Church architecture often reflects the grandiosity of the higher power people gather to worship. In recent years, architects have sought out the most eye-catching designs possible.
But it’s not just about having a steeple and pews. Some houses of worship mimick shapes in nature, like the Leaf Chapel in Hokuto, Japan. And the the Neue Synagogue in Mainz, Germany, is shaped like the Hebrew word Kedushah, meaning blessing.
Experts at the international building database Emporis.com rounded up a selection of the world’s most spectacular churches based on modern architecture and design.
Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida is a Roman Catholic church in Brasilia, Brazil. Designed by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer, it consists of 16 concrete pillars.
Cathédrale de la Résurrection, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Évry, France, is unique for its rotund main sanctuary. Designed by Mario Botta Architetto, it is finished with brick and topped with 24 linden trees, meant to symbolise life.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic church built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona. Designed by Anshen + Allen, it's nicknamed 'Beverly Hills of the Rocks.'
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran Church that houses a large pipe organ in Reykjavík, Iceland. It's the tallest building in the Icelandic capital, and is meant to reflect the local landscape, including cliffs and glaciers.
Iglesia Parroquial en Rivas Vaciamadrid in Madrid, Spain, is notable for its unusual rust-coloured facade, a result of being clad in cor-10 steel.
Jubilee Church in Rome, Italy, has an unusual asymmetrical design. Designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, the curved shells are meant to evoke images like angel's wings or sails.
Leaf Chapel in Hokuto, Japan, has a retractable steel roof that can be opened in good weather for open-air services. The chapel, designed by Klein Dytham architecture, has two shells, one made of glass and one that is perforated with 4,700 holes.
Neue Synagogue in Mainz, Germany, is meant to look like the Hebrew word Kedushah, which means blessing. It was built between 2008 and 2010 at the location of the former main synagogue of Mainz.
Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran Church in Helsinki, Finland. The rock church was built into a granite face, and is also used for concerts.
The United States Air Force Cadet Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs, Col., is a highly regarded example of modernist architecture. It consists of 17 towers, each composed of 100 identical tetrahedrons. and has separate chapels for practitioners of various religions.
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