In terms of traveling, churches are not only places of worship for Christians, but also popular tourist attractions and landmarks representing the city’s history and cultural diversity. I believe that the “most beautiful” churches do not actually exist in light of
This is my list of ten amazing churches I was able to shoot during the previous 12 years of my travels. Anyhow, the figures on the list are simply numbers and have no bearing on best or most beautiful.
These churches are amazing in their own way and each of them is unique in its design. Some of these pictures were taken during photography workshops I gave, while others are personal images.
This list contains big cathedrals or basilicas with beautiful architectures, but also little churches with an interesting history behind it. I tried to cover many countries (France, Austria, UK, Hungary etc.), but without doubt the majority of the shots come from Italy – my favorite country for travelling!
10. Basilica di San Salvatore (Tuscany, Italy)
The Basilica di San Salvatore is probably one of the most amazing hilltop village you can visit in Tuscany if not in all Europe! The entrance to the church is actually free, but you have to pay for the visit inside. Nonetheless, it’s worth visiting and photographing this place because of its amazing architecture and landscape around.
The church of San Salvatore is located in the ancient village of Arcidosso, at 634 meters high.
Arcidosso is technically part of the mountain area of Mount Amiata (1,746 meters) and it dates back to pre-Roman times! The village had an important strategic position on top of a hill. It was protected by walls which include three towers that were built between 1200 and 1300 AD.
What makes this place so beautiful are its red roofs, narrow cobblestone alleys and quaint little stone houses with pretty flower pots on their windowsills. This place looks like out of a fairy tale! The views from here are breath taking well – when I was there
9. Basilica di San Pietro (Ischia, Italy)
No doubt, Ischia island has so many great places to see and photograph! But if someone asks me which one I like most, my answer would be “Basilica di San Pietro”.
For sure there are so many other beautiful spots in the city such as Sant’Angelo Castle or Villa Arbusto , but I think that this basilica is simply stunning with its unique design. Definitely a must-see if you ever happen to visit the island with its great volcanic landscapes.
Basilica di San Pietro is located in the center of Ischia Porto, which is often referred to as Ischia Ponte (Ischia Bridge). It’s an amazing spot with spectacular views!
Basilica di San Pietro was built in 1700 and it has a circular shaped church yard. One spiral stairway leads to the top of church, where you can enjoy breathtaking views over Ischia island. Inside there are two small chapels dedicated to St. Roche and St. Cristina.
Basilica di San Pietro looks very different than other churches I have seen so far, but what makes this place so special for me is obviously its location – right above the sea!
8. Hallgrímskirkja (Rejkyavik, Iceland)
Iceland is a popular travel destination these days and I can’t wait to visit this country for photographing one of the most amazing churches in the world – Hallgrimskirkja !
Located on top of a hill in Reykjavik, this church is probably one of Iceland’s best attractions and a must-visit if you ever come to this country. It has an amazing architecture with nice proportions and beautiful colors!
Don’t forget about visiting the tower where you get some beautiful views over the city!
Hallgrímskirkja is the largest church in Iceland and its construction was finished in 1986. It’s 74 meters (243 ft) tall and it’s one of the most visited landmarks in Reykjavik.
The tower has an observation deck on the top, which can be reached by elevator; however, if you want to go all the way up – there is a tight spiral staircase with 422 steps!
This church has amazing bright colors that look impressive against bright blue skies. Inside this church you will also find some beautiful wall paintings created by local artists.
7. Hohenzollern Castle (Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany)
The Hohenzollern Castle is one of the most beautiful castles located deep down in the south of germany. First built in 1840s, the castle was completely destroyed during World War II and then reconstructed between 1949 and 1956. It’s an interesting place to visit because it offers some great views over Swabian Alps!
The castle has many unique structures you can check out – for example, there are two sarcophagus containing first Hohenzollern family.
I mentioned this castle because I love its unique appearance and the way it looks on top of a mountain. It has so many different towers and it’s absolutely stunning when you see the castle from some distance.
All of these elements make Hohenzollern Castle one of my favorite places to photograph in Germany!
Another great thing about this castle is that you can find there an amazing museum with more than 3,000 antiques such as weapons, jousting armor and more – all related to Swabian nobility!
It’s a great place for photographers and especially during the blue hour! I was here in winter and it was soo cold, not to mention that there was lots of fog but this didn’t stop me from walking around and exploring every corner of Hohenzollern castle! It’s definitely an amazing historic site worth visiting.
6. St Stephen’s Basilica (Vienna, Austria)
The St Stephen’s Cathedral is the most recognizable landmark in Vienna city center! Located on top of a hill it dominates above all other buildings and is a great place to shoot.
Even though the church itself offers some awesome views, the main attraction around the cathedral are so many interesting statues and sculptures created by all kinds of artists.
But there is more to see than just this amazing building and sculptures – take your time and explore other attractions in Vienna such as Hofburg or Belvedere Palace .
