Diversity of Church Architecture Around the World

June 4, 2012
Discover the great diversity of architectural styles in places of worship.


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While looking at the photorealistic paintings for Who Wants a Picture of Dirty Dishes?, I discovered that the Bored Panda website has a number of fascinating photos. That’s where I came across 50 Most Extraordinary Churches of the  World.

Church built into rock

I wished the collection had included more than Christian churches, for temples and mosques would expand out ideas for how we (at least meaning architects) think buildings of worship are meant to look. However, the variety of styles was absolutely amazing.

It was hard to choose one picture to illustrate this post, but I thought this very ancient church, built into a rock centuries ago, would do as well as some much more modern edifices. In our trip to France last September, we road down the Seine, rather than this canal, so didn’t see this. However, we did see several churches that were very impressive. [Read the paragraphs below the picture.]

According to the notation under this picture:

“This is the chapel of St-Gildas, which sits upon the bank of the Canal du Blavet in Brittany, France. Built like a stone barn into the base of a bare rocky cliff, this was once a holy place of the Druids. Gildas appears to have travelled widely throughout the Celtic world of Corwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. He arrived in Brittany in about AD 540 and is said to have preached Christianity to the people from a rough pulpit, now contained within the chapel.” [From Cruising French Waterways by Hugh McKnight p.150)

I wished the collection of churches would have included Joan of Arc Church in Rouen, France. What struck me as special about that church is that it was built after the Second World War in the tradition used in many old churches by giving the building the shape of an upturned boat.

For me, the best was the inside, where you could see stained glass windows that date from the Renaissance (1520-1530). They had been saved in 1944 from the bombing of the nearby ancient Saint Vincent’s church and buried in the ground. Now they create a pattern of scenes arranged in a way that feels feel as though they were meant for the 20th century.

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