Europe holds many impressive cathedrals, synagogues and mosques. These houses of worship hold important cultural, historic and religious significance. Many of these great buildings took centuries to build with ornate design and unique architecture.
Roman Catholics flock to Rome to see the seat of the Church. Catholic pilgrims and tourists come from across the globe to see the tombs of St. Peter and Saint John Paul the Great. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica to see Michelangelo’s Pieta. For another Michelangelo masterpiece, visit the Sistine Chapel to see The Last Judgment above the altar. Don’t miss a papal blessing in St. Peter’s Square, weather permitting. Another Catholic heritage site is still under construction. La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain, is a modern marvel, thanks to the vision of the famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. Although parts of the outside of the church remain unfinished, visit the surreal nave inside with pillars inspired by tree trunks and view the completed façade scenes.
Westminster is the heart of the British Empire housing both Parliament and a famous church, Westminster Abbey. This monumental building is the home to various Royal ceremonies. See where William and Kate were married, where Elizabeth was crowned and where many famous Brits are buried. From the 10th-century monks to the Choir of Westminster Abbey, music is an important part of the church’s history. Check the schedule to catch an Evensong service when you visit.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, was once a great cathedral. Today, it is one of the most famous mosques. To enter, tourists are asked to slip off their shoes and women are asked to borrow a headscarf. Marvel at the Byzantine and Ottoman design blending together to create one of the most unique religious monuments in the world.
Santa Maria La Blanca is the oldest synagogue in Europe. Moorish architects in Toledo, Spain, built the synagogue for Jews. The Christians took over the synagogue and renamed it Santa Maria La Blanca. Today, the building is a museum of architecture and Jewish culture in the city of the three cultures. In Budapest, Hungary, the Great Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe.
Orthodox churches populate the country of Latvia including the St. Nicholas Maritime Cathedral, the Riga St. Trinity-Sergiev Nunnery, and the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral, to name a few. More awe-inspiring churches include Bulgaria’s Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, which was founded in 1083. Walk among the monastery’s courtyard and feast your eyes on a Paradise apple tree and a Chinese fir for a spiritual experience unlike any other.