The world’s spectacular houses of worship beckon both believers and non-believers. The majesty, architecture and sheer presence of these structures attract even the casual visitor. Each is a gem of art with a unique history. Some are grand and sweeping while others are more modest. Many have played key roles in world events. We often take comfort in the beauty of these magnificent edifices. Here are five that we find especially interesting.
Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia This remarkable Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1949. The beautiful Gothic Revival church is one of the major hallmarks of Columbia. The basilica church was built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. This architecturally impressive structure at first glance resembles a medieval castle. Some 17th and 18th century references note that a much smaller chapel originally stood in the sanctuary’s place. A larger church was constructed on the site with the help of donations from local churchgoers. The main tower of the sanctuary soars about 100m from the canyon’s bottom, and is connected to the mainland with a 50m tall bridge. Though the church is incredibly popular with local people, many international travelers never see this beautiful church. You can arrange a visit to this charming cathedral on one of our Colombia journeys.
Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours, Thrissur, India
The stunningly white Basilica of Our Lady of Delours is located in southern India and is the tallest church in Asia. Construction began in 1929 and was consecrated in 1940, yet the tallest of the towers was not completed until 2007 and was dubbed the Bible Tower. The basilica was built in an Indo-Gothic style with three large towers, the tallest of which is 260 feet high. The red cross atop the Bible Tower is lit at night and can be seen from miles away. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Dolours in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the seven sorrows of her life. You can incorporate a visit to Thrissur in our South India adventure.
St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, South Africa The Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr in Wale Street, central Cape Town, is the oldest Anglican cathedral in southern Africa. It is most famously known as the church of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In September, 1989, more than 30,000 people drawn from all the race and cultural groups of Cape Town join the archbishop in a mass protest march from St George’s Cathedral. If you visit, notice the stained glass windows that feature both a white Christ and a black Christ. Add this historic cathedral to your South Africa itinerary.
Goeme Underground Cave Churches, Cappadocia, Turkey
Hundreds of early 3rd and 4th century cathedrals were built by Christians among the 36 cave cities, where hundreds of thousands of people lived. Göreme became a monastic center in 300—1200 AD. The open air museum includes half a dozen ancient churches with rich paintings, and monasteries up in the canyons. This region of exceptional natural wonders, is especially known for its fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage. Cappadocia is truly a remarkable once-in-a-lifetime experience worth the trip. Discover Cappadocia on our Turkey & Morocco.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Beijing, China The original foundation of this cathedral was set in 1605, making it the oldest Catholic Church in Beijing. The current building in the Baroque style dates from 1904, and is the fourth church on the site. Earlier incarnations were alternately destroyed by earthquakes, fire and the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, which saw the destruction of all the churches of Beijng. The present structure was completed, the fourth church on the site. You can incorporate a visit to this church during our 11-day China journey.