Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Argentina’s Most Beautiful Churches

Cathedral of St. Francis, San Salvador de Jujuy, ArgentinaFour intranational flights in Argentina took me from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú to Salta to Mendoza and back to the capital. It was a whirlwind trip around the northern part of the country during which I hiked around one of the world’s top waterfalls and around the tallest mountain in the Americas, experienced both Latin and Native American cultures, ate llama cutlets and sucked on coca leaves to stave off altitude sickness, and roamed through some of the country’s best cities, filled with beautiful (and often crumbling) architecture, including fantastic houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Argentina >


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Denmark’s Five Best Churches

Holmen Church, Copenhagen, DenmarkWhen it comes to castles, Denmark is one of my favorite European nations, whether they’re watching over the coastline or dropped smack in the middle of the capital city. When it comes to churches, however, Denmark has some serious competition from its European neighbors. Despite that, this little nation of just under six million people has constructed some spectacular churches. Too bad only 3 percent of the population regularly attends services; they’re missing out on surrounding themselves with beauty. Read about the top five churches in Denmark >


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Croatia’s Choicest Churches

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Varazdin, CroatiaAs I traveled around this Balkan nation, I continuously noted domes and bell towers rising above their shorter neighbors. These telltale signs of religious buildings beckoned me, with their beautiful architecture and their centuries of history, art, legend, lore — and the occasional miracle or two. Read about the top five churches in Croatia >


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Crossing Paths With Swiss Crosses

Lausanne Cathedral, SwitzerlandAlthough freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Switzerland, enshrined in its constitution, the number of people employing that freedom continues to plummet. More than one-quarter of all Swiss have no religious affiliation (compared to a negligible 1 percent in 1970). Those who do, no matter what their denomination, have strayed from regularly attending services today. Yet they can still look back at what their more devout ancestors left behind—a legacy of beautiful churches that used to be the core of their societies. Read about the top five churches in Switzerland >


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The Eternally Beautiful Churches of Rome

Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles, RomeRome and religion are intrinsically intertwined. Completely surrounding the Catholic mini-state of the Vatican City, the Italian capital has been influenced by the church, and vice versa, for centuries. Italians still go pazzo for Il Papa, and a papal Mass in the Basilica of St. Peter is an unforgettable experience (at least, from what I’ve heard). Of course, getting into one takes a lot of doing, so most of us will have to be satisfied with just popping into a regular run-of-the-mill church that a pope may or may not have visited at some point. But in Rome, that means you inevitably step into a dazzling place that could stand on its own against most museums. Filled with long histories, incredible architecture, and art by some of Italy’s heavyweights, the churches of Rome — and there are many of them — rank among the most beautiful in the world. The first one I entered was so sublime that I needed no further motivation to visit every other one I came across. Read about the top five churches in Rome >


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Divinity in Providence

First Uniterian Church of ProvidenceI was attending a conference for editors in downtown Providence, and in between sessions I had ample opportunity to explore this historic American city. Settled in 1636 by Roger Williams, who named it in honor of “God’s merciful Providence,” the capital of Rhode Island has not always been under this divine protection. Through nearly four centuries of history, it has seen catastrophic floods, alarming crime rates, slavery, and cholera outbreaks. But it has also been an industrial powerhouse, one of the richest cities in the United States, the jewelry manufacturing capital of the world, an educational leader with such institutions as Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, and a beacon for religious tolerance, still acknowledged in street names like Benefit, Benevolent, and Hope. That religious tradition can also be seen in its dozens and dozens of churches. Read about the top five churches in Providence >


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Philadelphia’s Old Churches Always Offer Something New

Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaWith so many historic sites to see in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ranging from Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite to the massive food mecca inside Reading Terminal Market (one of the world’s best indoor markets) to the oldest residential street in the United States, it’s hard to pick which ones to head to when you have only three days in the city. My recommendation is to sprinkle visits to some beautiful churches into your itinerary; you’ll be rewarded with artistic beauty and some fascinating tales. Read about the top five churches in Philadelphia >


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Edinburgh’s Ecclesiastical Highlights

St. Paul's and St. George's Church, Edinburgh, ScotlandEdinburgh, Scotland, was built to last. I’ve never seen a sturdier-looking city, as if nothing could ever destroy it (even though the Vikings, English, and Germans have all tried). Woven into its architectural fabric, I found a tremendous collection of some of the most beautiful bank buildings in Scotland as well as many stunning churches. These houses of worship date back centuries, and many of their towers and spires still serve as both a call to worship and a helpful visual orientation to this city’s wonderful skyline, in both New Town and Old Town. Read about the top five churches in Edinburgh >


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The Five Most Beautiful Churches in London, England

St. Lawrence Jewry, London, EnglandMy first trip to London was back in 1997, when I was covering a conference about corporate image. Wisely, I added a few days onto that business trip for myself. Of course, that wasn’t enough time to explore one of the world’s greatest cities, even if I was trying to limit myself to, say, museums or markets or the theater. Although the tube is a terrifically convenient mode of transportation to reach so many sights, London was made for walking, the best way to experience England’s biggest and best city. Even on my more recent trip to the British capital, I never knew what I’d stumble upon, from rows of bookstores to a museum of clocks. History seems to abound on every street, kept visible by the city’s fantastic architecture, in particular its churches. Read about the top five churches in London >


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Visiting the Best Churches in Detroit, Michigan

Fort Street Presbyterian Church, Detroit, MichiganConsistently ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities known for their architecture, Detroit, Michigan, boasts a wide variety of fantastic structures: private mansions, corporate skyscrapers, legendary hotels and theaters, and spectacular churches. This latter group has been painfully decimated by retreating populations, but, although their congregations may have withered, their edifices remain stalwart evidence of the city’s admirable built environment. Read more about the top five churches in Detroit >