Churches have served as spiritual centers as far back as the 3rd century. Then as now, churches provide a meeting place for people to worship, to contemplate, to pray. Over the centuries, people have built churches as testimonials to a higher power, and because of this, churches often are the most remarkable architectural structures on the landscape.
Aesthetics vary from country to country, and there is no question that beauty is indeed in the “eye of the beholder”. Still, there are some churches so unusual, and so striking that they transcend cultural differences. Here is a list of 15 that might be considered to be among the most beautiful churches in the world. You may not be a follower of the faith, but you will probably agree that these buildings are exceptional.
1) Las Lajas Sanctuary, Columbia
This breathtaking basilica cathedral rises some 100m (300ft) from the floor of the canyon of the Guaitara River. Spanning the canyon walls is a 50m (160ft) bridge which gives the church a majestic quality. The site for the Sanctuary is based on a local legend of the Virgin Mary appearing to a mother and daughter, originating in the mid 1750’s. The pair were caught in a horrible storm, and shielded themselves from the weather in the large canyon rocks (Lajas). According to legend, a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared, and remains on the Laja to this day. A memorial built in honor of the miraculous event served as the basis for the present Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas. The Sanctuary retains a Gothic Revival style, with construction occurring from 1916 – 1949. It is difficult not to be in awe of this architectural achievement.