38 Beautiful and Famous Churches in Europe to Add to your Bucket List 

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

When it comes to Christianity, Europe has a long, rich, and sometimes complex heritage and history. Christianity has been around in Europe since the first century, and is still the most practiced religion on the continent. So, it should come as no surprise that some of the most beautiful and oldest cathedrals in the world are on the European continent. You’ll find some beautiful European churches that date back nearly a thousand years, and many of the most ornate and famous churches in Europe took hundreds of years to build. 

This guide to the most famous churches in Europe includes a brief history about each one of the famous European cathedrals, information for visiting, and a glimpse at how and why they are so famous.

Table of Contents

Famous Churches in Europe and where to find them

In some European countries, like Italy and France, it seems there is a beautiful, ornate cathedral on every corner. In other areas where Christianity is not as deeply rooted, you won’t find as many famous European churches. But as Christianity spread across the continent throughout the centuries, beautiful cathedrals now grace most cities in Europe. Whether you are a Christian or simply a traveler who appreciates the opulence of European cathedrals, here are 30 famous churches in Europe that should be on everyone’s bucket list. 

Famous cathedrals in Italy

Our list of the most famous churches in Europe begins in Italy. Naturally, as the birthplace of Catholicism, many of the most beautiful European churches and some of the most elaborate cathedrals in the world are in the country of Italy.

St Peter’s Basilica – Vatican City, Vatican

Undoubtedly one of the most significant churches in Europe is the home to the pope, St. Peter’s Basilica. The site is both an important pilgrimage site for Catholics and an incredible architectural landmark.

Technically, the church is in the city-state of Vatican City, surrounded on all sides by Rome, one of the most cultured cities in Europe. The basilica is located on St. Peter’s Square, west of the Tiber River.

The basilica was built between 1506 and 1626 on the site of St. Peter’s burial site, and several famous artists contributed to its design: Donato Bramane, Michelangelo, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, to name a few. The church is considered one of the preeminent works of Renaissance architecture, noteworthy in particular for its massive dome.

St. Peter's Basilica is the largest and most famous church in Europe, if not the entire world.
St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest and most famous church in Europe, if not the entire world as the headquarters to the Roman Catholic Church. | Photo by Carlo Armanni from Pixabay

The interior of the basilica is as remarkable as its structure. Masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s Pietà and St. Peter’s Baldachin by Bernini, fill every niche.

Entering the basilica is free, but if you would like to tour the adjoining Vatican Museums (including the Sistine Chapel), tickets start at 8 euros. There is usually a long line to go through security before entering St. Peter’s, so it’s best to arrive early in the morning to avoid long wait times. The basilica opens at 7:00 am and gets busier as the day goes on.

Mary from Wanderu

Why is St. Peter’s Basilica famous?

Home to the pope, who is the head of the Catholic faith, St. Peter’s Basilica is widely considered the holiest place of worship in Catholicism. It is also the largest church in the world.

Admission: 

Florence Duomo – Florence, Rome

Formally known as the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo in the Tuscan city of Florence is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe and one of the most recognizable. A prominent part of the Florence skyline, the cathedral is perhaps most notable for its dome, which was the largest in the world at the time of construction.

A visit to the Florence Duomo isn’t complete without taking the challenging climb up the 463 steps to the top of the dome for panoramic views of the city. Although entrance to the cathedral is free, to climb the dome requires a ticket and booking a time slot, sometimes days in advance. 

The Florence Duomo looking up at the dome which makes it one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe
The Florence Duomo is one of the most magnificent and famous churches in Europe.

At the time of construction, the dome of the Florence cathedral was an architectural marvel. But it isn’t just impressive from the outside. The inside of the dome is intricately painted, and features one of the most famous fresco works of all time – The Last Judgment.  And if you are a lover of art, the Duomo of Florence is located right around the corner from the Accademia Gallery, where you will find one of the most famous statues in Europe, Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. Currently, The Florence Duomo remains the fourth largest church in the world, and one of the most magnificent buildings in all of Italy. 

Why is the Florence Duomo famous?

Most famous for its magnificent dome, the Florence Duomo is one of the most visited cathedrals in Italy.

Admission:

Milan Duomo – Milan, Italy

The Milan Duomo is one of the most magnificent architectural masterpieces of all time. This famous European church in Milan, Italy took six centuries to build. Construction started on the gothic cathedral in 1386, and it wasn’t considered complete until 1965! 

With intricate spires, pinnacles, gargoyles, and thousands of statues, it is easy to see why it is one of the most famous churches in Europe. In addition to taking thousands of workers and nearly 600 years to complete, the Duomo di Milano, is the largest cathedral in Italy and the fifth largest Christian church in the world.

The largest cathedral in Italy, Duomo di Milano is one of Europe's most famous churches.
The largest cathedral in Italy, Duomo di Milano is one of Europe’s most famous churches. Photo by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

One of the most impressive features of the cathedral is its rooftop terrace. From the terrace, you can get an up-close view of the Duomo’s detailed construction, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Italian Alps through the forest of spires. Even if you only have one day in Milan, it is worth visiting to see this grandiose cathedral.

Why is the Milan Duomo famous? 

Aside from its breathtaking exterior, the Milan Duomo is the largest church in Italy. Although St. Peter’s Basilica is larger, it is technically located in Vatican City, not Italy.

Admission:

St Mark’s Basilica – Venice, Italy

St Mark’s Basilica, located in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe and together with Doge’s Palace one of the most famous attractions in the city. The church was built in the 11th century over the remains of a 9th century basilica, in Italian Byzantine architectural style. Back then, it was intended to be the private chapel of Venice Doge – in other words, the governor of the city.

St. Mark's Basilica in the heart of San Marco Square in Venice, Italy.
St. Mark’s Basilica in the heart of San Marco Square in Venice, Italy. | Photo by Peter Morth from Pixabay

The church, also known as Basilica di San Marco, holds the remains of St. Mark, which were actually stolen in the 9th century only to be found in Egypt and smuggled back to where they belonged. Inside, the church is absolutely splendid – with mosaics, frescoes and paintings. 

Touring the basilica is one of the best things to do in Venice. You can visit St Mark’s Basilica from Monday to Saturday from 9:30 am to 5:15 pm and on Sunday after 2:00 pm. Visiting is free, but there may be lines to walk in and between April and November all visitors are requested to book their visit (it costs €3 to do that).

Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across The World

Why is St. Mark’s Basilica famous?

St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice is the famous resting place of the Apostle Mark. 

Admission: 

St. John In The Lateran – Rome, Italy

The Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (St. John in the Lateran, in English) is probably the most overlooked church in Rome, and it is a real pity, for it is absolutely marvelous.

