic ornaments.

The Cathedral of Monreale has one of the most beautiful church interiors in the world and is a highly popular tourist destination.

  • Location: Piazza Guglielmo II, 1, 90046 Monreale PA, Italy. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 am to 12.45 pm and 2.30 pm to 4.15 pm, Sunday 2.30 pm to 4.15 pm
  • Best Time: Early Mornings or Late Afternoons

10. The Cave churches of Cappadocia

The Cave churches of Cappadocia
Image: Viator.com

The Cave Churches of Cappadocia are ancient churches hidden underground in central Turkey.

They were built by early Christian communities around the 4th century. These churches are carved out of soft volcanic rock.

With its bizarre rock formations and chimneys, Cappadocia’s distinctive topography is habitat to an underground tapestry of cave churches that whisper tales of bygone times.

Each church tells a silent story of faith, endurance, and artistic expression that defies the constraints of time.

Travelers are not merely spectators; they become participants in an immersive experience that connects them to the profound history etched within the rock.

  • Location: Göreme/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Türkiye. Get Directions.
  • Hours: Everyday 8 am to 8 pm 
  • Best Time: Winters October to March

FAQs

Which is the most beautiful church in the world?

The Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain, is often regarded as one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Here’s a complete list of most beautiful churches in the world.

Designed by Antoni Gaudí, its uniqueness and intricate design have earned it global acclaim.

What is Christianity’s most famous church?

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is widely regarded as Christianity’s most famous church.
The site is believed to encompass the crucifixion and burial places of Jesus Christ.

Which is the No 1 largest church in the world?

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City holds the title of the largest church in the world.

Its grandeur and architecture attract more than 10 million tourists and pilgrims annually.

Designed by renowned architects, including Michelangelo, it boasts an interior area of
15,160 square meters (163,181 square feet).

What was the first church after Jesus?

The first church after Jesus is often considered to be the Jerusalem church. 

It emerged shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and was crucial to the early Christian community.

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