VACATION IDEAS

Photos: 12 Stunning American Churches

From a Romanesque-Byzantine cathedral in New York to a modern wood-and-glass chapel on the Pacific coast in California, these elaborate churches will take your breath away.

  1. The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France in New Orleans overlooks Jackson Square and is the oldest continually used Catholic cathedral in the U.S.

    (Courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons)
  2. Luminaries from Andrew Jackson to Pope John Paul II have visited St. Louis Cathedral.

    (Courtesy Ewlarson3/Wikimedia Commons)
  3. St. Louis Cathedral is located right in the iconic French Quarter.

    (Courtesy SreeBot/Wikimedia Commons)
  4. Not even a devastating tornado could stop the determined Archbishops of St. Louis, Missouri, from raising the $1 million needed to construct the Byzantine and Romanesque style Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis in the early 1900s.

    (Courtesy Million Moments/Wikimedia Commons)
  5. From 1930 to 1988, a series of beautiful Byzantine-inspired mosaics depicting the life of St. Louis was added to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

    (Courtesy A. Balet/Wikimedia Commons)
  6. The block-long French Gothic Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is the second largest religious building in the world (second only to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City).

    (Courtesy Kripaks/Wikimedia Commons)
  7. The Episcopalian Cathedral Church of St John the Divine can hold 5,000 people in a space longer than two football fields and tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty.

    (Courtesy Eric Hunt/Wikimedia Commons)
  8. The Peace Fountain is found on the south side of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

    (Courtesy Gesalbte/Wikimedia Commons)
  9. The Shrine of the Nations at Minnesota's Cathedral of St. Paul was built to honor saints who are important to the ethnically diverse people that have helped make the church what it is today.

    (Courtesy The Cathedral of Saint Paul)
  10. In 2012, the Vatican declared that the Cathedral of St. Paul to have a "bond of spiritual affinity" with it's sister church, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.

    (Courtesy McGhiever/Wikimedia Commons)
  11. Located deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, the wood and glass Thorncrown Chapel was inspired by the gothic Sainte Chappelle in Paris.

    (Whit Slemmons)
  12. Thorncrown Chapel sits on top of 100 tons of local stones, allowing it to blend almost entirely into its natural surroundings.

    (Whit Slemmons)
  13. It took 83 years to build the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Construction began in 1907 and finally finshed in September of 1990.

    (Courtesy Mpk240/Wikimedia Commons)
  14. The Washington National Cathedral is 517 feet long and made of Indiana limestone. The flying buttresses weigh approximately 300 pounds each.

    (Courtesy Entheta/Wikimedia Commons)
  15. Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller are two of the 220 people interred in Washington National Cathedral, and it has been the site of 21 presidential funerals, from William McKinley in 1901 to Gerald Ford in 2007.

    (Courtesy Grendelkhan/Wikimedia Commons)
  16. The design of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, Florida, was inspired by Venetian Renaissance style and the church features a 150-foot tall copper dome with a 20-foot tall Greek Cross at the top.

    (Courtesy Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons)
  17. The the great Baptismal Font at Memorial Presbyterian Church was carved from a solid chunk of Siena marble.

    (Courtesy Memorial Presbyterian Church)
  18. Railroad magnate Henry Flagler built Memorial Presbyterian Church as a memorial to his daughter.

    (Courtesy Ebyabe/Wikimedia Commons)
  19. Wayfarers Chapel, about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, is the perfect combination of nature and architectural genius. It was designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright.

    (John Bordon/ Wayfarers Chapel)
  20. Wright also designed the surrounding Chapel Gardens, home to Redwood trees and roses that bloom all year round.

    (Courtesy Wayfarers Chapel)
  21. St. Mary's Catholic Church in High Hill, Texas, has 18 stained glass windows from Germany that were purchased by members of the community and donated to the church.

    (Courtesy marylea/Flickr)
  22. St. Mary's Catholic Church is one of 15 painted churches in the area that are on the National Registry of Historic Places, but this one is considered the Queen.

    (Courtesy marylea/Flickr)
  23. Grace Cathedral in San Francisco's Nob Hill has a look reminiscent of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

    (Courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri/Wikimedia Commons)
  24. The elaborate stained glass windows at Grace Cathedral were inspired by biblical stories—the Passion, Crucifixion, and the Beatitudes are depicted in the St. Matthew window and the story of Christ healing the paralyzed man is shown in the St. Mark window.

    (Courtesy Grace Cathedral)
  25. Located in Honolulu's historic district, the Cathedral of St. Andrew was commissioned by Queen Emma as a memorial to her husband, King Kamehameha IV.

    (Courtesy Xpixupload/Wikimedia Commons)
  26. Queen Emma herself later traveled to England to raise money and commission arches and limestone columns for the Cathedral of Saint Andrew (the rest of the stones were quarried in Western Oahu).

    (Courtesy Joel Bradshaw/Wikimedia Commons)
  27. Like most Italian Romanesque churches inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Chicago's St. Mary of the Angels was designed in the shape of a cross, with a large dome in the center and two bell towers at its sides.

    (Courtesy Zol87/Wikimedia Commons)
  28. Stained-glass windows inside St. Mary of the Angels depict the 12 Apostles, the Stations of the Cross, images of the saints and angels, and various other biblical scenes.

    (Courtesy JeremyA/Wikimedia Commons)

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