Europe is full of thousands of incredible churches and cathedrals, each with its own unique story behind it. No two are the same, with Europe having seen the development of different religions and therefore, the development of different kinds of architecture. What does remain a constant is just how breath taking they are. We don’t think we would ever get sick of exploring all the churches and cathedrals across the continent! Since Europe is so vast, we’ve narrowed it down to 7 beautiful churches and cathedrals to visit along the Danube.
Salzburg Cathedral, Salzburg
The Salzburg Cathedral is found in the Altstadt (Old Town) in the heart of the pristine city. With two soaring towers topped with mint green domes, it’s hard to miss! Even though it’s been through a series of rebuilds since it was first built in 744, the cathedral still retains some of its classic history. For example, an old working oven is housed in the north tower that is still used for baking communion bread today.
Fun fact: it was here that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptised on 28 January 1756, at just one day old.
St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna
As the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna, it comes as no surprise that St Stephen’s Cathedral is so revered. Its current iteration is built on the ruins of two previous churches, made even more famous for its stunning, coloured tiles that adorn its rooftop.
Fun fact: the main entrance is named the Giant’s Door. It is said to be named after either the shape of the door, or in a nod to the thighbone of a mammoth that was unearthed in 1443 while digging the foundations for the north tower and then hung above the door.
St Vitus Church, Český Krumlov
Not to be confused with the St Vitus Church in neighbouring Prague, Český Krumlov’s is the towering landmark sitting pretty above the quaint town. Český Krumlov has a strong musical background, so the Church of St Vitus offers a charming setting for the occasional classical music concert. Don’t miss looking at the small building next to the church while you’re there. Formerly a parish school, it was converted to a music school in 1780.
Fun fact: the church houses an organ dating back to the 1500s however is currently under repair. We hope it can be restored to its full glory!
St Martin’s Cathedral, Bratislava
Once Bratislava was given the right to become its own town in 1291, the townspeople rebuilt St Martin’s Church to become part of the city walls with its tower used as a defensive lookout. Between 1563 – 1830, St Martin’s Cathedral was famously the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary. 11 kings and queens had their coronations here, including Maria Theresa of Austria.
Fun fact: in 1760, the top of the tower was struck by lightning so had to be replaced.
Benedictine Abbey, Melk
Even though the town of Melk is small, it boasts the magnificent Benedictine Abbey. While the church interior is beautiful, its location alongside the Wachau Valley means the view from the church’s terrace is second to none. What makes the complex even more special is its library, with the main hall home to 16,000 volumes and an intricate ceiling fresco.
Fun fact: Melk’s Abbey has a monastic school which opened in the 12th century, making it the oldest continuously operating school in Austria.
Church of Our Lady, Nuremberg
Wander through the cobblestone streets of Nuremberg and you’re bound to come across the main market square with the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady. Take your gaze upwards and you’ll spot its mechanical clock that dates back to 1506! It depicts the Holy Roman Emperor, with trumpeters, drummers and prince-electors coming to surround him when the clock strikes midday.
Fun fact: the Church of Our Lady sits on the site of a Jewish synagogue which was sadly destroyed in 1349.
St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest
Named for the first king of Hungary, St Stephen’s Basilica is a must-visit when in Budapest. Ascend its cupola for an inspiring panorama across the city’s rooftops, or if you’re a music buff, experience its incredible acoustics by attending one of the weekly organ concerts. It is one of the largest churches in Hungary with enough seating for 8,500 people!
Fun fact: it took more than 5 decades to build the basilica with several delays across the years, including the dome collapsing.
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