Christmas is a favorite season for many. However, those of the faith celebrate Christmas as a core religious holiday.
Even if you aren’t one for religious ceremonies, you have to admit that the sight of a cathedral in winter is breathtaking. Below are some of the most beautiful churches to visit during the holiday season.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine ● St. Augustine, FL
As St. Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the country, it may not be surprising that it’s home to Florida’s oldest church. This cathedral is an impressive downtown landmark that you shouldn’t miss.
This cathedral was constructed back in 1565 but quickly burned down when the city became sieged. However, it was restored in the 18th century, and it still looks good as new today.
The original site getting torched was a bit of a blessing in disguise. The original building was not very impressive; however, the king of Spain spared no expense in bringing the cathedral back.
The best feature about this cathedral is that it combines several different styles to give it its unique appearance. Elements of the neoclassical and Spanish mission styles are apparent throughout, and this building looks right at home among other historical neighbors.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist ● Savannah, GA
While all of these churches are fantastic to visit during the holiday season, the display inside of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is probably the best. Both Biblically accurate and festive, the nativity display is a charming addition.
Like the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, this cathedral, too, was constructed at the end of the 18th century. However, rather than a dense Spanish influence, the construction occurred with French Gothic architecture in mind.
This construction style is due to a massive influx of Haitians and French revolutionists fleeing their respective areas. They came to Savannah, where they built the cathedral.
It, too, suffered a significant fire but was also restored. Today, it’s among the most famous of Savannah’s historic landmarks.
The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine ● New York City, NY
Unlike traditional Roman Catholic cathedrals, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is a Russian Orthodox church. And like many New England buildings, this red brick exterior looks even more festive with a little snow outdoors.
While the outside of the building may look a bit bland, inside, you’ll find the sort of religious artwork you would expect from a cathedral. Along with Christian paintings, you’ll also see murals, a lovely chandelier, and impressive traditional ceilings.
It may not have your typical Christmas flair, but this cathedral is indeed worth a viewing. If you are already in the Central Park area, be sure to walk over.
Holy Virgin Cathedral ● San Diego, CA
Although New York City may be known as the nation’s melting pot, I would think that California is equally diverse. As such, the Holy Virgin Cathedral is another excellent representation of Russian Orthodox churches.
Outside, the architecture is stunning with its large golden tops (called “onion domes”), steep white walls, and painted features. This church is the second of this name; the original is a dedicated historical landmark.
As is the case with many California neighborhoods in the area, this cathedral is in a distinctly Russian-heavy area. While it may not snow in San Diego, you’ll at least feel like you transported to the far Eastern Bloc.
This church also has plenty of visitor’s rules, so be sure to be respectful. It must be tough giving a sermon in a popular destination.
The Cathedral of St. Patrick ● Midtown, Manhattan
The Cathedral of St. Patrick is probably closer to what you would picture a traditional church building to look. This Neo-Gothic Catholic cathedral has been featured in many movies and tv shows, and is nearly 400 feet tall!
It, too, was initially constructed in the early 1800s, which must have meant that there had to have been some architecture bug in the Holy Water. Either way, this classic New York landmark has been in operation for generations.
The cathedral is immediately recognizable by its steep spires outside. Indoors, you’ll find huge ceilings, traditional stained glass, and other classic features.
Both the interior and exterior are shades of white, giving it a pure “churchy” feel. Across the street, the statue of Atlas adds an extra layer of juxtaposition between mythologies that you may find especially photogenic.