The church is located in Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, in the Esquilino District of Rome – so a bit outside of the most trodden path, yet easy to reach by metro (there’s a metro stop aptly called San Giovanni). This is actually Rome’s Cathedral, not to mention the seat of the Pope in Rome.

The seat of the Pope, inside Saint John Lateran.
The seat of the Pope, inside Saint John Lateran in Rome. | Photo by Claudia from Stictly Rome

It may not look like it, but it’s one of the oldest churches in the Eternal City. Unfortunately the remains of the original church can’t really be seen – most of it was destroyed in subsequent fires and earthquakes. What you can see today is a large Baroque church with plenty of frescoes, including one of Giotto; as well as columns, mosaics and more. The most beautiful feature, however, is the 1367 Gothic tabernacle. There even is a Baptistery that dates back to the 4th century.

Outside the church you can spot the Lateran Obelisk, which was brought all the way from Egypt. On the left of the church there’s the Scala Sancta, made of the 28 steps that Jesus climbed to his trial in Jerusalem.

The church can be visited every day from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm. There is no admission fee but you’ll have to go through security checks to be let in.

Claudia Tavani from Strictly Rome

Why is Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano famous?

St. John in the Lateran is the oldest church in Rome and the official seat of the Catholic pope, although many mistake St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City as the seat.

Admission: 

  • Free to visit

Pantheon – Rome, Italy

The Pantheon is one of the most famous churches in Europe, located in Rome, Italy. It was originally built in 126 AD by the emperor Hadrian as a temple to all gods. The Pantheon was later converted into a church in the 7th century AD and it’s still an active church today.

The Pantheon is noteworthy for its large unreinforced concrete dome, which was the largest in the world when it was built. When looking at the Pantheon, visitors will also see 8 columns with another set of 8 directly behind it. It’s interesting to note how well-preserved the Pantheon is compared to other historical buildings that were built around the same time in Rome.

The Pantheon in Rome at night with a fountain in front of it.
The Pantheon in Rome is not only one of the most famous landmarks in Rome, it is also one of the most famous European churches. | Photo by Erzsébet Apostol from Pixabay

The Pantheon is free to enter. When planning an itinerary to visit the Pantheon, the best time to go is early in the morning before the crowds start to arrive. This will give you plenty of time to explore the church with thinner crowds.

Visitors are allowed to take photos of the church, but please be respectful of the people in the church. Also, be sure to dress appropriately as this is a religious site.

Pafoua at Her Wanderful World

Why is the Pantheon famous?

The Pantheon is the most well-preserved ancient Roman monument, although many don’t realize the Pantheon is still an active church. 

Admission: 

Cathedral of Pisa – Pisa, Italy

The Cathedral of Pisa in Tuscany in Italy is one of the most famous churches in Europe. Pisa is a must-visit on a Tuscany road trip. The Cathedral of Pisa and Square of Miracles are must-sees in Tuscany.

The Cathedral of Pisa, the baptistery, the bell tower (known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa), and the cemetery on the Piazza dei Miraccoli (the Square of Miracles) represent a pinnacle of medieval architecture. The Square of Miracles with the four monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

The heart of the square is the Cathedral of Pisa (or Duomo di Pisa in Italian). The cathedral is a medieval masterpiece made in the unique Pisan Romanesque style. 

Cathedral of Pisa and its famous bell tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Cathedral of Pisa and its famous bell tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. | Photo by Rudi Maes from Pixabay

The Republic of Pisa was a powerful and wealthy independent medieval maritime state. The Cathedral of Pisa stood as a symbol of the republic’s power. It was built in the 11th century and enlarged in the 12th century. At that time, the Pisa cathedral was the largest in Europe. 

The Cathedral of Pisa has an arched pastel-colored marble facade, a layered black-white marble interior, granite columns, the Moorish-style inspired cupola, gold-colored wooden coffered ceiling, intricate polygonal pulpit, and other numerous supreme medieval and Renaissance sacral artworks (mosaics, paintings, statues). 

The entrance to Pisa Cathedral is free. But, the visits are limited to 90 visitors every 30 minutes. So, the visitors still need to take free tickets for their time slot for visiting it.

Milijana of World Travel Connector

Why is the Cathedral of Pisa famous?

The Cathedral of Pisa receives its notoriety as one of the most famous churches in Europe thanks to its leaning bell tower, known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 

Admission: 

Famous European churches in France

Perhaps second only to Italy when it comes to the number of famous churches in Europe, France is home to the likes of Notre Dame in Paris and Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy. Here are a few of the most notable churches in France.

Notre Dame – Paris, France

Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the most famous churches in Europe, if not the entire world. The medieval cathedral is located on the Île de la Cité in the Seine River and is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris.

Construction on Notre Dame began in 1163 and took 182 years, completing in 1835. The cathedral is an iconic example of French Gothic architecture, featuring large stained glass rose windows, and its two 226-feet tall towers were once Paris’s tallest structures before the Eiffel Tower was constructed.

The cathedral has been home to various artworks and relics over the years, including Jesus’s Crown of Thorns. It was also the setting of Victor Hugo’s famous novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which brought popularity to the cathedral and inspired a major renovation in the 1800s. The novel was later turned into one of the most popular Disney movies based on a real place.

Notre Dame, the most famous church in France at night
Notre Dame, the most famous church in France is currently undergoing restoration after a fire in 2019. | Photo by Sydney from A World in Reach

During a renovation in 2019, the cathedral unfortunately caught fire, destroying its spire and most of its roof. Thankfully, much of the cathedral was able to be preserved, and reconstruction began in 2021 with the goal of being complete by spring of 2024.

Due to the fire, you cannot currently go inside the cathedral. However, you can admire the incredible structure from the outside. There is a pop-up exhibit outside of the cathedral, detailing its history, the events of the fire, and the plans for reconstruction. Services are planned to resume on April 15, 2024, the 5-year anniversary of the 2019 fire.

Sydney from A World in Reach

Why is Notre Dame famous?

Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and gained further notoriety after the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published in 1833.

Admission: 

  • Currently closed due to a massive fire in 2019. The church is expected to reopen in 2024.

Sainte Chapelle – Paris, France

La Sainte Chapelle is Paris’ other famous church, well, former Royal church. Built in the 13th century by order of King Louis IX of France (later on known as Saint Louis), la Sainte Chapelle was to host the religious relics of Christ’s Crown of Thorns. Standing within the medieval heart of Paris and the seat of the Kings of France during that era, the Gothic style is reflected in the chapel’s exterior, with its tall spire standing high over the Palais of Justice.

