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10 American Religious Landmarks You Have to Visit

Wed, Mar. 01, 2017 Posted: 11:35 AM


We know there are many sacred places to visit around the world, but have you ever thought about looking a little closer to home? The USA has some truly wonderful religious landmarks to visit, from the towering churches in California to the unusual chapels in Arkansas. Here are ten American religious landmarks you have to visit…

1. Trinity Church, New York City (NY)

Trinity Church stands in Wall Street with neo-gothic buttresses, stained glass windows and awe-inspiring vaulted ceilings and, until the invention of the skyscraper, Trinity Church’s 280-foot spire was the highest structure in the city. Thankfully, Trinity Church survived 9/11, and the little damage it sustained now plays central role in the church’s remembrance of the tragic event. There is a small museum at the back of the church to explore, and the churchyard is a lovely place to sit quietly on a summer’s afternoon.

2. Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs (AR)

Have you ever wanted to pray among nature? Well, Thorncrown Chapel is the perfect place to do exactly that: this little chapel nestled into the Ozark hills is constructed from glass and offers beautiful views of the surrounding Arkansas woods. The chapel has won numerous architectural awards and is known for being one of the most beautiful and inspiring chapels in the world, so it’s not a place you’ll ever forget. Make the most of over 6,000 feet of glass - it’s a place to sit quietly and contemplate God among nature.

3. St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans (LA)

The oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States is located in New Orleans. St Louis Cathedral is one of New Orleans’s most memorable landmarks, overlooking Jackson Square and lined with beautiful gardens. Arrive in time for mass to experience an instant feeling of peace and serenity, and pause afterwards to really appreciate the beauty of the architecture too. There are murals to view inside too, as well as a beautiful altar, so do consider staying overnight in New Orleans so you can really enjoy every inch of the Cathedral at length as part of a stat in the Big Easy.

4. Holy Hill Basilica, Hubertus (WI)

Holy Hill in Milwaukee is a registered national landmark, attracting huge numbers of pilgrims every year. It’s been a site of pilgrimage since the 19th century, and nowadays more than 300,000 people visit the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians at Holy Hill every year. People have been healed making petitions here, and there are many opportunities for visitors to celebrate mass and take part in the liturgical celebrations and retreats.

5. Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove (CA)

Worlds apart from the Holy Hill Basilica is the Crystal Cathedral in California. This magnificent piece of architecture is, in effect, a skyscraper designed in four-pointed star shape with exact east-west alignment. The congregation consist of more than 10,000 members, thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of Reverend Robert Schuller, and it’s well worth timing your visit for Easter or Christmas to take part in the holiday performances. Remarkably, the building itself is earthquake proof and eco-friendly, designed with staggered windows, highly reflective glass panels and two 90-foot doors that open during morning services to allow for a gentle breeze.

6. Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City (UT)

If you’ve never seen Salt Lake Temple before, brace yourself for the incredible impact it has on visitors who stand at the foot of its walls. The quartz monzonite structure took forty years to build, and it’s the most iconic Mormon temple in the world. It’s a peaceful and uplifting place to visit, and Temple Square is the perfect place for families to spend a little quality time together.

7. St Luke’s Church, Smithfield (VA)

St Luke’s is the oldest Episcopal church in Virginia, and is the oldest standing building of English origin in the United States. The brick construction was built in 1632 in a gothic style, and is now maintained by a non-profit organization that maintains the history and spirituality of the church and grounds. Despite being a tourist attraction, the tour guides are very knowledgeable, and both the guides and the visitors respect the spirituality of the church – the serene and somber atmosphere is maintained throughout and makes for a very peaceful place to contemplate.

8. Memorial Presbyterian Church, St Augustine (FL)

Nestled in historic St Augustine, Memorial Presbyterian Church is Florida’s first Presbyterian congregation. It was established in 1824, was dedicated in memory of Henry Morrison Flagler’s daughter in 1890. It’s still an active congregation today, and the church invites visitors to enjoy a tour by one of their trained docents during the week before returning on Sunday to join the congregation for worship.

9. Blessed Virgin Mary, Baltimore (MD)

America’s first cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has been blessed by Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II. So, it stands to reason you should pay it a visit if you can. It’s one of America’s most historic houses of worship and, as well as attending mass, you can take part in an uplifting concert or an informative lecture. The Pope John Paul II prayer garden is a beautiful area of green space (one of the few areas of green space in downtown Baltimore), and it’s open to visitors as well as the cathedral itself.

10. Idaho Temple, Idaho Falls (ID)

Idaho Temple stands on the banks of the Snake River and serves as a beautiful centerpiece to the city: it was the first temple designed with a central spire – something that was inspired by a vision of an ancient temple that architect John Fetzer saw while praying for guidance. The Idaho Temple is the 8th operating temple, and is currently being renovated. Nonetheless, consider paying it a visit this year; if you like, a tour host will escort you through the temple when it re-opens after being rededicated on Sunday June 4, 2017.

Will you be visiting any of these religious landmarks this year?

David Fournier