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The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Petersburg, Russia. The 18th century cathedral is the final resting place of many members of the Russian royal family, including Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Source: yulenochekk / Adobe Stock

Sacred Marvels: 17 Cathedrals That Will Take Your Breath Away, In Pictures

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Cathedrals are some of the most awe-inspiring structures in the world, with their grandeur and intricate details captivating visitors for centuries. These religious buildings are often the most iconic landmarks of a city or region, featuring unique architectural styles and intricate works of art.  Cathedrals can be found all around the world, from the towering spires of the  Gothic cathedrals of Europe  to the colorful domes of the  Orthodox cathedrals in Eastern Europe  and beyond. Many of these cathedrals have played significant roles in the history of their respective regions and continue to be important cultural and religious centers today.

St. Basil's Cathedral is an iconic symbol of Moscow and one of the most famous landmarks of Russia. It was built in the 16th century under the reign of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of the city of Kazan. The cathedral is known for its colorful onion-shaped domes and intricate patterns, and is considered a masterpiece of Russian architecture. Source: Reidl / Adobe Stock.

St. Basil's Cathedral  is an iconic symbol of Moscow and one of the most famous landmarks of Russia. It was built in the 16th century under the reign of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of the city of Kazan. The cathedral is known for its colorful onion-shaped domes and intricate patterns, and is considered a masterpiece of Russian architecture. Source:  Reidl / Adobe Stock.

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is located in the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, and is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. The cathedral is believed to be the burial place of Saint James, one of the apostles of Jesus, and has been a place of pilgrimage for over a thousand years. The cathedral's impressive Romanesque architecture and its baroque façade make it a popular tourist destination in Spain. Source: Pabkov / Adobe Stock.

The Santiago de Compostela  Cathedral is located in the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, and is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. The cathedral is believed to be the burial place of Saint James, one of the apostles of Jesus, and has been a place of pilgrimage for over a thousand years. The cathedral's impressive Romanesque architecture and its baroque façade make it a popular tourist destination in Spain. Source:  Pabkov / Adobe Stock.

Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, is one of the most famous landmarks of Milan and one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete and features over 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and stunning stained-glass windows. The cathedral's roof also offers breathtaking views of the city of Milan. Source: Boris Stroujko / Adobe Stock

Milan Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Milano, is one of the most famous landmarks of Milan and one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete and features over 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and stunning stained-glass windows. The cathedral's roof also offers breathtaking views of the city of Milan. Source:  Boris Stroujko  / Adobe Stock

The Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is an underground Roman Catholic church located in the town of Zipaquira, Colombia, about an hour's drive from Bogota. The cathedral is built inside an abandoned salt mine, which was transformed into a religious sanctuary in the 1950s. The cathedral is a popular tourist attraction, known for its impressive architecture, including its cross-shaped layout, and the numerous salt sculptures that decorate its interior. Source: dvrcan / Adobe Stock

The Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is an underground Roman Catholic church located in the town of Zipaquira, Colombia, about an hour's drive from Bogota. The cathedral is built inside an abandoned salt mine, which was transformed into a religious sanctuary in the 1950s. The cathedral is a popular tourist attraction, known for its impressive architecture, including its cross-shaped layout, and the numerous salt sculptures that decorate its interior. Source:  dvrcan / Adobe Stock

Sainte Chapelle is a Gothic-style royal chapel located in the heart of Paris, France. It was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX and is known for its stunning stained-glass windows, which cover a total area of over 600 square meters. The chapel's lower-level features intricate murals and sculptures, while the upper level is reserved for the spectacular stained glass windows, which depict scenes from the Bible. Source: Circumnavigatio / Adobe Stock.

Sainte Chapelle is a Gothic-style royal chapel located in the heart of Paris, France. It was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX and is known for its stunning stained-glass windows, which cover a total area of over 600 square meters. The chapel's lower-level features intricate murals and sculptures, while the upper level is reserved for the spectacular stained glass windows, which depict scenes from the Bible. Source:  Circumnavigatio / Adobe Stock.

The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower is a cathedral located in the heart of Florence, Italy. The cathedral is famous for its iconic dome, which was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. The interior of the cathedral is also notable for its stunning frescoes, including the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari. Source: flowertiare / Adobe Stock.

The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower is a cathedral located in the heart of Florence, Italy. The cathedral is famous for its iconic dome, which was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. The interior of the cathedral is also notable for its stunning frescoes, including the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari. Source:  flowertiare / Adobe Stock.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most impressive and iconic landmarks of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. It was built in the early 20th century and named after the Russian prince and national hero Alexander Nevsky. The cathedral's neo-Byzantine architecture, intricate frescoes, and beautiful gold-plated domes make it a must-see attraction for visitors to Sofia. Source: Evgeni / Adobe Stock.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most impressive and iconic landmarks of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. It was built in the early 20th century and named after the Russian prince and national hero Alexander Nevsky. The cathedral's neo-Byzantine architecture, intricate frescoes, and beautiful gold-plated domes make it a must-see attraction for visitors to Sofia.  Source: Evgeni / Adobe Stock.

Notre Dame Cathedral is a historic Catholic cathedral located on the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. It was built in the 12th century and is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. The cathedral is known for its impressive rose windows, soaring ceilings, and intricate sculptures, and attracts millions of visitors every year. In April 2019, a devastating fire broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral, causing significant damage to its roof and spire, and prompting a major restoration effort that is still ongoing. Source: XtravaganT / Adobe Stock.

Notre Dame Cathedral  is a historic Catholic cathedral located on the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. It was built in the 12th century and is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. The cathedral is known for its impressive rose windows, soaring ceilings, and intricate sculptures, and attracts millions of visitors every year. In April 2019, a  devastating fire  broke out at Notre Dame Cathedral, causing significant damage to its roof and spire, and prompting a major restoration effort that is still ongoing. Source:  XtravaganT / Adobe Stock.

