Stephen Travels

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Faith and Fun in Helsinki’s Finest Churches

Karuna Church, Helsinki, FinlandStrong incense emanating from censers in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. An organ concert in an iconic Lutheran cathedral. Utter silence in a modern chapel in a busy area of Helsinki. A wedding in a church built into a rock. A chorale by Finland’s most famous composer ringing from the bell tower of an Art Nouveau church. My experiences in the city’s churches continually surprised me, surpassing mere architecture, history, and religious tradition (although all of those abound in Helsinki’s houses or worship), and visiting them became one long series of unexpected delights. Read about the top five churches in Helsinki >


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The Churches of Pittsburgh: Very Diverse, All Beautiful

From the top of Mount Washington, I took in the fantastic view of the skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the best urban views in the United States. Connected to the land across the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers by its iconic yellow bridges, this pie-shaped section of the city rises heavenward with its shiny skyscrapers, which (unfortunately) effectively hide one of the city’s lower-rise assets: its gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Pittsburgh >


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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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A Baroque Masterpiece in the Center of Ljubljana, Slovenia

St. Nicholas Cathedral, Ljubljana, SloveniaThe city of Ljubljana seems to have been created for its residents and visitors to spend a lot of time outside. Whether you’re kayaking down the lazy Ljubljanica River, exploring lovely Prešeren Square and one of the top five bridges in the world, climbing the hill up to the castle, or romping around some fantastic parks, Ljubljana inevitably draws you outdoors for long stretches at a time. But the capital of Slovenia is also one of the wettest cities in Europe, which means you’ll be spending some time indoors as well. And one of the best places to do that is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, a truly spectacular Baroque house of worship in the heart of the city. Read more about it >


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Captivating Churches in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Basilica of Our Lady of Help, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaWhen Buenos Aires was the It city of the world in the 1920s and 1930s, Argentina had grown into one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Things have gotten much bumpier since then, but plenty of evidence of that golden era still exists, especially in the city’s famed architecture. Chief among them are the spectacular houses of worship — many in need of some repair yet managing to retain their exquisite grandeur, making them desirable destinations to visit. Read more about the top five churches in Buenos Aires >


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The Signature Churches of Buffalo, New York

St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Buffalo, New YorkRising on the shore of Lake Erie at the far end of western New York State, the city of Buffalo was once an urban powerhouse thanks to its strategic location. But hard times have hit New York’s second-largest city. Buffalo has suffered from the closure of its heavy industries, losing half of its peak population of 580,000 since 1950. Despite this ongoing struggle, it remains one of the most noteworthy cities in the United States for architecture, and its churches are some of the most beautiful in the country. Read more about the top five churches in Buffalo, New York >


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A-List Churches in Albany, New York

St. Joseph's Church, Albany, New YorkFor a smaller capital city, Albany, New York, teems with iconic structures: the unique state capitol, The Egg performing arts venue, and the sprawling old headquarters of the Delaware and Hudson Railway, now the administration building for the State University of New York. Chief among them are the city’s churches, eight of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Their congregations include Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterians, and United Methodists. They span a wide variety of architectural styles, and they all enjoy voluminous histories, making a visit to these venerable institutions a very rewarding experience. Read more about the top five churches in Albany >