However, the most appealing part of la Sainte Chapelle is its fantastic interior, with stunning stained glass windows. One of the largest in the world with over 1,000 windows, scenes from the Old and New Testaments are displayed in red and blue colors.

stained glass windows inside Sainte Chapelle in Paris France
The beautiful stained glass windows inside Sainte Chapelle in Paris, France. | Photo by user32212 from Pixabay

A particular element is the flamboyant rose window in the west upper level. Added in the 15th-century, the rose window is a massive piece made of thousands of glass.  

After the French Revolution, the Sainte Chapelle lost its status as a church to become a national monument. Also as a result of the French Revolution, many relics went lost during that same time, though some moved to Notre Dame of Paris and the Louvre Museum.

The 11.5 € entrance tickets must be purchased in advance, with a specific time slot.

Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs

Why is Sainte Chapelle famous?

Sainte Chapelle is most famous for its brilliant stained glass windows.

Admission:

Strasbourg Cathedral – Strasbourg, France

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is famed throughout Europe for its Gothic architecture, with intricate sandstone carvings adorning the façade. Construction of the church began in 1015, and the original crypt is still intact all these centuries later.

Once the tallest building in the world, today Notre Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg, as it is also called, still stands proud in the center of the historic city on the Grande Ile. The narrow streets make coming across the cathedral a bit of a surprise, and on entering the square you’ll wonder just how such an enormous structure could be so well hidden.

exterior of Stasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral | Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle from Unsplash

It’s easy to see why the cathedral is one of the top sights in Strasbourg. Highlights include some stunning 12th century stained glass windows, and the 16th century astronomical clock which can be found in the south transept. Make sure you’re there at 12.30 pm to see it in action! You can also climb to the top of the cathedral tower – it’s 332 steps – and enjoy incredible views out over the city rooftops. Sometimes you can even see as far as the Black Forest in Germany!

It’s free to enter the cathedral, but if you want to go up the tower or access the crypt, unless you’re visiting on the first Sunday of the month, you’ll have to pay 8 Euros per person. 

Heather from Conversant Traveller 

Why is Strasbourg Cathedral famous?
Strasbourg Cathedral rose to fame in the Middle Ages, when it was the tallest church in the world. While it no longer holds that title, it still ranks the sixth tallest church globally.

Admission:

  • Cathedral entrance is free
  • Tower and crypt: €8 per person 

Abbaye de Senanque – Provence, France

One of the most famous and impressive churches in the South of France, the Senanque Abbey is a place of both worship and work. Located near the Luberon village of Gordes, it’s set in a peaceful valley away from the bustle of everyday life. Founded in the 11th century by monks from the nearby monastery of Mazan, it’s still inhabited by monks to this day.

In between their prayers, the monks silently tend to the gardens, collecting lavender and honey which are turned into delightful products sold in the abbey gift store.

Indeed, come lavender season in Provence, the abbey is a sight to behold as it’s surrounded by fields of flowering purple! Summer is, therefore, one of the busiest times to visit the abbey, so if you’re more interested in the history and religious aspects of this holy place, it’s best to visit in Spring or Autumn instead. 

lavender fields outside Senanque Abbey
Senanque Abbey is one of the most famous churches in Europe largely because of its beautiful lavender fields. | Photo by Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Guided visits are available of the abbey, but unfortunately only in French. However, you can hire a histopad and take a self-guided tour to discover what life was like here in the early days of the abbey. It costs only €8.50 per adult and tours are available year-round, every day of the week.

Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Why is Abbaye de Senanque famous?
Senanque Abbey has grown in popularity and fame, in part, because of its picturesque lavender fields that draw crowds of visitors each summer.

Admission:

Le Mont Saint Michel Abbey – Normandy, France

One of the most fascinating heritage sites in all of Europe, Le Mont Saint Michel is an island filled with history, literature, and beauty. Surrounded by sand and marshlands, the Mont Saint Michel becomes an island surrounded by water only when the tide comes in. At the center of the island situated off the coast of Brittany and Normandy France, the Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel is one of the most visited and picturesque cultural sites in France.

The Abbey which dates back to the 700s and took 1300 years to build and later restore, has received UNESCO World Heritage designation, along with the island village and bay. While the Abbey is a popular tourist destination, it remains an active religious place, maintained by monks and nuns who live on-site. 

The island of Le Mont Saint Michel with a towering abbey and church at its highest point.
High above a small island village of Le Mont Saint Michel, the abbey and church have become both a tourist attraction and a pilgrimage site. | Photo by Ridoe from Pixabay

Interestingly, Le Mont Saint Michel is slowly sinking into the sand, and could cease to be island within a matter of decades if nothing is done to prevent it. 

To get to the island itself, visitors must take a shuttle or bus, as you cannot do a self-drive to the island. Once on the island, to get to the Abbey and church, visitors must walk up a steep road lined with shops and restaurants. The street can be quite crowded but the walk to the historical monument is worth the effort and crowds. 

Why is Le Mont Saint Michel famous?

Visited by more than 3 million people each year, Le Mont Saint Michel is a famous pilgrimage site as well as a tourist attraction.

Admission:

Famous European churches in Spain and Portugal

The Iberian peninsula boasts some of the most unique churches in Europe. While some date back to the 700s others are still under construction to this day. Here are a few of the most famous European churches located in Spain and Portugal.

Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain

When in Barcelona, you simply cannot miss visiting the Sagrada Familia, the city’s most iconic structure. It’s one of the genius architect Gaudí’s true masterpieces.

Antoni Gaudí started work on the cathedral in 1882 and didn’t see much of it finished when he passed away in 1926. The work on the majestic structure has been ongoing ever since and, if funds and luck allow, it’s planned to be finally finished in 2026 to commemorate 100 years since Gaudí’s death.

The church is like no other you’ve ever seen. Everything about it is unique. Its coat is made up of 3 different facades depicting religious motifs. The main nave of the cathedral has large tree-like columns with wide crowns. Stained glass windows let the most beautiful colorful array of light in. It’s a true wonder, and seeing it is one of the best bucket list experiences in Spain.

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia under construction
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is still under construction. | Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

Two out of the finished 8 towers are open to the public – the Nativity tower and the Passion tower. While the views are similar, only the Passion tower has a lift for both the ascent and the descent. 

Sagrada Familia can be found in the Eixample district of Barcelona. The closest metro station is called Sagrada Familia and is on the L2 line.

Veronika from Travel Geekery

Why is La Sagrada Familia famous?

La Sagrada Familia is famous because it is a true iconic example of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural brilliance.  

Admission: 

  • Entrance: €26 for adults
  • Entrance with guided tour: €30 for adults
  • Entrance with guided tour and tower visit: €40 for adults
  • Fast-track access ticket

Seville Cathedral – Seville, Spain

The Seville Cathedral is not only one of the most famous churches in Europe, it is also the largest gothic cathedral in the world. 

