If you’ve ever wondered exactly what the difference between a church and a cathedral is, then you’re about to find out. Simply, a church is a place of worship for Christians whilst a cathedral has a cathedra (seat) for a bishop. Cathedrals are also more common in bigger cities due to the sheer grandeur of them.
Even if visitors aren’t religious, cathedrals are frequented in many tourist destinations due to their remarkable stature and beautiful stained glass scenes. Whether you’re religious or not, standing in front of a cathedral is a moving experience that can be truly unforgettable and in Europe, there are so many dazzling cathedrals with their doors wide open to visitors!
Here are some of the loveliest ones in Europe that are must-sees on your next holiday.
St Paul’s Cathedral, London
As a feature piece of the iconic London skyline, St Paul’s deserves all the hype it gets. Having been destroyed 4 times, including when the Great Fire of London struck, this domed vision is one of the greats. The UK has many gorgeous cathedrals such as Canterbury, Durham and Westminster (not the Abbey!) to name just a few.
St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
St Giles Cathedral is a nice bit of peace in the busy but wonderful city of Edinburgh. Located in the middle of the High Street, St Giles, otherwise known as The High Kirk was often visited by John Knox, a leading father of the Scottish Reformation.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
This Antoni Gaudi masterpiece is world famous for its unique architectural style. The Basilica is one of the world’s longest-running architectural projects and, though it was started in 1882, it is unlikely to be finished before 2026. The construction time is testament to the grand scope of Gaudi’s architectural vision.
St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna
This stunning building takes center stage in the beautiful city of Vienna. St Stephen’s is famous for its remarkable mosaic roof and angular aspect which towers above the iconic Vienna skyline. After exploring inside the cathedral, head to the bar at the Hotel Royal opposite to get a fantastic look at the building in all its glory.
St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
This colourful treat is one of the most memorable in our list. As a symbol of Russia, this piece of incredible architecture is associated with many wild stories - Ivan The Great supposedly blinded the architect to stop him from designing anything more extraordinary than stunning St Basil's.
Duomo di Milano, Milan
We love Milan Cathedral because it's one of the few on this list you can really explore. Book a tour and you’ll get to climb up onto the roof to see some amazing sights across the city. The cathedral has more statues than any other of its kind in the world, so make sure you have your camera at the ready to snap as many of them as you can!
Notre Dame, Paris
The tragic fire of Notre Dame will be remembered for generations but this cathedral is still as brilliant as ever. Though temporarily closed, the majestic gothic architecture can be gazed at from outside.
If you’d like to check out some of these beautiful cathedrals, why not create a custom itinerary using our online Adventure Planner!