From centuries ago, it has been common practice to erect religious structures as symbols of reverence and worship throughout various cultures around the world. Over time, these sacred sites have become more than just pieces of architecture. They are reflections of faith, craftsmanship, and intricate design.
Coming face to face with these majestic monuments is a wonderful experience in itself as one gets a feel for how religion links us all together on a spiritual level.
1. Wat Xeng Thong, Laos
Xiangtong Temple is the top architectural treasure of Laos and enjoys a high reputation worldwide.
And the Xiangtong Temple is located in Luang Prabang, Laos-it is the place titled “Double Heritage“. In 1995, UNESCO awarded Luang Prabang the honor of “Nature and Culture” double heritage city.
2. Bone Church Series
One is the Bone Church in Evora, Portugal.
Evora is a historic city in Portugal, which was built in the third century AD during the Roman Empire and is very beautiful.
It is most famous for its Church of Bones—the full name is San Francisco Church, which took thirty years to complete in 1510. It is a Catholic church that combines Gothic, Baroque, and Manueline styles.
From the walls to the pillars of the church, it is made of human bones. The neatly arranged human bones or heads give people a strong visual shock.
The Évora church has collected about 5,000 human bones, effectively “handling” the problem of limited cemetery space.
Tips: The church charges tickets and is open to the public; photography is allowed indoors.
Second, the Bone Church in Milan, Italy.
Visitors to Milan will undoubtedly visit the Milan Cathedral.
Many people don’t know that the Bone Church in Milan is near the back of the Milan Cathedral.
Its full name is the Basilica of Santo Stefano, and its origins date back to the 12th century.
Of course, this is another story of human bones accumulating slowly and having no place to store them.
Tips: The church is free to visit, and there are few tourists; photography is allowed indoors.
Third, the Bone Church in Rome, Italy.
There are so many famous sights in Rome that tourists rarely visit its Ossuary Church.
The shape of the church is very simple. The interior of the church is very beautiful- the pattern of human bone patchwork is very beautiful. It is an artistic level.
There is a sentence engraved at the entrance of the church, which is impressive: “Your present is our past, and our present is your future.”
The Bone Church is on Via Veneto in Rome, near Piazza Barberini.
Tips: Tickets are charged for this church; photography is prohibited indoors.
In addition, the Kutna Hora Bone Church in the Czech Republic is recognized as the coolest one!
The Church of Ossuary in Lima, the capital of Peru, is famous for the catacombs of 70,000 people.
3. The Organ Church in Copenhagen, Denmark.
I have a very high opinion of the pipe organ church on the outskirts of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Let’s put it this way. There are many different versions of the world’s most beautiful church rankings. If it is not selected, then this list will not matter.
The organ church is a common name given to it according to its shape, but it is called Glentwey Church. It uses a single material, texture, and color from the inside to the outside.
This makes it look very pure, very simple, and very dignified.
A single plain makeup is not the same as boring or powerless. The organ church is a classic expressionist school in terms of architecture.
Tips: By the way, to the beauties, it is very suitable for the background space of your portrait photography.
4. Five monasteries in Suceava, Romania.
From a travel perspective alone, Romania is a seriously underrated destination. And the five little-known monasteries in the country are even less visited by tourists. But they are the essence of Romanian medieval architecture and frescoes, which are famous in Europe!
The five monasteries were listed as a world cultural heritage in 1993, and the influence of their murals is famous worldwide; among them, the “Last Judgment” can be called a treasure in the world’s religious circles.
But this destination is not easy to reach. Anyway, I spent 3 days travelling from Suceava to Bucharest, the capital of Romania, for this destination.
It is a pity that the Ukrainian army has historically invaded Romania and greedily scraped the gold in the paint from the monastery’s frescoes.
In addition, the murals that have been exposed for many years are also facing the danger of weathering and peeling off.
5. Balkan-style lakeside monastery in North Macedonia.
The country that became independent from the disintegration of Yugoslavia was originally called “Macedonia“.