The ornate cathedral was initially built as a way to display the city’s wealth and prosperity and to replace the Grand Mosque that stood on the site prior to Christian rule of Spain. 

Also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the UNESCO World Heritage site remains the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It took nearly 130 years to complete and houses the tomb of explorer Christopher Columbus, who is often credited with discovering the Americas and opening the door for European colonization.

Seville Cathedral - one of the most famous churches in Europe - is notable as the largest gothic cathedral in the world.
Seville Cathedral – one of the most famous churches in Europe – is notable as the largest gothic cathedral in the world.

It s most notable feature, the Giralda Bell Tower, was once part of the original Muslim mosque. Visitors can climb the 343-foot tall tower using a series of spiraling ramps and stairs for panoramic views of the city.

Located in the heart of Seville and directly across from the Real Alcazar, the cathedral is an easy addition to any Seville itinerary

Why is the Seville Cathedral famous?

The Seville Cathedral is most notable because it is the largest gothic cathedral in the world. It is also the burial place for Christopher Columbus. 

Admission:

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – Galicia, Spain

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, one of the most famous churches in Europe is situated in Galicia, Northern Spain. The Cathedral is one of the few churches in the world that were built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus. It’s believed that the tomb inside the Cathedral contains the remains of Apostle Saint James the Great (Santiago in Spanish).

According to the legend, after the execution of St.James in 44AD two of his disciples brought the body of the saint from Jerusalem to Spain. The remains of St.James were buried in the area that later became the town of Santiago de Compostela. One of the most popular Christian pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago, finishes at the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the final destination for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the final destination for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. | Photo by Campbell from Stingy Nomads

The construction of the current cathedral started in 1075 under the reign of King Alfonso VI and finished in 1122. During the following centuries, the façades and the interior of the cathedral were expanded and embellished. 

The Cathedral de Santiago is a part of the Santiago de Compostela UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The entrance to the Cathedral is free. Four daily masses take place in the cathedral at 7.30am, 9.30am, 12pm, and 7.30pm. Anybody is allowed to attend them.

Campbell from Stingy Nomads

Why is the Cathedral de Santiago famous?

The church in Spain is most notable because it is where the Apostle James is buried. The Christian pilgrimage Camino de Santiago ends at the cathedral.

Admission:

Jeronimos Monastery and Church of Santa Maria – Lisbon, Portugal

The most opulent attraction in Lisbon, Jeronimos Monastery and Church in the parish of Belem is an ornate building with complex spires and columns and picturesque archways. Not far from one of Europe’s most famous bridges, the UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to the 1400s when a small chapel graced the site.

In the 1500s the construction of the monastery began, and for 400 years monks lived there and spent their days praying for the king and the seamen coming and going from the port in Belem. 

The attached church, known as the Church of Santa Maria, has a single nave held up by 6 large columns.

Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal is one of the most opulent attractions in Lisbon
Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal is one of the most opulent attractions in Lisbon. | Adam Jill Travel from Pixabay

Due to its architectural beauty, the monastery is one of the most visited places in Lisbon.  The church and monastery were among the first sites in Europe to receive a UNESCO World Heritage designation. It is worth adding to your Lisbon itinerary

Why is the Jeronimos Monastery and church famous?

Jeronimos Monastery and the connecting Church of Santa Maria are important examples of Manueline architecture and a symbol of Portugal’s wealth during the Age of Discovery.

Admission:

  • €10 for adults
  • €5 for students and seniors over 65
  • free for children under 12

Cathedral of Córdoba – Cordoba, Spain

The Cathedral of Cordoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Cordoba or Mezquita, is the top attraction in Cordoba, Spain and a must-visit on any Cordoba itinerary. Once an Islamic mosque, the impressive building with its 856 Moorish columns was later converted to a Catholic church in the 13th century. Construction of the mosque dates back to the late 700s. 

Best known for its impressive architecture, particularly in the main prayer hall with alternating red and white striped arches connecting the columns. Although now a cathedral, the prayer hall maintains the original Islamic architecture and has received UNESCO World Heritage status for that religious architecture.

The Cathedral of Cordoba, now one of the most famous churches in Europe, was once a mosque.
The Cathedral of Cordoba, now one of the most famous churches in Europe, was once a mosque.

Admission is free during the first hour of the day between 8:30-9:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, but if you plan to visit after that there is a fee to enter and tour the cathedral.

Why is the Cathedral of Cordoba famous?

Once a Muslim Mosque, the Cathedral of Cordoba is one of the most notable examples of Islamic architecture in Europe. 

Admission:

  • Free between 8:30am and 9:30 am
  • €11 for adults
  • €9 for seniors and students
  • Children 10 and under are free
  • Skip-the-line ticket

Famous European Cathedrals in Germany

While Germany may not have as many significant churches as countries like Italy or France, it is home to some of the tallest, largest and most famous churches in Europe.

Cologne Cathedral – Cologne, Germany

Cologne is located in northwest Germany, and the Cologne cathedral sits near the Rhine River, which cuts through the city. 

The Cologne Cathedral was constructed beginning in the 1200’s but wasn’t finished until the late 1800’s. During World War II, Cologne endured the heaviest single night bombing in Germany, with over 1500 tons of bombs dropped on the city. While the city suffered severe destruction and the cathedral itself took 14 direct hits, it miraculously remained standing and intact. 

With towering, twin steeples, Kölner Dom is the tallest cathedral in the world (and third tallest church). The cathedral is a classic example of Gothic architecture, with large stained glass windows, pointed arches, and flying buttresses. The outside of the cathedral is dark because the sandstone reacts to the sulfuric rain, turning it that darker color. 

Exterior of Cologne Cathedral is the second tallest church in Europe.
Cologne Cathedral is the second tallest church in Europe. | Photo by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

The exterior features many intricate carvings and sculptures, and the interior is spacious and inspiring. The cathedral also houses the relics of the three Magi, and a very ornate, golden shrine houses these relics behind the high altar of the cathedral. 

Entry to the church is free, but for 6 euro, you can ascend the 533 steps in the south tower for an impressive view over the city. During the Christmas season, the Dom Market of the Cologne Christmas Market takes place in the square to the side of the church, with the cathedral making an impressive backdrop to the winter wonderland.

Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Why is Cologne Cathedral famous?

Cologne Cathedral is the tallest twin-spired church in the world and the second tallest church in Europe.

Admission:

  • Free to enter
  • €6 to climb the south tower

Berlin Cathedral – Berlin, Germany 

The Berlin Cathedral, or Berliner Dom, is a must when you’re visiting Berlin. This historic church is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Berlin, and it’s a gorgeous building with ornate details inside and out.

This Protestant cathedral dates back to the 15th century, though it has been rebuilt several times. In the late 1800s, Wilhelm II, the ruler at the time, deemed it to be too modest, and many plans were presented before he agreed to one that was grand enough. By 1905, after 11 years of construction, the new church was finally finished.

