Travellers are drawn to Europe’s rich legacy of religious buildings: ornate cathedrals and basilicas play a vital role in the local landscapes of most European cities.
Cologne Cathedral, Germany
The handsome Gothic masterpiece that is the Cologne Cathedral dominates the German city’s skyline and is pictured above. Work originally started in 1248, although it would take a further 632 years to finally complete the structure! Today Cologne Cathedral holds the title for the second tallest church spire in the world at 515 feet (157 meters) – bettered only by Ulm Minster in the German city of Ulm. This cathedral is also UNESCO listed and is the final resting place of Marie de’ Medici, the former Queen of France.
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The Roman Catholic Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain’s Galicia province is predominately Romanesque in style. This particular cathedral is of significant important to the Christian faith as it’s reputed to be the final resting place of St James the Greater, who was one of the apostles. Construction was started in 1075 and took 136 years to complete, with later gothic and baroque style additions. The Old Town region is listed with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Estonia
The unmistakable Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is located in the Old Town district of Tallinn in Estonia. Typifying the Russian Revival architecture, this cathedral first opened in 1900 and honours Saint Alexander Nevsky who was a military hero. It’s hard to believe that this exquisite structure was actually due to be demolished by the USSR but in a reversal of fortunes, it has been extensively renovated since independence in 1991.
Milan Cathedral, Italy
The Duomo di Milano, aka Milan Cathedral, is absolutely awe-inspiring – its Gothic splendour dominates the city of Milan and wows visitors to the Piazza del Duomo. In fact it’s the fifth biggest cathedral on earth and took an incredible 600 years to build and was finally completed in 1965. Capable of holding a 40,000 strong congregation the multitude of spires peaks at 350 feet (107 meters) tall.
Old Cathedral of Linz, Austria
Not to be confused with the New Cathedral, Linz’s Jesuitenkirche is also known as the Alter Dom aka Old Cathedral. It was built by the Jesuits in 1683 and lies with the Hauptplatz, close to the former Jesuits’ College. The highlight is undoubtedly the highly ornate organ which remains in its original untouched state. Watch the YouTube video below for an insight into this beautiful cathedral.
Saint James Cathedral, Croatia
Another UNESCO listed cathedral, this time in Croatia’s Dalmatia town of Sibenik. This triple nave masterpiece is topped off by a magnificent dome. Is also known locally as the Cathedral of Saint Jacob and lies at the end of the sea promenade.
Cathedral of Saint Elizabeth, Slovakia
Located in Slovakia’s capital city of Kosice, is the gothic wonder that is the Dóm svätej Alžbety aka St Elizabeth Cathedral and is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe. Dating back to 1378, this is one of the most easterly of all gothic cathedrals. The City of Peace also hosts the prestigious European Capital of Culture honour along with Marseille in France this year.