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PHOTOS: Beautiful churches around the world

12:41 PM, Dec 24, 2013   |    comments
  • Throughout the world, faith inspires beauty, as is the case with these 45 stunning churches and cathedrals. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The golden domes of St. Michaels Cathedral sparkle in the skyline of Kiev, Ukraine. The church, built in the Ukrainian baroque style, is famous for its interior mosaics and frescoes. Flickr/David Holt London
  • Taos, N.M., is famous for its traditional adobe architecture, with San Francisco de Asis Church standing out as one of the most beautiful and historic structures. Flickr/Larry Lamsa
  • It took over five centuries to complete the magnificent Gothic cathedral known as the Duomo in Milan. It's the fourth largest church in the world and has 135 marble spires and well over 3,000 statues lining the exterior. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • On the sophisticated and stylish island of Mykonos, the Church of Panagia Paraportiani harkens to an earlier time. Made up of multiple whitewashed chapels, the church remains one of the island's most photographed attractions. Getty Images/Hemera
  • One of the world's more unusual churches, the Chapel of the Holy Cross was built directly into the red rock buttes of Sedona, Ariz., so it seems to blend in with the natural surroundings. Brett Voorhees Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • It's only fitting that the Vatican -- abode of the Pope -- would have a basilica that outshines pretty much any other structure in Rome: Saint Peter's Basilica. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Perched on an island in the middle of Bled Lake in Slovenia, the Church of Assumption is only reachable by handmade wooden row boats. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg gets its name from its location on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. Despite its dark beginnings, the Russian-style cathedral has a rather whimsical and intricate façade. Flickr/J.Elliott
  • Chapel on the Rock near Estes Park, Colo., has an understated beauty that's as much about its harmony with the natural surroundings as the building itself. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • You don't typically associate the military with beautiful churches, but the Cadet Chapel at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is just that. Flickr/PhotosByDavid
  • The 150-foot tall Cadet Chapel all-faiths house of worship consists of 17 spires, with an interior lit by ribbons of stained glass windows. Flickr/Grant Montgomery
  • Another red-colored church, this one in Shipka, Bulgaria, the Memorial Temple of the Birth of Christ is a Bulgarian Orthodox church built from 1885 to 1902 and contains a 12-ton bell in its tower. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Built by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, Notre-Dame-du-Haut in France is popular with fans of post-modern architecture. Flickr/John Lord
  • Within the church, sunlight streams through multi-sized windows set into the thick walls and slanted to varying degrees, yielding an array of beautiful sun beams. Flickr/Rory Hyde
  • The triple nave Borgund Stave Church, the best preserved of Norway's 28 such churches, dates back to 1180 when it was built in honor of the Apostle Andrew. Flickr/xdmag Fullscreen The t
  • Built atop the tomb of Saint Peter, the basilica is the largest church in the world and a true stunner inside and out. Flickr/Mustafa AYDINOL
  • The soaring pillars and rainbow-hued stained glass windows of the Sagrada Família's interior are equally as impressive as the outer façade. Flickr/SBA73
  • Consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful places in Germany, Lake Königssee is the home of St. Bartholomä, a Catholic pilgrimage church first founded in 1134. Flickr/RC Designer
  • Fashioned after the Borgund Stave Church, the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Washington Island, Wis., looks especially beautiful during the fall season. Flickr/Leif and Evonne
  • The Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil's capital city, Brasilia, looks like a hyperboloid with its 16 concrete columns. Getty Images/Hemera
  • The interior of Brasilia's cathedral features angel sculptures ascending toward the colored-fiberglass ceiling. Flickr/Leandro Neumann Ciuffo
  • The church's interior is no less colorful, and many visitors come primarily to see the 80,000-some square feet of mosaics. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The neo-Gothic Las Laras Sanctuary sits perched on a bridge spanning a deep river gorge in southern Colombia -- one of South America's most dramatic churches. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The Lutheran Church of Hallgrimur, also known as Hallgrimskirkia, stands 244 feet tall, making it the tallest structure in Iceland. The expressionist structure is made from poured concrete and houses a 5,275-pipe organ. Flickr/Brian Gratwicke
  • Located in Moscow's Red Square, the brightly colored spires and onion domes of St. Basil's have become one of the city's -- and Russia's -- most iconic sights. iStock/Thinkstock
  • Likely the most photographed church in Vermont, the Stowe Community Church with its towering white spire has served as a multi-denominational church since it was built in 1818. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene sits at the base of the Mount of Olives near Gethsemane in Jerusalem, and is famous for its sparkling golden onion domes. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The six spires of the San Diego California Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appear to glow in the sun, thanks to its construction using pieces of marble set in stucco. It's even more beautiful at night when illuminated on all sides. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • One of Britain's finest medieval churches, Salisbury Cathedral is home to Britain's tallest spire and to the original copy of the Magna Carta. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Nuestra Señora de Gracia in Cuenca, Spain, has a Gothic interior, dating back to when construction began in 1196 on the former site of the city's main mosque before its reconquest. Flickr/Tomás Fano
