Churches can be found scattered throughout the United States. People don’t necessarily have to be religious to appreciate this type of building. Some are decades and even centuries old with finely crafted architecture, masterfully created stain glass windows and beauty beyond comparison. The cathedrals of Europe are in a realm of their own, but the U.S. does have some churches and cathedrals worth seeing. Tours are offered in some, and they can be a place of peace, tranquility, and awe. Consider visiting one of these beautiful creations on your next travels.
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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Missouri offers a unique cathedral on U.S. soil. Tours of the massive creation are available to guests, but it is recommended that they call ahead of time to make sure no special events are going on, or visitation will not be permitted. Guided tours are available by appointment only. The cathedral is a complete and stunning work of art, with one of the most extensive mosaic collections in the western hemisphere. There the first reaction when viewing the cathedral is to look up. The ceilings soar above, complete with intricate paintings among the enormous arches and ceiling domes. The All Saints Chapel has white pillars and altar splashed with fantastic mosaic patterns across the floor and with paintings on the walls. Hours could be spent looking at the variety of colors and patterns in the cathedral. Do not miss the Baldacchino, which is the large structure over the main altar. It is hard to miss and appears as a building within a building. The hinge structure complete with dome top and a white marble figure of Christ adorns the amazing creation. Many people are stunned by the beauty and detail of this cathedral, and it is well worth the trip.
The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine
This cathedral rests in the great city of New York and is the second largest religious building in the world, with the first being St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty and has a space bigger than two football fields. It has a visitor center, gift shop and daily tours for guests. The “Highlights” tour hits the popular points of the cathedral while the “Vertical” tour gives a more behind-the-scenes experience as guests can climb up through spiral staircases to the top. It has a castle-like look and feels to it, and you can almost imagine a king sitting on the throne surrounded by masterfully crafted architecture and stone. Explore the lovely 11-acre grounds and visit the famous Peace Fountain outside. The fountain is a 40-foot-high sculpture that demonstrates the conflict between good and evil. Step into what feels like another world in this massive cathedral and be sure to stay with the tour group as it would be easy to get lost.
Cathedral of Saint Paul
Located in Minnesota, the Cathedral of Saint Paul was constructed starting in 1907. It is the highest point in Saint Paul, Minnesota, providing a beautiful architecture dream to the skyline of the city. Tours are held during the weekday at 1 p.m. every afternoon. The Building is one large dome with additions onto it, making the central hall spectacular with soaring ceilings and a beautiful altar. The stonework and the altar details are beautiful, and photography is encouraged. The winter months provide a white blanket of snow for a wonderful sight. Walk through the quiet cathedral and gaze up at the incredible arches and massive domed ceiling complete with perfect details. This cathedral and especially its Shrine of Nations was built to honor the saints that make the church what it is today.
Chapels tend to be much smaller than cathedrals, but this particular chapel has won awards for its architecture and has had over 6 million people visiting it. Located in the state of Arkansas, the chapel can be found in a woodland setting, surrounded by trees, hills, and nature. The building itself does not have significant amounts of floor space but instead rises 48 feet in the air, but that isn’t what makes it special. The building is almost see-through, composed of wood, 425 windows and 6,000 square feet of glass. The floors are stone, and bright blue pews adorn the hall, but the rest of the building is glass framed by wood. Visiting the remarkable creation is free to all guests. Visitors can marvel at the architecture and enjoy the view out all the windows as all they can see are the trees of the forest up and down the hillside. The daytime views are fantastic, but the night views give the chapel a whole and beautiful new appearance.
Washington National Cathedral
Located in Washington DC, this cathedral is stunning and elegant. The building has separate towers, commonly seen in cathedrals like the Notre Dame. The mellow color of the limestone of which the structure is created out of gives a calm and lovely appearance and feeling to the place. Over 200 people have been interred within the Washington National, including Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller. 21 presidential funerals have been held here too, including Gerald Ford and William McKinley. There are many tours offered like the Specialty tours, the Tour and Tea, Daily Tours, Music Demonstrations tour, exhibit viewing and a Spiritual Reflections tour, among many others. The main area has huge stone archways that are incredible, not to mention the stained glass windows above the main altar area. The ceiling patterns remind people of fireworks, and the detail and sheer size of everything are sure to shock and impress. Gargoyles decorate the outside, and there is a special tour people can take to see a large variety of them around the cathedral.
Buildings with History
The marvelous buildings were created to help people, not knowing that many would come to see the churches for their beauty alone. Many of these have been around for decades, even centuries and still stand to this day, welcoming all that enter their glorious doors. Photographers could spend forever in the massive churches, capturing endless pictures of countless details. The stone formations, mosaic patterns, and bursts of color, stain glass windows displaying people or scenes and the sheer size of some of the buildings make visiting an incredible and humbling experience. Tours are provided to give the history of the church and also to let guests explore the halls, stairs, and towers. Enter one of these gorgeous churches and forever be changed by the beauty of them.