Saint Sophia Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant landmarks of Kiev, Ukraine. The cathedral was built in the 11th century and is renowned for its Byzantine architecture, including its stunning mosaics and frescoes. It was named in honor of the ancient Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and played a crucial role in the history of Kievan Rus. Source: Jo / Adobe Stock.

Saint Sophia Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant landmarks of Kiev, Ukraine. The cathedral was built in the 11th century and is renowned for its Byzantine architecture, including its stunning mosaics and frescoes. It was named in honor of the ancient Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and played a crucial role in the history of Kievan Rus. Source:  Jo / Adobe Stock.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a prominent landmark in Lyon, France, situated atop Fourvière Hill overlooking the city. The basilica was constructed in the late 19th century in a neo-Byzantine style and is known for its ornate design, including intricate mosaics, stained glass windows, and a beautiful golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Source: Lukas / Adobe Stock.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a prominent landmark in Lyon, France, situated atop Fourvière Hill overlooking the city. The basilica was constructed in the late 19th century in a neo-Byzantine style and is known for its ornate design, including intricate mosaics, stained glass windows, and a beautiful golden statue of the Virgin Mary. Source:  Lukas / Adobe Stock.

St. Stephen's Cathedral is a stunning Gothic-style cathedral located on Stephansplatz square in the heart of Vienna, Austria. The cathedral's construction began in the 12th century and continued for over 400 years, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles. The cathedral's towering spire, intricate carvings, and stunning stained-glass windows make it one of Vienna's most beloved and iconic landmarks. Source: Mistervlad / Adobe Stock.

St. Stephen's Cathedral is a stunning Gothic-style cathedral located on Stephansplatz square in the heart of Vienna, Austria. The cathedral's construction began in the 12th century and continued for over 400 years, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles. The cathedral's towering spire, intricate carvings, and stunning stained-glass windows make it one of Vienna's most beloved and iconic landmarks. Source:  Mistervlad / Adobe Stock.

Cologne Cathedral, also known as Kölner Dom, is a stunning Gothic-style cathedral located in the city of Cologne, Germany. The cathedral's construction began in the 13th century and took over 600 years to complete, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles. The cathedral is known for its impressive size, with two spires standing over 150 meters tall, as well as its stunning stained glass windows and intricate carvings. Source: Lukas / Adobe Stock.

Cologne Cathedral, also known as Kölner Dom, is a stunning Gothic-style cathedral located in the city of Cologne, Germany. The cathedral's construction began in the 13th century and took over 600 years to complete, resulting in a fascinating blend of architectural styles. The cathedral is known for its impressive size, with two spires standing over 150 meters tall, as well as its stunning stained glass windows and intricate carvings. Source:  Lukas / Adobe Stock.

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a stunning Gothic-style church located in the heart of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was constructed in the mid-19th century and is known for its impressive size, intricate carvings, and stunning stained-glass windows. Source: Kingsman / Adobe Stock.

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a stunning Gothic-style church located in the heart of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was constructed in the mid-19th century and is known for its impressive size, intricate carvings, and stunning stained-glass windows. Source:  Kingsman / Adobe Stock.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is a Catholic church located in the city of Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar, and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain. The cathedral's architecture is a mix of styles, including Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic, and is known for its impressive dome and stunning frescoes. Source: Juanmi / Adobe Stock.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is a Catholic church located in the city of Zaragoza, in northeastern Spain. The cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar, and is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain. The cathedral's architecture is a mix of styles, including Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic, and is known for its impressive dome and stunning frescoes. Source:  Juanmi / Adobe Stock.

St John's Co-Cathedral is a stunning Baroque-style cathedral located in the heart of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta in the 16th century and is known for its ornate interior, including intricate marble floors, gilded columns, and stunning frescoes. The cathedral is also home to several important works of art, including paintings by Caravaggio and other prominent Baroque artists. Source: Matyas Rehak / Adobe Stock.

St John's Co-Cathedral is a stunning Baroque-style cathedral located in the heart of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta in the 16th century and is known for its ornate interior, including intricate marble floors, gilded columns, and stunning frescoes. The cathedral is also home to several important works of art, including paintings by Caravaggio and other prominent Baroque artists. Source:  Matyas Rehak  / Adobe Stock.

The Sagrada Familia is a world-famous cathedral located in the city of Barcelona, Spain, and is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city. Designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, the cathedral's construction began in the late 19th century and is still ongoing. The cathedral is known for its unique architectural style, including its towering spires, intricate sculptures, and stunning stained-glass windows. Source: Valerie2000 / Adobe Stock.

The Sagrada Familia is a world-famous cathedral located in the city of Barcelona, Spain, and is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city. Designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, the cathedral's construction began in the late 19th century and is still ongoing. The cathedral is known for its unique architectural style, including its towering spires, intricate sculptures, and stunning stained-glass windows. Source:  Valerie2000 / Adobe Stock.

Cathedrals continue to inspire visitors with their beauty and spiritual significance, and many have become beloved landmarks of the cities and regions in which they are located. Despite the challenges of time and natural disasters, these architectural wonders have endured for centuries, serving as a testament to the  skill and creativity  of their builders. Whether you are admiring the soaring spires of a Gothic cathedral or the colorful mosaics of an Orthodox basilica, cathedrals offer a unique glimpse into the art, architecture, and religious traditions of cultures around the world.

Top image: The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, St. Petersburg, Russia. The 18th century cathedral is the final resting place of many members of the Russian royal family, including Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Source:  yulenochekk / Adobe Stock

By Joanna Gillan

 
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