Greece is not calm instantly: The Macedonian Empire has a huge territory. Why do you touch porcelain like this?
The two countries fought endlessly over this and finally reached a compromise-you can continue to use the glorious name “Macedonia”, but you must add a word in front.
So, now it becomes “North Macedonia”.
I have travelled to all the countries after the disintegration of Yugoslavia. From the perspective of travel alone, the tourism resources of North Macedonia are almost the weakest. Because its capital, Skopje, experienced a major earthquake, almost all the old houses with historical context collapsed. The current Skopje is completely new and rebuilt.
Even so, the country has a large lake, Ohrid, and its small Balkan-style monasteries by the lake are not unique but also very attractive.
6. The Hanging Monasteries of Meteora, Greece.
We must discuss Meteora in Greece now that we are talking about Greece.
The air monastery of Meteora is amazing not only for the building itself but also for the tenacious vitality of religious belief.
It is said that in the 15th century, to avoid the pursuit of pagans by Turkish soldiers, the Greek Orthodox Christians fled into the mountains of Salamanca and built 24 monasteries on the top of the cliff. To avoid killing, access to the monastery could only rely on vertical lifting ropes, rattan baskets and pulleys, which became the mainstay against the Turkish invasion and Islamization.
It has to be said that this approach is shocking – stand on the cliff, put it to death and survive!
There are 7 existing air monasteries in Greece, listed as world cultural heritage in 1998.
7. Churches in Moscow’s Red Square and the Kremlin.
It is said that the churches in the Kremlin are very beautiful-the Church of the Twelve Apostles, the Church of the Assumption, the Church of the Annunciation, and the Church of St. Michael.
Not to mention St. Basil’s Church on Red Square has already become one of the symbols of Russia.
It was Ivan IV who ordered the construction of these churches. He looked at his works, and the more he looked at them, the more beautiful he felt, and the more he looked at them, the more worried he became!
Ivan IV was a “super” architectural fan, and he was worried that his designer would design works that surpassed St. Basil’s Cathedral in the future.
In order to completely dispel this doubt, Ivan IV ordered the designer’s eyes to be dug out.
8. The Russian onion’s ancestor- the old Vladimir church.
Isn’t the famous Church on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, amazing?
Isn’t the famous Saint Basil’s Church on Moscow’s Red Square beautiful?
Suzdal is enough for a fairy tale, right?
Is Sergeyev’s Holy Trinity Church old enough?
In terms of architectural lineage, they can all be traced back to a city – Vladimir.
Located in the center of the European part of Russia, Vladimir is known as the “Millennium Ancient Capital” and is the pearl of Russia.
Because Vladimir is not only an older city than Moscow, but almost all Russian churches can find their cultural origins here!
Vladimir’s white stone building, Golden Gate, Dormition Cathedral, Dmitriev Church, and the Church of Our Lady of the Nerli Estuary are all included in the World Cultural Heritage List.
They determine the direction of Russian national architecture.
9. Georgia has two churches, one large and one small.
There is a small church in the Kazbek Mountains, a famous natural landscape scenic spot in Georgia, known as “the highest church in the world“.
Its beauty is that it takes the rolling mountains as the background.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is one of the largest churches in Transcaucasus.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, has a Sophia Cathedral, which looks a bit like the one in Georgia. It is one of the largest churches in the Balkans.
Also, the cathedral in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is one of the largest churches in the Balkans.
10. The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Lithuania
Speaking of the Travel Channel alone, Lithuania is the most unmissable destination among the three Baltic countries.
Of course, Lithuania is the spokesperson of the three Baltic countries, and they are keen on all kinds of jumping, so let’s not express it.
The old town of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, is beautiful!
An “inconspicuous” church in the old city is called St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
It is said to be “inconspicuous” because the appearance of this church is very low-key and unassuming.
But once you walk into the church, you might be confused momentarily. Its interior effect is shocking!
