Also known as the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, Saint Basil's Cathedral is considered to be one of the most unique accomplishments of Russian architecture. Originally built between 1555 and 1561 under the tsar Ivan the Terrible, the building today adorns the Red Square in Moscow.
The church stands out because of its unique onion-shaped domes and almost fairytale-like appearance. Interestingly, the exterior of the building was originally painted white with golden domes. However, in the 17th century, more eccentric color schemes were included in the cathedral, which eventually became an intrinsic part of its charm.
In 1990, Saint Basil's cathedral was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral De Reims (Reims Cathedral), Reims, France
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims is a masterpiece of Gothic art from the 13th century. It is bedecked with over 2,300 statues and is the only cathedral to display angels with open wings, including the famous Smiling Angel (also known as the Smile of Reims). The unique reverse side of the façade and the kings' gallery with its majestic statues are a few of the other standout features of the cathedral.
The cathedral has undergone many necessary restorations over the years, but it still mostly demonstrates 13th-century architectural techniques.
3. Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil
Constructed in the city of Brasília in Brazil, the Metropolitan Cathedral is a modernist concrete building that was built from 1958 to 1970. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and engineered by Joaquim Cardozo, this huge cathedral can hold almost 4,000 worshippers, who get a clear look at the skies above (courtesy of its glass roof). The cathedral's crown-like hyperboloid structure is its chief allure and makes it appear very different from the other cathedrals of the world.
16 curved concrete columns weighing 90 tons each dominate the cathedral’s exterior. Other notable highlights of the structure include its altar, which was donated by Pope Paul VI, and the four bells in its bell tower that were donated by Spain.
4. St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England
St Paul’s Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece that has been standing tall for more than 300 years. The site has been a place of Christian worship for more than 1,400 years, but after the Great Fire of London in 1666, where 80% of the city was burnt, the medieval gothic structure that was Old St. Paul's was also destroyed. The architect Sir Christopher Wren was then given the responsibility to replace the old church. Work began in 1669 and continued until the 1720s.
The magnificent dome is one of the most influential buildings in London. It is regarded as a symbol of endurance and pride for the city. Those who are fortunate enough to view Wren’s masterpiece from the inside describe it as a truly celestial experience.
5. Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, England
Considered to be one of the grandest cathedrals in England, the Winchester Cathedral also has a unique history. In 645 AD, the Norman period of British history, a Christian church known as "Old Minster" was built on this site.
Over the next 350 years, it became the most important church in Anglo-Saxon England. In the 11th century, the Old Minster was demolished, and its stones were used for the new cathedral. Even today, the Norman roots can be seen in the present cathedral, namely its huge, round-arched crypt and transepts.
6. Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC, USA
Built in the early 20th century in neo-gothic style, the Washington National Cathedral’s glorious façade resembles the Notre Dame de Paris. Construction of the building began in 1907, and it was completed 83 years later, in 1990. The structure, carved from Indiana limestone, consists of a 30-story-tall central tower along with 215 stained glass windows.
Over the years, the cathedral hosted the funerals of four presidents. There’s also a crypt level inside where Helen Keller was buried. The exterior of the church boasts 112 gargoyles and other carved stone creatures that weigh several hundred pounds. These stone carvings, meant to protect the Cathedral from dark forces according to tradition, also serve as waterspouts, diverting rain away from its walls.
7. Notre Dame De Paris (Notre-Dame Cathedral), Paris
Located right along the picturesque River Seine in Paris, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is considered the best and most famous Catholic cathedral in the world. Construction of the famous structure began in the late 10th century, but the final touches took another 200 years to complete. Once you observe the architectural details of the cathedral from up close, you will understand why it took so long for the construction to finish.
The front entrance of the Notre-Dame Cathedral is adorned with beautifully carved statues, while the back end is equally spectacular, featuring an ornate flying buttress. The sky-high gilded ceilings and stained-glass windows will greet you on the inside and you can even climb the cathedral’s 387 steps for stunning views of the city.
In 2019, the Notre-Dame Cathedral sustained significant damage as a result of a fire. The ceiling and spire collapsed, but, thankfully, the façade and the towers of the gothic medieval structure were saved. The cathedral is now being rebuilt and the world eagerly awaits for the iconic landmark of Paris to be back in its full glory.
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