Exterior of Berlin Cathedral or Berliner Dom in the capital of Germany at sunset
Berlin Cathedral or Berliner Dom in the capital of Germany. | Photo by Adrian from Pixabay

Unfortunately the cathedral suffered a lot of damage during World War II. When Berlin was divided into East and West, the Berliner Dom was located in the East, and only modest repairs were done beginning in 1975. It wasn’t until several years after the Berlin Wall fell that full restoration work began.

Today you can visit the cathedral as a tourist to admire its beauty. There’s a museum, the Hohenzollern crypt, and you can climb 270 steps to an outside walkway on the church’s dome for excellent views of the city.

The Berlin Cathedral is located on Museum Island just steps away from the city’s most famous museums. The closest transport station is Museumsinsel on the U5 Ubahn line. Cathedral entrance, tour, and dome access is 9 euros. This is still an active church, so visitation is not permitted when services are taking place.

Ali from Berlin Travel Tips

Why is Berliner Dom famous?

The Berlin Cathedral is the largest church in Berlin and is most famous for its monumental dome that serves as a recognizable landmark in Berlin. 

Admission:

  • €9 including entrance, tour and dome access 

Famous European Churches in the United Kingdom and Ireland

The United Kingdom and Ireland have some of the grandest and even the smallest among our list of notable churches in Europe. Many are very old, and their age alone makes them significant. But others have gained notoriety for other reasons.  

Westminster Abbey – London, England

Perhaps the most famous church in England, Westminster Abbey is the final resting place to more than 3,000 people – Including kings, queens, famous authors, poets, and influential figures such as the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking.

Exterior of Westminster Abbey in London
Westminster Abbey in London, one of the most famous churches in Europe due to the number of famous people buried or entombed there.

The abbey is an Anglican church that dates back to the mid-900s in London, although construction of the modern-day Westminster Abbey didn’t start until the mid-1200s. 

Although it is one of the most famous churches in Europe, Westminster Abbey is most notable for the many people who have been buried there. To get the most out of your visit to Westminster get an audio guide so you don’t miss any of the significant tombs or areas of the Abbey and church.

Why is Westminster famous?

One of the most famous churches in England, Westminster Abbey is most notable for the thousands of influential people who are buried or entombed within the Abbey. 

Admission:

St. Paul’s Cathedral – London, England

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most impressive churches in London. It is visible from many places due to its location at the highest point of the city. This Grade I Listed building situated in Ludgate Hill was completed in 1710 and dedicated to Paul the Apostle.

For many years it was the tallest building in London at 111m height. However, the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is still one of the highest in the world. It is also the second-largest religious building in the UK.

St Pauls cathedral from across the River Thames
St Paul’s Cathedral is visible from across the River Thames as it is built on the highest point in London. | Photo by Paulina from ukeveryday

You can visit St Paul’s Cathedral between Monday and Saturday. It is open from 10 am on Wednesdays and 8:30 am on the rest of the days. It is always worth checking the official church’s website calendar before your visit as there might be some events happening in the church.

If you want to worship at St Paul’s Cathedral it is free, however, if you want to sight-see you will need to buy a ticket. There are various discounts for groups, but if you travel alone the prices start at £18 per adult.

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the churches that cannot be missed when visiting London. It is famous due to many important events such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer. Who wouldn’t want to see such an iconic building in London?

Paulina from ukeveryday

Why is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London famous?

St. Paul’s Cathedral is famous because of the significant historical events that have taken place at the church, including the wedding of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, and the funeral of Winston Churchill. 

Admission:

Durham Cathedral – Durham, England

Located in the cathedral city of Durham in Northeast England, Durham Cathedral is one of the most famous churches in Europe. Built in the late 11th century, Durham Cathedral, alongside the adjacent Durham Castle, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visiting this Norman-Architecture cathedral is certainly one of the best things to do in Durham.

Durham Cathedral is most famous for the final resting place of St Cuthbert – the patron Saint of North England. Step inside the cathedral and discover more than 1000 years of fascinating history, including how the monks of Lindisfarne found the final resting of St Cuthbert here in this cathedral after 200 years of wandering, how the present structure was built after the Norman conquest, and of course about the Prince Bishops.

Durham Cathedral overlooking the River Wear.
Durham Cathedral overlooking the River Wear. | Photo by Moumita and Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Prince Bishops were the bishops of this cathedral, and they had enormous power. They used to live in the adjacent Durham Castle and later in Auckland Castle in County Durham.

Also, look for the tomb of Venerable Bede, regarded as the father of English History. You will find some finest works of ornamental screens and painted glasses around the cathedral.

Don’t miss the impressive cloisters. They were featured in the Harry Potter films and Avengers: Endgame. Entry to this cathedral is completely free.

Moumita and Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Why is Durham Cathedral famous?

Durham Cathedral is most notable for being the final resting place of St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of North England. Although in more modern times, it was featured in the Harry Potter films giving people another reason to visit.

Admission:

  • Free to visit

Christ Church Cathedral – Dublin, Ireland

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland was originally a Viking church built in the early 11th century, but it was extensively renovated in the late 19th century leaving it a unique mix of medieval and later church building. The cathedral is now one of the oldest and most famous churches in Dublin, and in the whole of Ireland.

Located in Dublin’s city center, the cathedral is known for its beauty and impressive sense of spirituality. A highlight for visitors is to walk through the Christ Church Cathedral Labyrinth to reflect, pray, and find peace. Arguably the most impressive feature of any of Ireland’s churches is Christ Church Cathedral’s Crypt, one of the largest in the UK and Ireland and the oldest building in continuous use in Dublin.

Exterior of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.
Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. | Photo by Gabriel Ramos from Unsplash

The Crypt currently holds the tombs of some of Ireland’s important religious figures, historical artifacts, a treasury, a mummified cat and rat, the oldest known secular carvings in Ireland, and (surprisingly?) a family dress-up area. Amongst other artifacts, the treasury holds rare church silver and a rare 14th century copy of the Magna Carta Hiberniae.

Janelle from Make the Trip Matter

Why is Christ Church in Dublin famous?

Christ Church is one of the oldest buildings in Ireland and contains one of the largest crypts. Among the remains on display in the crypt are a mummified cat and rat.

Admission with audio guide:

  • €10 for adults 
  • €8.50 for seniors/students 
  • €3.50 for children under 12
  • Entrance ticket

Little Chapel on Guernsey – Guernsey, British Channel Islands

At 16 feet by 9 feet, the Little Chapel on Guernsey in the Channel Islands is said to be the world’s smallest consecrated chapel. Originating in 1914 (and initially an even smaller 9 feet by 4.5 feet), it was built by Brother Deodat, with the intention that the Chapel should imitate a basilica in Lourdes.

