Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Kraków’s Divine Churches

Church of the Transfiguration, Krakow, PolandKraków, like most other major cities in Poland, has lived through a tumultuous history. From glory days as the nation’s capital to a widespread conflagration that burned it to the ground, from being shunted aside under the Austrian Empire to resurgent pride when its most famous resident, Karol Wojtyla, became Pope John Paul II, from intense air pollution from Soviet-built steelworks to its role as the country’s leading tourist destination, Kraków is a survivor. And, for centuries, its sturdy citizens have steadily found courage and hope in the city’s gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Kraków, Poland >


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In a City of Skyscrapers, Churches Still Grace Manhattan

Church of the Incarnation, New York, New YorkMore than 100 churches of most denominations pop up all over the island of Manhattan in New York City. Over the course of my life, I had been to only about five of them. That just seemed wrong, especially because some have been permanently closed, and it’s probably only a matter of time before these remarkable structures with their architectural marvels are razed. The time seemed ripe to become a traveler in my hometown, so I made it a mission to see as many as possible before they disappear. My quest proved to be an incredibly rewarding journey. Read about the top five churches in Manhattan >


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Amsterdam’s Most Beautiful Churches

Vondel Church, Amsterdam, NetherlandsThe canal houses tend to get all the attention in Amsterdam, and with good reason. It’s impossible to resist the charms of these slender homes that line, sometimes a little drunkenly, the calm canals lacing through the city. But the capital of the Netherlands boasts some pretty impressive buildings of a much larger scale, such as its Royal Palace, one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, and one of the world’s top five post office buildings (which now operates as a shopping mall). Many of the city’s gorgeous houses of worship are of substantial size, too, and their spires and domes can be spotted rising above the canal houses all over town. Read about the top five churches in Amsterdam >


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The Best Artistic Depictions of Palm Sunday

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New YorkThis coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, a key date in the Christian calendar when millions of Christians around the world commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem — a fateful day that launches Holy Week. Depicted in art for centuries, Palm Sunday is an unmistakable scene, whether it’s been rendered on a canvas or, as in most of the ones that really impressed me, stained glass. Read more about the top five Palm Sundays >


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Key West’s Key Buildings

San Carlos Institute, Key WestKey West, Florida, is quite literally the end of the road, the final stop along the Overseas Highway, one of the world’s top 10 drives. The richest city in Florida and one of the richest in the United States in 1889, despite its isolation, Key West’s glory days didn’t last very long: It declared bankruptcy in the 1930s. During that short time span, however, the city thrived on its tobacco factories and shipwreck salvage industry, creating handsome structures while wisely maintaining a low-rise profile better suited to survive the annual threat of hurricanes. Read about the top five buildings in Key West >


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Miracles in Québec

Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, QuebecCancer. Malignant tumors. Nonfunctioning limbs. Chronic cardiac conditions. The human body can trap us within ourselves for years, even decades, whenever it decides to malfunction or sustains an attack. When the situation appears hopeless, and medicines and treatments fail, we often start to look for a little extra help outside hospital wards. For half a million people every year, that assistance comes in the form of a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Québec. And when the impossible happens, and they’re cured of the incurable, they come back to say thanks. Read more >


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Missouri’s Mosaic Marvel

Cathedral Basilica, St. Louis, MissouriThe Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is much more than just the seat of the city’s archdiocese. It’s the home of the world’s largest collection of mosaic tiles — 41.5 million tiles, to be exact, in more than 7,000 colors that cover a total area of 83,000 square feet. From the second you step inside, you’ll be dazzled by the masterful work created by 20 artists over the course of 75 years. Read more >