Church bells remain fascinating forever. Perhaps if you are visiting a city that takes pride in its preserved architecture, churches are one of the feats of art that should not be missed. Some of the largest churches of historical value are found in the city of New York. New York is the cultural, traditional, and economic hub of not only the United States but, with some exceptions, the world. Being the center of the entertainment industry, and home to a culture spanning over centuries, it is one of the best tourist attractions.
These churches are a major adornment of this city. Christian or not, one can surely admire the architectural genius and grandeur of these buildings.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Location: 5th Ave, New York
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a church that was dreamt of by its founders to become the heart of the city of New York. It was constructed as a replacement of the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The doors were first opened for the masses in 1879. It was pledged to use the church to fulfil the needs of the growing population and to help preserve it as a monument of historical value for all times to come.
Talking about the architecture, the majestic church has 21 altars, each named after a different saint. Occupying a whole block on the fifth avenue, the cathedral stands in all its majesty with the bells and impressive gothic architecture. A large sculpture of the Pieta, beautiful interior and the spectacular rose window are a feat of craftsmanship that must be appreciated.
The 300 feet building is witness to around 150 matrimonial alliances every year and remains a place to visit with its exquisite stained glass panels and galleries with high rising pillars, and structures that are too grand to forget.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Location: 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street
Situated near Columbia University, it remains the largest standing church in the United States. Surprisingly, the cathedral is merely two-thirds of the originally proposed area of construction and yet remains the sixth largest church in the world!
Built over a span of many years, it was originally planned to reflect a cruciform appearance, with the four directions being identified. However, only the Western façade was completed. The gothic-style building consists of the western façade and the nave on the eastern end. The windows show sculptures, denoted to many activities from the past.
It has seven chapels, called the chapels of the tongues, donated, designed, and structured by different families and architects. It houses a multitude of paintings, pieces of art, sculptures, and is home to various concerts, exhibitions, and programs that are conducted there from time to time.
Christ Church, United Methodist
Location: 524 Park Avenue, 60th Street New York
Known today as the Christ Church, United Methodist, it began with an organization of the same name, which came into being to allow the representation of the increasing number of Christians. The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1882. It was constructed in the Romanesque style of architecture. Facing central park, situated on Madison Avenue, the church was known for its open bell tower that is 175 feet high.
The galleries surround it on all four sides. From the beginning, the church had all the activities in full swing. In view of increasing numbers of people, a new area was acquired on the Eastern side in 1929 to expand the church according to growing needs. The building now stands tall together with its massive neighbors. The work and adornment of the walls continued till after World War 2.
The building homes a chapel, parlors for men and women, a parish that comfortably seats 800 people.
Trinity Church, Wall Street
Location: 75 Broadway, New York
Constructed according to the Gothic Revival style of architecture, the Trinity Church is known as the resting place of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States. The church underwent an iteration of constructions. The courtyard remained patent throughout, hence it is older than the actual building of the church. The churches were built as first, second, and third Trinity churches, each bigger than its predecessors.
The third Trinity Church, consecrated in 1846, is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic revival architecture. The bells of the church are a spectacle. It boasts 23 bells, the largest of which weighs more than 2,700 pounds. The interior shows a beautiful high rising ceiling, with pillars and vaults in it. It is indeed one of the best places to see if you plan on visiting New York.
The church has, to its credit, provided refuge to the survivors of the 9/11 attacks. The burial ground also hosts several figures and remains one of the revered buildings in New York City.
The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew
Location: 520 Clinton Avenue New York
If you want to see a reflection of the Vatican City while residing in New York, you must visit this church built on the lines of the basilicas of Italy. Located in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, and built on the Romanesque style of architecture, it reflects the basilicas and cathedrals of Italian origin.
The building was first constructed as St. Luke’s Church, which later merged with St. Matthews in 1943 and several smaller ones to take form as of today. The construction of the current building began in the late 20th century. After destruction by a fire in 1913, it rose from the ashes to take its present form.
The Romanesque Revival style is evident in its exterior and interior and is often referred to as the greatest Ecclesiastical building in Brooklyn, New York.
Church of St. Mary The Virgin
Location: 145 West, 46th Street New York
Also known as “Smoky Mary” due to excessive use of incense, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin is located in the heart of Times Square. Being a Gothic-style building, it attracts tourists by its vaults and columns. The touches of gold and blue in the interior give the building a much coveted-for royal look. The ceiling gives the impression of a deep blue sky, splattered with gold.
It is an Episcopal Anglo-Catholic church – a part of the Episcopal Diocese of NYC. Today, it is celebrated for its organ music and vivid colors that make up its interior. Located in Manhattan between the 5th and 6th avenues, the daily mass and melodious organ music are worth attending in a service.
Judson Memorial Church
Location: 55 Washington Square, South New York
The old-world architecture of this building is not only a place for worship but also remains a center for cultural activities of all kind.
Along with the exotically painted glass windows and beautiful marble work, the building comes out in an Italian Renaissance theme. The Campanile tower stands high to the west of the church itself. The repainting and redesigning were done recently. The church is said to resemble the basilica of the Santa Maria Cathedral in Rome, Italy.
The church encourages art and provides space to artists and performers to exhibit their creations.
In 1957, the Judson Gallery provided and declared that artists could use it to exhibit and experiment with their art, without the fear of censorship. It allowed the then-unknown pop artists, Oldenburg, Jim Dine, and Robert Rauschenberg, to experiment without any constraint.
Moreover, it boasts a Judson dance theatre, and throughout the 1970s it provided an opportunity to the artists to exhibit. In addition to this, it carried out various art exhibitions. Hence, it became the center of art and artistic activities.
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church
Location: 157 Montague St, Brooklyn
A historical Episcopal church located in the neighborhood of Brooklyn is a beautiful building built originally for the Holy Trinity Churches. St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church has a fascinating history and architecture. It was closed in 1957, surrounded by controversy, and stood empty for 12 years before opening again in 1969. The church possesses the earliest figural stained glass windows, which were designed explicitly for the church.
The tall building has various floors with that parish located on the ground floor. The ceiling boasts the usual Gothic style vaulting. And the stained glass windows remain the major feature, with the paintings depicting various forms of art through time.
In addition to this, it continues to be a stage for classic and opera music and a center of artistic expression.
Church of St. Francis Xavier
Location: 46 W 16th St, New York
After being torn down in 1878 due to a fire in the church, this Roman Catholic Church was reconstructed in 1882.
Designed by an Irish-born architect, Patrick Charles Keely, the St. Francis Xavier Church parades a Roman basilica style exterior. The façade is a bluish-grey inviting work of granite. It features stained glass windows. The dome-shaped interior of beautiful gold and grey is an irresistible sight for the eye of any tourist. On the walls of the dome, stand tall statues of the Virgin Mary and other holy sculptures. The tall glass windows make it an excellent place for tourist eyes to feast on.
Église St-Jean-Baptiste New York
Location: 184 E 76th St, New York, United States
From humble beginnings, in a rented stable, the St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church, also known as the Église St-Jean-Baptiste, underwent a lot of expansion and rebuilding to become one of the most famous churches in the city. It is the only church in New York that has a dome. The beautiful design carved out of limestone is an extraordinary work of art. The spires of this Manhattan building rise to 150 feet above the ground.
It was started in 1882 to accommodate the French Canadian population it slowly expanded. An accident in 1989, which saw stones from the building falling into the avenue, led to its renovation and reconstruction.
The church celebrates mass three times a day, with a Sunday night vigil ever week. It is a Roman Catholic Church, which also oversees the running of a convent school for girls.
We hope you like this list of best churches in New York City. If you are visiting New York and want to view the beauty of some of the best churches there, don’t forget to add these in your go-to list.
Also, if you have some more time to spend experiencing the beauty, you will love seeing these 10 Most Famous Libraries of New York City.