Technically speaking, a cathedral is defined as the principle church in a diocese, the church at which the throne of the bishop, or of the religious leader of the diocese is located. Cathedrals are designated in the Catholic and Anglican Churches. In addition, Orthodox Churches also have cathedrals, or similarly designated churches.
Designating a particular cathedral as “amazing” is a subjective endeavor. With that understood, there are some cathedrals located around the world that have garnered acclaim for their architecture, history, or both. There are 10 cathedrals that garner a good amount of attention and end up on lists of the 10 most amazing cathedrals on the planet with regularity.
#10 – St. John The Divine
New York, U.S.A.
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine is designated as the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is the Seat of the church’s Bishop.
The cathedral is classified as a house of prayer for all people, not just Episcopalians. The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid December 27, 1892, on St. John’s Day. The entire cathedral was consecrated in 1941, one week before Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II.
#9 – St. Sophia Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Sophia was built between 1045 and 1050. Made of stone, the cathedral has five domes. The cathedral is the oldest church in all of Russia at this time. Indeed, there are only two buildings of any kind that are older than St. Sophia in the country.
For three centuries, from the 12th to the 15th century, the cathedral was the ceremonial and spiritual center of the Novgorod Republic, which is now a part of Russia. The cathedral is also the city’s major necropolis, with many religious, civic, and royal figures buried at St. Sophia
#8 – Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Under the Queen herself, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Church of England.
Canterbury Cathedral has been a place of worship for over 1,400 years. In addition to being a principle place of religious activity in the United Kingdom, indeed in all of the world, the cathedral is also a repository for historical artifacts, texts of all types, and a wide array of different historic collections.
#7 – Santa Maria Del Fiore
Santa Maria Del Fiore is the third largest church in the world. St. Peter’s Basilica in the heart of the Vatican is the largest and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is the second largest. When the cathedral was completed in the 15th century, it was the largest church in Europe.
The construction of the cathedral took about two centuries. The first stone of the façade was laid in September 1296.
#4 – Rouen Cathedral
Rouen Cathedral is considered an ideal example of Gothic architectural tradition. The cathedral is loved in Rouen, Normandy, France.
There has been a church at this location since the 4th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Christendom. Early in the existence of what evolved into the cathedral of today, additions were made to the cathedral, including by St. Ouen in 650. Charlemagne visited the cathedral in
#3 – Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia has had many interesting incarnations. Early construction on the Hagia Sophia started in 537. From that date until 1453 it was a Christian church or cathedral. In 1453, the Hagia Sophia was converted into an Islamic mosque, as part of the Ottoman Empire.
The Hagia Sophia remained a mosque until 1931. In 1935, the Hagia Sophia was converted one more time to date into a museum.
#2 – Notre Dame de Paris
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is broadly considered to be one of the premiere examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. Notre Dame de Paris is one of the best known, and largest, churches in the world.
The first church at the location was built in the 4th century. In 1160, the church at the site was declared a cathedral, and ultimately became the beautiful, massive structure the world sees today.
#1 – St. Paul’s
Located in the heart of London, St. Paul’s is the second largest church in the world, only St. Peter’s Basilica being larger. St. Paul’s traces its beginnings to 604. Originally a Roman Catholic cathedral, after the reformation, St. Paul’s became a cathedral in the Church of England.
Many people outside the United Kingdom think of St. Paul’s as the site of royal weddings. This is because Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer were married at St. Paul’s. In fact, the most recent wedding before Charles and Diana was in November 1501. The eldest son of Henry VII, Prince Arthur, married Catherine of Aragon.