Favorite architectural style for churches

I really like the simplicity of the Mission style Churches here in the Southwest. Some here are still made from adobe, others are built like the Mission churches but of concrete brick.

Almost all have some paintings on the ceilings, have statuary of Saints and other ornate decorations inside. Some have stained glass windows, others do not, especially the older ones.

Now if I had to go with something else, I think I would choose something like Hagia Sophia (the church in Istanbul that the Turks have made into a museum). It also has a simplistic beauty of architecture with nice lines outside and beautiful mosaics inside. It is more along the lines of a Greek Orthodox Church.

Brenda V.

What’s with the low turnout for Gothic revival? In the U.S., anything “Gothic” ***is ***Gothic revival. I attend Mass during the week at a beautiful little church built in 1873 (by Episcopalians, that’s why it’s so cool). The architect was Pugin – who designed the Houses of Parliament in London. It’s a Catholic church now: St. Thomas More on 89th at Madison. What a little gem.

Seriously… the Basilica of the Sacred Heart here at Notre Dame is in the Gothic Revival style.


I just want to say “Howdy neighbor!” to Under the Dome who posted the photos of Sacred Heart basilica at Notre Dame. I was baptized there 55 years ago. It is truly breathtakingly beautiful!!

While we attend Mass at a different parish, we enjoy going to Sacred Heart for special occasions. The feast day of San Juan Diego is a good one. Very festive, with beautiful costumes and joyful mariachi music. Tenebrae is wonderful. So is the outdoor stations of the cross during Holy Week. The students lead several hundred participants throughout campus in a candlelight procession which stops at each station with a reading and reflection. At various locations, the Notre Dame choirs sing hymns. At the twelfth station, the basilica bell tolls long and low. At the fourteenth station, everyone enters the darkened basilica as the choir sings and all light is extinguished to signify the entombment.

Perhaps you’ve attended some of these events. Who knows? Maybe we sat next to each other… If you haven’t yet had the privilege, I urge you to mark your calendar for next year.

It is beautiful indeed. :yup:

I especially love celebrating Holy Week at the Basilica… showing up two hours early just to get a seat is a nice reminder of the penitential mood of the season!

Even the daily Masses there are awe-inspiring. I used to always go there on Sundays, though I transitioned to dorm Masses after a semester or two (better to worship in the community I live with, I suppose).

I didn’t think to mention it earlier, either, but I like the Spanish-mission architecture, too.


The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is very beautiful within and without by all accounts. What a good setting for the ICRSS ordinations that took place today :).

I love my new parish in the town I just moved, so before I vote, can someone tell me what it might be.

Hmm…from the flat front facade, it seems to be romanesque, at least on the outside.

Ok, here’s another stumper. :smiley: There was a church in my old diocese built in 1929. It’s shaped like the letter “V” with the altar at the apex and the pews down the arms–I’ve never seen anything like it–on the outside it is kind of Spanish mission style. :shrug:

Seems that Gothic is the favorite architectural style. I too like the thought of invoking images of the grandeur and beauty in stone of the middle ages.

Spanish Churches are my favorite. I really like retablos:



I love Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque, Renaissance and Gothic-revival. But I also love the old, small and simple churches.

Here are pics of some of my favorites in Paris. I’ll post my favorites in Austria in another post.

Sainte Eustache - Paris

Sainte Pierre-Sainte Louis - Paris

Notre Dame, of course - I never would have imagined the impact this Cathedral made for my husband and I when we walked through those doors and attended mass:
At night -
During the day -

Trinite Eglise - Excuse my shiny head! I believe this was Durufle’s church, but can’t remember for certain. I just remember the organist playing a Bach trio sonata like it was nothing after mass.

Sainte Ettienne-Dumont - My husband’s fave

Sainte Gervais - This was my favorite. The pics don’t do it justice. One of the most beautiful and spiritually uplifting masses I’ve ever attended here, although I wish they didn’t move the altar. This was Couperin’s church. Once again please excuse my big, shiny forehead. :eek:

I also liked Sainte Chapelle, but I don’t think mass is said there any longer.

Some beautiful churches in Austria. I unfortunately didn’t write the names of these churches while I was there. So stupid of me. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with my shiny head in any of these. :wink:



  1. I think this is the Collegium


  1. This was an older church:

  2. Here is the Cathedral in Salzburg

  3. I loved this very old church next to the Cathedral as well:

Wow!!! That is really beautiful!

This was a great thread as I learned a bit about architectural style. My favorites are Gothic and Baroque. The architecture of a church is so important to me in getting that sense of reverence.

When someone posted that they like the mission style in the southwest US I looked up one of my favorites, San Xavier del Bac in Tucson. How funny to learn that it is Baroque, a fact I didn’t know until now, again my ignorance of architecture coming through. :shrug:

As for the modern, all I can say is how tragic that it became such a trend. There’s a book out titled, “Ugly As Sin” that’s all about the modern style churches. I couldn’t bring myself to read it but I did flip through and look at the pictures. Blech! By the way, when did our churches become known as meeting spaces? I’ve heard that term used in some of the modern churches in my archdiocese and it makes me crazy. :banghead:


When I think of Mission Churches I think of those like this San Felipe de Neri in Albuquerque. You can see it at this website: city-data.com/picfilesc/picc16543.php

Or the Mission of San Juan de Capistrano in California. Sorry I couldn’t find any easily accessible pictures of this Mission.

Brenda V.

Not my fault… I voted for Gothic and Gothic revival.

The Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna) is a great Gothic church, and I think you can also tour the crypt for the graves of some interesting personages as well as mass graves from the years of the bubonic plague.

The Dom St. Jakob (St. James’ Cathedral, Innsbruck) is much more modest in size but is a nice looking Baroque church.
In fact, a very good number of the parish churches in Innsbruck (where I studied for a year) are good looking buildings. Not necessarily impressive, mind, even if they’re all nicer than the average American parish, but they all have historically Catholic architecture and dignified furnishings and ornamentation. On top of that, the cathedral clergy tickle my traditional fancy by sporting fiddleback chasubles - it was my first encounter with that Roman splendor. When I didn’t attend the Cathedral I often went here - Mariahilf images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.bildungsserver.at/innsbruck/dom/images/mariahilfkirche_ausen.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bildungsserver.at/innsbruck/stadtteile/mariahilf_01.htm&h=480&w=360&sz=26&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=RP47A6Jd7DwynM:&tbnh=129&tbnw=97&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpfarrkirche%2Bmariahilf,%2Binnsbruck%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den - and played in the band attached to the parish for some Masses.

Finally, staying within the Holy Roman Empire but not Austria, let’s not forget the Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria (Cologne cathedral): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne_Cathedral

Wow!!! Gorgeous!!! I never had chance to visit Innsbruck. I was studying music at the Mozarteum in Salzburg for a few weeks in the summer, but I only had one chance to go outside of the city to St. Gilkin (which was beautiful.) I wish I could have done a little more sight-seeing. I did get to see some of Munich, Germany for an afternoon the day before I flew back to the states.

Thanks for posting that Brenda. I’ll be in Albuquerque in 3 weeks and will have to visit this Mission church. As I’ll be driving from Colorado through New Mexico and Arizona on my way to San Diego, are there any other churches you’d recommend I visit along the way?



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