Top 10 Holy Sites

World Travel Blog

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Ossuary

1.  Ossuary at Kutna Hora, Czech Republic- The Crypt Chapel is decorated with human bones: Religious symbols, lighting fixtures, etc. Creepy but strangely respectful.

2. The Vatican-  Yes St. Peter's is huge and full of Renaissance splendor, but the Sistine Chapel, even with all the gawkers, felt more holy to me than anywhere else in the Vatican. God's grace could only be responsible for the talent of such a great artist.

3.  Church of our Lady, Bruges, Belgium- Landmark church that you can see throughout Bruges due to its tall spire. Feels like a cathedral. The high point is a classic Michaelangelo marble sculpture of Mary with Jesus. It's understated and beautifully plaintive and gave me goosebumps when I saw it. It was the only Michaelangelo work to leave Italy in his lifetime.

Strasbourg Cathedral

4.  Basilique de Notre Dame, Montreal- Beautiful gothic Cathedral in the heart of the old town of Montreal. Wonderful wood carvings and a splendid evening light show that depicts the history of Catholicism in Quebec.

5.  The National Shrine of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore, Maryland- The Mother Cathedral of Catholicism in America and a symbol of religious freedom, this church has recently been restored to its former glory. Nice crypt chapel underneath.

6. Seville Cathedral, Seville, Spain- The third largest cathedral in the world does not disappoint, despite the well-meaning, but ill fitting gallery located inside. Christopher Columbus is entombed here and everything is guilded. Very lovely.

Pantheon
Along with the adjacent Alcazar, it makes for a very impressive centerpiece to the city.

7. The Pantheon, Rome, Italy- Although not its original purpose, it has served as a Catholic church, but that is not why it made this list. The miracle of it is its architectural genius. To be in a structure that inspired countless others, that has stood the test of time, while being surrounded by religious imagery really gives this place an otherworldy feel.

8. The Duomo, Florence, Italy- Truly a majestic building. Florence is a stunning city and this red domed centerpiece its crown jewel. The intricate details of its facade, its incredible dome, its place in history, and the scary view from its way to narrow observation area around the dome contribute to its well deserved iconic status in Italy.

The Duomo

9. Basilica de San Marco, Venice, Italy- Like all the main sights in Venice, this place is overrun by tourists. But again like the city, take some time to find the less discovered places and you can truly appreciate this beautiful building, which feels more Byzantine than Western. Go to the upstairs gallery for the best views of the Gold guilded ceilings which are still brilliant. Look out to iconic Piazza San Marco. Thankfully it seems most tourists do not like a few stairs!

10. Cathedral of Notre Dame, Strasbourg, France- This gorgeous gothic cathedral makes this list because my friend and I had the honor of singing in the wondrous church for an Advent service. I even got to solo! The whole experience gave me goosebumps and helped validate my belief in God.

The Vatican

*** I would be remiss not to mention St. Gertrude’s Church in Stockholm, Sweden. Also known as the German Church, its tower is a focal point of the magnificent Old Town. The inside is lovely, but the reason I must include it is that I befriended the Music Director of the parish who invited me into the top of the tower which is closed to the public (for good reason, very rickety stairs and quite terrifying) to watch him play the carillon which rang over the city. I even got to play some notes myself, thus leaving my mark on the city.

Honorable Mentions: San Vitale Byzantine mosaics, Ravenna Italy; The Duomo of Siena Italy; The shrine of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Spain, The stunning Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah Georgia; Dom Katedral, Cologne Germany; Stephansdom, Vienna Austria; Basilica de St. Anne de Beaupret, Quebec Canada; U.S. Naval Academy Chapel, Annapolis Maryland

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Ossuary
Ossuary
Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral
Pantheon
Pantheon
The Duomo
The Duomo
The Vatican
The Vatican
San Marco
San Marco
Michelangelo statue in Bruges
Michelangelo statue in Bruges
Baltimore Basilica
Baltimore Basilica
Montreal Cathedral
Montreal Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral