By far the most impressive thing I appreciated during our trip to Europe this year was the grandeur of Europe’s cathedrals. They really are amazing.
Two architectural styles dominate Europe’s grand churches. The medieval Gothic-style, features soaring buildings, with flying buttresses, and pointed towers, all directing thoughts and gazes heaven-ward. The more recent Baroque-style has more rounded towers. Still all of these buildings are massive, and they dominant every traditional European city we visited.
In Regensburg, our first port along the Danube River, St. Peter’s Cathedral soars above your head.
Inside, St. Peter’s is a bit darker than any of the other Gothic cathedrals visited, but the stained glass is simply breathtaking.
Contrast this with the Baroque exterior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau, Germany. I simply could not find a way to get the entire church within the frame of my phone’s camera!!
Inside of St. Stephen’s, you will find the world’s largest church organ in the world, existing outside of the United States. My wife and I were treated to a wonderful organ recital, that they have nearly everyday an 12 Noon.
Size can really be deceptive, too. When we were in Vienna, Austria, we visited another St. Stephen’s Cathedral, in the center of the city. What is pictured here is not the central nave, but rather a nave off to the right side of the church, looking towards the altar.
The artwork and attention to detail really astonished me. I could spend hours just exploring the art inside these churches. In the oldest church in Budapest, Hungary, The Inner-City Mother Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, I discovered this mural which had been buried behind earlier artwork, that has only recently been discovered. The earliest features of this church date back to the early Romanesque period, which predated the Gothic movement.
But to me, the most wonderful part of these churches are the stained glass. Here at the Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic, St. Vitus Cathedral greeted my camera/phone on a sunny afternoon. My phone’s camera simply did not do justice to what I saw with my own eyes.
On the other hand, there are plenty of smaller churches in Europe, that may not be as stunning, but that still inspire people with interesting architecture, particularly at night. Here is a rather interesting church, Chiesa Del Varó O Della Visitazione, in Taormina, Sicily. Taormina is perched up on a hill, but in this photo, you can see other dwellings further up the hillside, with even a cross lit up at very top, even if it is really small in the photo (if you click on the photo, you can see that cross).
It is terribly sad that so many of Europe’s churches are filled more with tourists today than with genuine worshippers of Jesus. But a visit to anyone of these churches can still be an inspiration for the believer to find a place where they can give glory to God.
This week, Christians all over the world celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. As I marvel at the beauty of so many wonderful cathedrals and churches in Europe, that I toured this year, it draws myself into a deeper sense of worship of Jesus, the Messiah who has come at Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all!