In every country across the world, spiritual and sacred places have been the destination of travel for countless years. Churches, cathedrals, and other places of worship tend to be among the most visited, and for good reason. These sacred sites can amaze and awe visitors with their immaculate structure, beautifully intricate designs, and history. And, while Europe is home to many of the architectural styles of great churches, you do not have to leave America to set your eyes upon many glorious and breathtaking churches.
New York, NY
Since 1697, Trinity Church has been in this location, yet the current building was the third on the site, finished in 1846. The Trinity Church was recognized by the Royal Charter of England and was the first Anglican church in Manhattan. The Church is built in Gothic Revival style and its churchyards contain three different burial grounds containing numerous notable people such as Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton. There is a small museum that features a short history on the church and how it has played a part within the city of New York.
107 Main St.
The Old Ship Church was built in 1681 and was modeled after the Elizabethan Gothic homes of Hingham, England, where the settlers originally lived. The church served as a place of worship, as well as a meeting place for the community to discuss issues such is the Revolution and democracy. The name, "Old Ship" is believed to come from the odd shape of the roof, which is similar in shape to the hull of a ship. A few renovations have taken place through the years, but in 1930, a restoration took place to bring back the original characteristics. What is truly remarkable is that The Old Ship Church is still used to today for worship and community events, proving that this is a truly timeless piece of American history.
210 Massachusetts Ave
Located in Boston Massachusetts, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, is a magnificent Romanesque Revival and Rennanaisance structure. The original church building was constructed in 1894 and includes an Italian marble floor, mosaic work, and stained glass portraying bible stories. In 1906, a large addition was made to the church that boasts a magnificent dome and seating for more than 3,000 people, as well as one of the world's largest pipe organs. You can tour the church for free on your own or with a group and will only take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
775 Mission St
San Miguel, CA
The San Miguel Mission was founded in 1797 and is a National Historical Landmark. The San Miguel Mission is one of the few missions still holding many original paintings and murals. In fact, the inside of the church has never been repainted. Upon arrival, you can enter through the front gates and view a selection of relics and statues. You can then explore the main altar area featuring "The All Seeing Eye." While surveying the grounds, you will notice the beautiful brick bell tower that used to call the residents to work, church, and other occasions. This adobe structure offers visitors a chance to learn about a rich cultural heritage that is unique to California and the western portion of the United States.
132 Odell Clark Pl
New York, NY
Abyssinian Baptist Church has been a symbol of hope and activism throughout New York City and the world for more than 200 years. In 1808, a small group of African Americans refused to accept segregated seating in the First Baptist Church of New York City and left to start the Abyssinian Baptist Church in lower Manhattan. Throughout the first 100 years, the congregation bought a few different properties and, in 1920, finally settled on the location where the church is today. The Gothic-style church was finished in 1923 and contains imported European stained glass windows and an Italian marble pulpit. The church has always pushed for the equality of all people and many famous activists have preached and discussed within its interior, including the great Martin Luther King, Jr.
405 S. Washington St.
In 1682, the land for this meetinghouse was purchased and in 1684, the buildings were finished. That same year, the first worship was held at the Third Haven Meeting House, known as, quite possibly, the oldest meetinghouse for the Religious Society of Friends. The founder of the Quakers worshipped here in 1673 and later sent books to the location, which led to the beginning of the Meeting's Library and the oldest public library in Talbot country. Another notable Quaker, William Penn, also worshiped here.
409 Cathedral St.
The Baltimore Basilica was founded in 1806 and is one of America's finest pieces of architecture, as well as the first great cathedral built in America after the signing of the Constitution. The Basilica, or America's First Cathedral, has been a symbol of religious freedom in America for more than 200 years and, being newly renovated, is a beautiful sight featuring a massive dome, 24 skylights, and an overall classic European style. Lectures, concerts, and other cultural activities are held at the Basilica as well as guided tours every day of the week. Visitors may also choose to explore the church on their own.
Photo courtesy of Chuck Durfor, Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation
1368 Colonial Pkwy
Located in Virginia, Jamestown Church was built shortly after the British colonists traveled to the New World and is one of the oldest structures in America, with the original foundations dating back to 1617 and the brick church dating back to 1639. It was at this historic location where the first representative government of what would become the United States of America met. However, in the 1700s, the church was abandoned and began to decay and in 1907 a reconstruction church was built next to the original tower. Today, the foundations of the 1617 church and the 1639 church may be viewed under glass at the reconstructed church. This historic landmark is an important piece of American history, and is definitely worth a visit.
3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Located in Washington D.C., the Washington National Cathedral invites people of all religions and faiths to pray, mourn, and contemplate current social issues. The Cathedral is immense, beautiful, and full of individuality. The structure took 83 years to build and weighs 150,000 tons and stretches 30 stories into the sky. On the south aisle within the Space Window, is a piece of lunar rock and you can even find a sculpture of Darth Vader on top of the church's west tower. Throughout the years, this Cathedral has seen presidential funerals, prayer services, and memorials and it continues to be an important part of the nation's capitol.
New York, NY
St. Patrick's Cathedral is possibly the most famous church in America and definitely the most famous in New York City. The enormous church spires stretch to the sky and the Neo-Gothic structure stands out beautifully amidst the office buildings of 5th Avenue. St. Patrick's was constructed in the mid 19th century and was funded primarily by poor immigrants who were seeking to lay a foundation in a country supportive of religious freedom. You may tour this grand structure free of charge and group tours and walk-in tours are provided.
Have you visited any of these historical churches? What is the coolest church or cathedral you have ever seen? Tell us in the comments, and don't forget to like and share with your friends!