  • St. Vinzenz Church in Heiligenblut sits at the foot of Austria's tallest peak, and while the church itself is pretty, it's the surrounding peaks and valleys of the Alps that really make this eye candy. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Overlooking Jackson Square in the French Quarter, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France has come to represent the city of New Orleans. It's also the oldest continuously operating Catholic church in the United States. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • If there's one church in Paris as iconic as Notre Dame, it's the hilltop Sacre-Coeur Basilica on the summit of Montmartre. The Romano-Byzantine structure was built from travertine stone that exudes calcite when it rains, keeping the church pearly white. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The Basilica of the National Vow in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, can be seen from nearly anywhere in the city, and the views from the twin clock towers of the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas are breathtaking. If you look closely, some of the gargoyles are shaped like Galápagos animals. Flickr/Chris Feser
  • Church of Dmitry on Blood in Uglich, Russia, stands out with its blood-red walls and sky-blue onion domes. Placed at the confluence of the Kamenny stream and the Volga River, the church was built on the site of the death of Prince Tsarevich Dmitry. Getty Images/Hemera
  • The 338-foot-tall Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow is the tallest Russian Orthodox church in the world and the object of great controversy. Originally built in 1839, the structure was blown up by the Soviets in 1931 to make way for a palace that would never be built. The building was resurrected at a cost of $360 million in 2000. Flickr/kishjar?
  • Built almost entirely of reflective glass, the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., literally sparkles. Sunlight streams through the glass to illuminate one of the world's largest organs, the 16,061-pipe Hazel Wright Memorial organ. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Saint-Michel d'Aiguilhe near Puy-en-Velay, France, looks like it's grown directly from the spire of volcanic rock on which it sits. To reach the church, you must climb up 268 steps carved into the rock. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The riverside Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame in Dinant, Belgium, was destroyed in both World War I and II, but the rebuilt version with its bulbous spire is postcard perfect. Flickr/Jiuguang Wang
  • Our Lady of Covadonga Cathedral in northwest Spain is notable for its slight pink coloration from the pink marble excavated from the surrounding mountains. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Of Norway's 28 remaining stave churches, Heddal Stave Church is the largest and dates back to the early 13th century. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Barcelona's and Antoni Gaudi's most iconic architectural work, La Sagrada Família, takes a surrealist spin on classic cathedral architecture. After 130 years, it's still under construction. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Most people visit Yosemite National Park for the majestic scenery, and some go to church while they're there. The Yosemite Valley Chapel is the oldest public use structure in the park and has been holding services since 1879. Flickr/Rennett Stowe
  • The Greek island of Santorini is dotted with white-washed, blue-domed churches, and they're all beautiful. Take your pick! Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • The spiral tower Chapel of Thanksgiving in Dallas isn't all that striking from the outside, but walk in, and you'll see the spiral Glory Window, one of the largest horizontally-installed works of stained glass in the world. Flickr/Alicia Lee
  • Inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal elevates the Gothic-revival architectural style to a stunning height. Flickr/nissanman2009
  • Lovers of stained glass will have to pick their jaws up off the floor upon ascending the stairs into the main chamber of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Besides being home to the oldest stained glass window in the city, the flamboyant Gothic gem has 6,458 square feet of stained glass. Flickr/gnosne
  • One of the greatest buildings in Vienna, a city of great buildings, is Karlskirche, or St. Charles Cathedral. The 18th-century Baroque church contains 13,454 square feet of stunning frescoes by Johannes Michael Rottmayr within. Hemera/Thinkstock
  • The UNESCO-listedpogost, or enclosure, of Kizhi in the Russian autonomous region of Karelia dates back to the 18th century and includes two wooden churches -- one with 22 wooden domes -- and a wooden clock tower. Getty Images/iStockphoto
  • Located in the Brazilian city of Canela, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes exhibits an English gothic style with a 213-foot-tall tower and a dozen bronze bells imported from a foundry in Italy. Flickr/Gian Cornachini
  • Brasilia's Santuario Dom Bosco looks boxy from the outside, but once you step through the doors, it's a sight to behold. The walls are made up of 7,500 pieces of Murano glass that when illuminated by the outside sun, cast the interior in a blue glow. Flickr/Torajiro Kuruma
    
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USA TODAY - Take a look at some beautiful churches around the globe.

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