This is not ridiculous. You should know the Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky. He also visited this church, and the mental journey recorded in his travel notes is the same as ours.
11. Old churches in Armenia.
Armenia is the most worth visiting among the three Transcaucasus countries.
On the one hand, the country’s consumption is cheap, and the people are generally gentle and friendly; on the other hand, the monasteries at the World Heritage level are very simple. For example, the monasteries passed by the Lake Sevan and Tajef routes, and almost everyone is impressive.
Lake Sevan Route: Haghpat Monastery and Sanahin Monastery. These two monastery complexes combine the architectural style of Byzantine churches and the native traditional architectural styles of the Caucasus region, representing the top level of Armenian religious architecture.
Tajef Route: This route has three monasteries, all of which are not to be missed.
The sacred mountain opposite the Shenkeng Monastery is the last stop of the legendary Noah’s Ark.
Norawangk Abbey is a rare and characteristic two-storey monastic building with warm colours.
The Tajef Monastery stands on the cliffs and is very impressive.
In addition, what amazes me is that almost all monasteries in Armenia have exquisite religious stone carvings, which are very artistic.
12. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
How would you rate this building?
Those who like it love it to death, and those who hate it hate it.
It is the most famous unfinished building in the world. It was built in 1882, and the Spanish architect Gaudí took over the project in 1883 until his death in 1926 at 73.
It is the most famous illegal building in the world. October 2018. It was exposed that it had never obtained a construction permit from the Barcelona Municipal Government. As a result, the city government issued a fine of 36 million euros to be paid over ten years.
Its awesome-the church has not yet been completed and has been selected as a World Heritage Site.
Some people say it is the most beautiful church in the world, but not one of them.
Others say that it is the best performance art in Spain, and it has been showing the presence of Barcelona to the world for more than 130 years.
In fact, many cathedrals in Europe have been built for over a hundred years, but this guy parallels our lifeline.
13. The Seaside Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco.
From a travel standpoint, Casablanca doesn’t have many places to stop.
But it has a mosque by the sea, which is very beautiful.
14. The mosque in University City, Qatar.
You also know Qatar, which just hosted the World Cup, is rich!
Looking at the shape, Qatar University City is already luxurious enough.
At the human scale of the building, at the entrance of warm colors, you can see female college students in robes. Interestingly, the girls wear black or grey gowns, and then the colorful and fashionable skirts are exposed under the gowns.
The feeling is that the outer clothes belong to the conventional world, and the inner skirts belong to the space of self-freedom.
This is its interior – there is a huge mosque, a very luxurious indoor mosque!
Tips: It can be visited, but only mobile phones can take pictures.
This mosque is very modern.
The design technique also has the meaning of “boundless”. Note that some walls and roofs are shaped as a whole.
There are also “random misspelt stars” on the roof.
15. Two churches in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is 2,852 meters above sea level and is one of the highest capitals in the world.
Interestingly, it is only 24 kilometers away from the equator, but it is not hot all year round because of this. On the contrary, because of its high altitude, it has become a city with a pleasant climate, spring-like seasons, and the smallest annual temperature difference.
Quito was originally the center of the Kitu Indians. It was founded in the 11th century and became the capital of the Inca Empire in the 15th century.
Quito has a Compania Jesus Cathedral, the oldest church in the entire city, with a history of more than 500 years.
It is known as the most beautiful church in South America – the appearance is complicated and delicate, and the interior is luxurious and splendid. It is said that the ceiling, altar and walls inside used more than 7 tons of gold!
There is also the Cathedral of Quito, also known as the Cathedral of the National Oath. The church is very large and is the largest Gothic church in Latin America.
Standing at the door, it is a bit like Notre Dame de Paris, but the refinement is too poor.
The interior of the Cathedral of Quito is not finished, and as it was intended to be there, it will never be finished.
Because according to the legend, when it was first built, the completion date was the end of the world.