However, it was demolished and rebuilt twice before ending up at its present size. Restoration of the chapel started in the late 1970s to maintain it in its current state.

Despite its diminutive size, the chapel manages to pack a lot in. There are stairs that take you down to even smaller rooms with shrines in them. The whole place is quite unique.

Little Chapel on Guernsey - one of the most famous churches in Europe because it is the smallest consecrated chapel in the world.
Little Chapel on Guernsey is one of the most famous churches in Europe because it is the smallest consecrated chapel in the world. | Photo by Emma from Travel on a Time Budget

However, the size of the chapel is not the only notable thing about it. It is also uniquely bedecked with seashells, pebbles and broken china, both inside and out. It is absolutely gorgeous.

It is definitely worth the effort to get to the chapel and should be added to any sightseeing itinerary for a visit to Guernsey. It is based in the parish of St. Andrew and is free to go in. From May to September it is open from 9 am until 6 pm; for the remainder of the year, it closes two hours earlier.

Emma from Travel on a Time Budget

Why is Little Chapel on Guernsey famous?

The Little Chapel on Guernsey is famous for being the smallest consecrated chapel in the world.

Admission:

  • Free to visit 

Famous churches in Northern Europe

The Nordic countries and even some of the other countries in Northern Europe were first settled by the Vikings, but as Christianity spread into Northern Europe, some of the more interesting churches in Europe were established. 

Hallgrimskirkja – Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrimskirkja is not only an interesting cathedral, but if you climb the tower, it offers the best views in the city. One of the most famous cathedrals in Europe, Hallgrimskirkja has a stair-stepped concrete facade and at 244 feet tall, it is one of the tallest structures in Iceland. 

Although visiting the church in the center of Reykjavik is free, there is a fee of approximately $8 USD/adult to go up in the tower. 

Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik - a famous European church due to its unique stair-step architectural design.
Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik is a famous European church because of its unique architectural design.

A great addition to any Iceland itinerary, the church’s unique columned design was inspired by the Svartifoss waterfall – one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. The iconic waterfall, located in the southwestern portion of the island, cascades over a wall formed by rectangular columns of stacked lava rock.

Why is Hallgrimskirkja famous?

This famous European cathedral in Iceland receives its notoriety because of its unique, stair step design. It is one of the most architecturally district churches in the world.

Admission:

  • Free to enter
  • Towers – $8 

Borgund Stavkirke – Borgund, Norway

The only church on this list built entirely from wood rather than stone or brick, the Borgund Stave Church in Norway is one of the most distinctive, famous churches in Europe. 

Located in Borgund, Norway, an easy day trip from the picturesque village of Flam, the medieval stave church dates back to around the year 1200, when Christian beliefs started becoming more widespread across Scandinavia, a region of Europe first settled by Vikings. The Viking heritage is evident by the carved dragon heads at the top of the multi-tiered stave church.

Borgund Stave church - the most well-preserved stave church in Norway.
Borgund Stave church is the most well-preserved stave church in Norway. Photo by Neve Nera from Pixabay

At one time, there may have been as many as 1000 stave churches throughout Norway and other Scandinavian cities, but now only 28 remain. Borgund Stavkirke is the most well-preserved stave church in Norway. If you can’t make it to Borgund, you can also find a stave church outside the popular coastal city of Bergen, or at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History in Norway’s capital city of Oslo.  

Why is Borgund Stave Church famous?

Borgund Stavkirke is the most well-preserved stave church in Norway. Built entirely from wood, the remarkable church has stood for more than 1,000 years.

Admission:

  • Adults: NOK 80 
  • Children over 5 years old: NOK 60

Helsinki Cathedral – Helsinki, Finland

One of the most iconic and famous churches in Europe is Helsinki Cathedral. Standing proudly in Senate Square in the heart of Helsinki, it’s a landmark of the city.

The Helsinki Cathedral should be a part of everyone’s itinerary – even if you only have one day in Helsinki. The pristine white cathedral is breathtaking and the design is impeccable. It was originally named St. Nicholas’ Church until Finland gained independence in 1917. It was designed in a Neo-classicism style by Carl Ludwig Engle (who also designed Brandenburg Gate in Berlin). 

Helsinki Cathedral was built on a Greek cross plan and is symmetrical in the four cardinal directions. Inside, there are a number of intricate carvings and statues. The most breathtaking feature, however, is located atop the entrance. The Cathedral has an exquisite organ. The current one was made in 1967 but resembles the original one quite well. 

Helsinki Cathedral towering over the Helsinki skyline
Helsinki Cathedral towering over the Helsinki skyline. | Photo by Tapio Haaja from Pixabay

The Cathedral is open Mon-Sat 9 am-6 pm and Sunday 11 am-6 pm. An admission cost of five euros is recommended and the money goes to the congregation. Be sure to check the church calendar for any special events. 

Helsinki Cathedral’s beauty is what makes it one of the most famous churches in Europe and definitely worth a visit!

Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Why is the Helsinki Cathedral famous?

Widely considered one of the most recognizable buildings in all of Finland, the Helsinki Cathedral prominence makes it a famous national landmark as well as a church.

Admission:

  • €5 donation recommended per guest

Cathedral of Our Lady – Antwerp, Belgium

The Cathedral of Our Lady, also called De Kathedraal, is found in the center of Handschoenmarkt (Glove Market), a square in the Historic Center of Antwerp, Belgium. This stunning Gothic building was completed in 1521, after nearly 170 years of construction. Since then it has survived fires, French revolutionaries and the Eight Years War. It is the tallest church in the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and the belfry is a UNESCO world heritage site. 

The Cathedral of our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium
The Cathedral of our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium. | Photo by Brian Dorff from Pixabay

The Roman Catholic cathedral is still very much a functioning church with regular services held every week. It is also home to many artistic masterpieces including 4 works by famous Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived in Antwerp for part of his life. This stunning building is not to be missed and is one of the top attractions for your Belgium travel bucket list.

The Cathedral is open for visitors every day and entry costs 8 Euros for adults. Children can enter for free. In true Belgian style, the Cathedral has an attached bistro where you can try the Cathedral beer, which comes in blonde and dark varieties.

Kate from Kate Abroad

Why is the Cathedral of our Lady in Antwerp famous?

The Cathedral of our Lady of Antwerp is mostly renowned for the famous paintings and works of art inside, including the Assumption of the Virgin. 

Admission:

  • €8 per adult
  • Free for children

Famous churches in Eastern Europe

Last but not least, Eastern Europe has no shortage of beautiful European cathedrals. This region of Europe, however, has a complex history. Although Christianity in this region dates all the way back to the days of Christ, parts of Eastern Europe are predominantly Muslim now or were under Communist rule for decades and religion lost its importance. 

Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

The Hagia Sophia has been considered one of the most beautiful churches in Europe for over 1,500 years. The Byzantine style church was built as a Christian cathedral in 537 AD and stood as the largest church of the Eartern Roman Empire. Its stately presence overlooking the city, surrounded by the Bosphorus, is an iconic part of the Istanbul skyline. 

It was converted into a mosque in 1453, a museum in 1935, a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and converted to a mosque again in 2020. The Hagia Sophia is famous for its large dome, minarets, and intricate Christian mosaics, some of which have been covered with striking black and gold medallions. Visitors to Hagia Sophia can expect to see a mixture of both Christian and Islamic art. 

Interior of Hagia Sofia in Turkey.
Hagia Sofia was once one of the most famous churches in Europe – but it is now a Muslim mosque. Photo by Jenifer from The Evolista

It truly stands as a part of living history and is a highlight of a Turkey itinerary. The best time to visit is early in the morning when there are fewer crowds. Admission is free and non Muslims may enter outside of prayer times. While the dress code for Turkey is modern, women need to wear a head covering inside the mosque. Also, men and women may not wear shorts, short skirts or have bare shoulders.

Jenifer from The Evolista

Why is Hagia Sophia famous?

The only famous European church on our list that is now a mosque, Hagia Sofia is famous for its mix of Muslim and Christian art, and is a glimpse of Turkish history and how the country has evolved over time.

Admission:

St. Vitus Cathedral – Prague, Czech Republic

The largest temple in Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral is the most dominant building within the Prague Castle complex, one of the best places to visit in Prague.  The cathedral towers above the city skyline, visible from many parts of the city. It sits on the edge of Mala Stana, or Lesser Town, one of the best areas in Prague to stay in for tourists and home to some of the most quirky statues in Prague.

Construction on the church began in 1344 and took six centuries to complete. The cathedral, which once hosted the coronation of kings and queens, now serves as their final resting place. In the crypt below the church, Czech kings, queens and patron saints are interred. It now also serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. 

St. Vitus Cathedral, the most prominent building in the Prague Castle Complex.
St. Vitus Cathedral, the most prominent building in the Prague Castle Complex.

Entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral is included with your self-guided ticket to the Prague Castle complex. However, you will need a separate ticket if you would like to climb the narrow 287 steps up the 300-foot tall tower. 

Why is St. Vitus Cathedral famous?

The cathedral which is part of the Prague Castle complex is famous for its historical significance as a place where royalty came to power and were later entombed, and as a prominent part of the Prague skyline.

Admission (Entrance included with Prague Castle):

Stephansdom – Vienna, Austria

Even if you only have one day in Vienna, Austria, a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, is a must. The cathedral is perhaps most noted for its tiled roof. The ornate, colorful tiles form a mosaic double-headed eagle, a symbol of the Habsburg dynasty which ruled Vienna in the second millennium. 

The magnificent church sits prominently in Stephansplatz, a lively square at the beginning of the Graben, and a stone’s throw from one of the most famous statues in Europe, the Column of Pest. Located in District 1, or Innere Stadt, one of the best neighborhoods in Vienna to stay in for first time visitors, there are lots of hotels, restaurants, shops, and other popular attractions surrounding the beautiful cathedral.

The exterior of Stephansdom in Vienna
Stephansdom in Vienna is one of the most famous churches in Europe because of its mosaic tiled roof.

If visiting Stephansdom, be sure to climb the spiral staircase of the cathedral’s south tower. The tower has a total of 343 steps and boasts a serene view over the city, as it is one of the most prominent features of Vienna’s skyline. Access to the tower does come with an admission fee, but the view is well worth it!

Why is St. Stephen’s in Vienna famous?

Most notable for its tiled, mosaic roof, the cathedral in the heart of Vienna is also the mother church to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna.

Admission:

  • Free to enter
  • All-inclusive ticket with audio guide, catacombs, and tower access:  €16 for adults 
  • All-inclusive ticket with audio guide, catacombs, and tower access: €5 for children
  • Secrets of the Cathedral guided tour

Blue Church  – Bratislava, Slovakia

The Blue Church in Bratislava is a spectacular place to visit and is rather unique in design, as it looks like it’s in a fairytale. Officially, it is known as the Church of St. Elizabeth however; it is more commonly known as the Blue Church. This is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church to the east of the historic old town area of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It is a 15-minute walk from the center of the city to reach the church.

Hungarian architect Ödön Lechner created the Blue Church. He designed it in the art nouveau style of architecture. They built the Blue Church between 1908 and 1913. The ground floor is oval and the outside decorative, including blue glazed tiles on the roof. It is the most beautiful art nouveau building in the country.

The blue exterior of Church of St. Elizabeth in Bratislava
The Blue Church in Bratislava is one of the most recognizable churches in Europe. Photo by Reseuhu from Unsplash

The church is well worth visiting even if you only have one day in Bratislava. When it is beautiful outside, especially on a sunny day, the church often matches the sky. To visit inside you need to check the opening times, however it is usually open early in the morning or after 17:30 each evening and is free to enter. Even if not open, the exterior is wonderful to look around and they leave the external door open so you can look through a glass door when it’s closed.

Rich from RJ on Tour

Why is the Blue Church in Bratislava famous?

Church as St. Elizabeth in Bratislava is most notable for its pastel blue facade, which gives the church its nickname – the Blue Church.

Admission:

  • Free to visit

St Stephen’s Basilica – Budapest, Hungary 

Budapest is one of Europe’s finest capitals with many landmark buildings. Amongst the most notable is Hungary’s most important church, St Stephen’s Basilica, named after Hungary’s first King. At the time, legislation forbade any building taller than the Parliament Building’s 96 meters, so it was built equal height, and became one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest.

Construction began in 1848 and in 1868 when the cupola collapsed, the entire works were demolished and rebuilt. After a series of unfortunate events, it took 3 architects 54 years to construct the Neo-Renaissance Basilica.

Inside awed by the beautifully carved wooden pews, exquisite stained-glass windows, marvelous frescoes, statues, mosaics and the dominating cupola. The intricacy of the floor, array of marble columns and gilded gold in the ceilings are a sight to behold.

The interior and dome of St. Stephen's in Budapest.
The interior of St. Stephen’s in Budapest. |Photo by Ian Kelsall from Pixabay

Located in Pest in the spacious Szt István Square, St Stephen’s plays an active musical role with the Head Organists having always been highly regarded. Organ concerts are performed each Thursday. The Basilica is home to many classical, contemporary, and choral musical performances and the Advent Festival & Fair, complete with massive Christmas tree and ice skating rink.