This is not just one of my favorite churches – it’s definitely one of the most impressive and beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen! It’s so big and looks so royal, you can feel its greatness as soon as you arrive here.
And even if the weather is bad and you cannot enjoy great views from above – there are many interesting things to explore inside this cathedral. But what makes St Stephen church special for me?
Well, because I like ornaments and this church has lots of them! From different stained-glass windows to huge columns – everything looks amazing in this building.
5. Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe (Poitou-Charentes, France)
Another beautiful gothic architecture located deep down in south-west France! The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe sits on top of a small hill surrounded with cedar trees.
It’s an awesome spot for landscape photography during the whole year, but if you come in spring or summer, I highly recommend visiting the Abbey’s lavender fields!
Most of the times, you will see only a part of this amazing church – I’m talking about bell towers which rise high above roofs and houses.
You can easily find it as it looks so impressive among small houses! It’s such a beautiful site to visit not just because of those two massive church towers but also thanks to its location in the center of small village.
4. Sagrada Família (Barcelona, Spain)
The most famous church in Europe – Sagrada familia in Barcelona city center! One of the most significant works by Antoni Gaudí.
Although currently unfinished , it is an amazing example for deconstructivist architecture. There are many beautiful structures to see inside this beautiful building, so make sure to check them out while you are there.
If you want to capture some really nice shots with this cathedral, try coming here at sunrise when the natural lighting is best for taking pictures. It will be crowded though!
This is a very special place, not only because it’s one of the main attractions in Barcelona but also thanks to its design by Gaudi himself.
When I was there for the first time, I couldn’t believe how long this church is! If you want to see all the details inside Sagrada Familia make sure you visit upper levels (stairs or elevators) as it’s much more interesting up there where you can see everything like planned by Antoni Gaudi.
The nave and high ceilings are hard to describe with words – therefore I leave “photo-realistic” pictures below which will show you how amazing this place is!
3. Prambanan (Java, Indonesia)
Prambanan is a Hindu temple compound located in Central Java . According to the Javanese beliefs it was built in 9th century and dedicated to Shiva and his wife Durga.
It’s one of the largest temples in Southeast Asia and an intriguing cultural attraction! There are many beautiful statues and decorations carved into the walls of this temple which seem to be fascinating for both adults and children.
And not just people would love these beautiful carvings – even you as a photographer will enjoy so many different compositions with various shapes & forms surrounding you!
The temple is located in Yogyakarta region which has stunning landscapes with rice paddies and colorful sunrises.
If you visit this place in the morning, then it must be right after or before heavy rains – when the whole landscape is filled with fresh green colors.
This is one of my favorite locations for sunrise photography – especially if you are coming from nearby Mount Merapi volcano where I recommend to climb during night time to watch amazing sunrise over beautiful volcanoes!
2. Blue Mosque (Istanbul, Turkey)
The Sultan Ahmet mosque , also known as “Blue mosque” is one of the most interesting mosques in the world. Located right next to Hagia Sophia , this mosque looks spectacular during sunset when you are able to capture some nice colors on the sky! If you are lucky, you can maybe see some storks on top of some towers 🙂 This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Istanbul!
In the same time I really recommend you to visit nearby Basilica Cistern as well which is a massive underground cistern with many huge columns!
This place looks amazing during sunset as there are some nice colors on top of those columns and also reflections on dark waters.
You can see one of the photographs from this area below. It was taken during golden hour, so it’s a bit darker than usual but I think you’ll enjoy this one nevertheless 🙂
During winter months, the Blue Mosque offers an interesting view over Istanbul skyline .
If you happen to be here at sunrise or even before dawn, then you will have great opportunity to capture some interesting photos with Milky Way in between minarets or maybe even auroras if you are coming to this location during winter months.
1. Notre-Dame de Paris (Île-de-France, France)
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris city center is probably one of Europe’s most iconic landmarks! Of course, I had to put it as No. 1 on my list because this beautiful building has an amazing gothic architecture and its unique structure dominates above all other buildings nearby!
It was scheduled for renovation beginning in 2019 because it has been neglected by the current French government, but after a fire destroyed part of the roof and collapsed the spire, I’m not sure if this work will be continued as quickly as planned.
There are many more places to see around Europe (Stade, Guernsey etc)- I tried to mention some of them specifically but still left plenty unexplored.
If you have time just search for interesting architecture around your city or region and start photographing! In my opinion especially gothic cathedrals can provide great subjects for landscape photographers 🙂
And here’s a map with all locations mentioned above:
So those were 10 fascinating spots from all over Europe where you can take awesome pictures! Let me know about your favorite European landscapes, buildings or monuments that you like to photograph in the comments below.
I would love to see some of your photos from these locations if they are worth sharing. Thank you for stopping by and good luck with your next photo adventure!
1 thought on “Top 10 Churches Must To Visit”
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