The most unique feature is it houses Hungary’s most sacred treasure, St Stephen’s mummified right hand.

Entry is free and you can pay to climb the 364 stairs or access the dome by elevator for the city’s best 360° views overlooking Budapest.

Pictures don’t always do a place justice, and St Stephen’s Basilica is one of those places, you simply must see it for yourself. 

Lyn Baker from A Hole in my Shoe

Why is St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest famous?

Named after the first king of Hungary, the church’s relics include the king’s mummified hand. Perhaps, its most famous feature.

Admission:

Matthias Church – Budapest, Hungary

With an imposing location in the Buda Castle District which overlooks the Danube River and the Pest side, Matthias Church is a must-see landmark in Budapest and one of the most beautiful churches in Europe.

Also called The Church of Our Lady, the Roman Catholic church dates back to the 14th century and is located right next to the charming Fisherman’s Bastion. Its Gothic architectural style, along with the colorful roof tiles, makes it one of the best photo spots in the city.

Matthias Church in Budapest. | Photo by Or from My Path in the World

But beyond its beauty, Matthias Church should also be on your Budapest itinerary for its historical significance. It’s the burial place of Béla III of Hungary and his wife Agnes of Antioch, as well as the location of the coronation of the last two Hungarian kings, Franz Joseph I and Charles I.

The church is open every day, but due to the different events it hosts, it’s best to consult the official website to see the exact opening hours on each date. The entrance fee is 2000 HUF (about €5.3), and access to the tower costs 2200 HUF (about €5.8).

From spring to winter, Matthias Church also hosts classical music concerts, which usually take place on Friday evenings.

Or from My Path in the World 

Why is Mattias Church famous?

Mattias Church is the most visited Catholic church in Budapest. It has been the site of royal weddings and burials and plays host to classical concerts due to its impressive acoustics.

Admission:

Church of St. Jovan Kaneo – Kaneo Beach, North Macedonia 

Europe is full of some of the most famous and beautiful churches on Earth. With so many options it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. However there is one breathtaking church you cannot miss, The Church of St. Jovan Kaneo.

The Church of St. Jovan Kaneo is a Macedonian Orthodox church. You will find this most incredible church sitting peacefully on the cliff above Kaneo Beach, Northern Macedonia. The church overlooks Lake Ohrid and it is one of Macedonia’s most important sights.

The Church itself is simple, elegant but incredibly impressive. You can only reach the Church of St. Jovan Kaneo only by foot. The distance is around 1.5km from the town of Ohrid and a bit of a climb, but totally worth it.

Church of St Jovan Kaneo overlooking the waters of Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia.
Church of St Jovan Kaneo overlooking the waters of Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia. | Photo by Lowri from Many Other Roads

The 14th century church is one of the most beautiful in Europe because of its outstanding panoramic views. It is worth stopping here for the views alone but you can step inside the church’s ancient walls for MKD 100 per person. The church is open 09:00 am – 06:00 pm so you can take your time and admire the views Lake Ohrid has to offer on the way.

Lowri from Many Other Roads

Why is the Church of St Jovan Kaneo famous?

The church perched high on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid is famous for its breathtaking views.

Admission:

  • 100 MKD per person

St. Mary’s Basilica – Krakow, Poland

Located in Krakow, Poland, one famous church in Europe worth mentioning is the St. Mary’s Basilica church. Dating back to the 13th century, the church was finalized in the 14th century. This beautiful church became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. Inside you can find some beautiful stained glass and wooden altarpieces carved by Veit Stoss. If you’re interested in Polish gothic architecture, the St. Mary’s Basilica is also one of the best from its time.  

St. Mary's Basilica in the Old Town Krakow at night
St. Mary’s Basilica in the heart of Old Town Krakow. | Photo by Zoe from Together in Transit

There is something very special about the St. Mary’s Basilica. Every day at every hour, for every day of the year, a trumpet player is played from the very top of the tower. There are many kids’ fairy tales and rumors about why this is the case, but the official story is that during a Mongal attack on the city, the trumpeter was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm.

These days you can visit daily inside between 11.30am and 6.00pm, and can even climb the tower for some beautiful views of the city. There are also tours for those that want to learn more about the history and the church together. It’s perfect to see and combine on a weekend or day trip to Krakow

Zoe from Together in Transit

Why is St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow famous?

Most uniquely known for the trumpeter who plays the trumpet every hour on the hour each day.  

Admission:

  • 15 pln per adult
  • Seniors, students, and children 8+: 8pln
  • Children under 8: free

Church on the Lake – Bled, Slovenia

Although commonly called the Church on the Lake, the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake or Church of the Assumption, is situated picturesquely on an island in Lake Bled, Slovenia. 

The church visible today dates back to the 17th century, but the history goes back much further than that. In fact, the history of human settlement on Bled Island dates back to the prehistoric, pre-Christian period. Skeletons that date back to the 9th through 11th century can even be viewed inside the church. 

The Church on Bled Island in Slovenia from a distance - one of the most famous churches in Europe simply because of it's picturesque nature.
The Church on Lake Bled, Slovenia is one of the most famous churches in Europe simply because of it’s picturesque nature. | Photo by Ian Procter from Pixabay

The wishing bell is perhaps most notable in this beautiful Bled Island church. The bell, which sits in the belfry, is surrounded by folklore and legends. Some believe good luck awaits everyone who rings the bell, so many visitors to the famous European church ring the bell hoping their wishes will be fulfilled.  

Why is the Church on Lake Bled famous?

The Church of the Assumption on Lake Bled is famous for its majestic beauty, perched on a hill in the center of an island on the lake, but the church is also notable for the rich folklore and legends that surround it.  

Admission:

Meteora – Kalabaka, Greece

Perhaps the most jaw dropping church in Europe is actually a series of famous monasteries built atop cliffs in Greece. Commonly known as Meteora, which means “suspended in air”, the sandstone peaks are home to several monasteries first built by hermit monks in the 14th century. It is one of the most important centers of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

One of the six active monasteries at Meteora perched on a cliff
One of the six active monasteries at Meteora you can actually visit. | Photo by George Tasios from Unsplash

While Meteora actually consists of 24 monasteries – six are still active and home to approximately 60 monks and nuns. But the monks and nuns no longer have the serenity of solitude as Meteora has become a popular tourist attraction in Greece. To visit all six monasteries in Meteora give yourself at least 2 full days.

Why is Meteora famous?

The monasteries in Meteora are famously built high atop the peaks of sandstone cliffs near the town of Kalambaka, Greece.

Admission:

Like it? Pin this list of famous churches in Europe to save it for later!

Have a question or comment about any of these famous churches in Europe? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts – or tell us your favorite famous Europe Church –  in the comments below. 

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.