Among New York City’s gorgeous skyscrapers comes historical and stunning churches that have withstood the architectural test of time. While not only contributing to the great religious culture of the city, these breath-taking landmarks exude timeless beauty and spiritual significance that can be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. From high ceilings to stained glass windows, here are a few NYC churches you should absolutely check out!
1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
This Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church sits right in the heart of Fifth Avenue, which may look out of place from the surrounding shops…but that’s what makes it beautiful! Dating all the way back to 1879, St. Patrick’s Cathedral has become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, thanks to the exterior soaring spires, pointed arches, and intricate detailing that reflects the style of medieval European cathedrals. The interior is just as stunning too, with tons of stain glassed windows and an ornate altar.
Where: 5th Ave (btwn 50th and 51st Sts)
2. Trinity Church Wall Street
You can find Trinity Church in the Financial District downtown across from Wall Street! The Episcopal church dates all the way back to the 1600s and features a neo-Gothic design with a surrounding peaceful churchyard. The adjacent cemetery even serves as a resting place for many notable figures from American history, including Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers.
Where: 89 Broadway
3. The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral is one of the oldest Roman Catholic cathedrals in the United States, dating back to 1815. It was designed by architect Joseph-François Mangin, with a focus on blends of Neo-Classical and Greek Revival styles. Its exterior features two large Ionic columns, a triangular pediment, and a central dome with a copper statue of a cross-bearing cockerel on top, which has become an iconic symbol of the church.
Meanwhile the interior boasts marble altars, intricate woodwork, and beautiful stained glass windows. What’s also cool about this church is that they do candlelight tours of the catacombs that are usually off-limits! Visitors can explore spooky regions of the institution that tell even more of a tale of its surroundings.
Where: 263 Mulberry St
4. Grace Church
Founded in 1808, Grace Church in Greenwich Village is one of the oldest churches in Manhattan. When architect James Renwick Jr. completed it in 1846, his vision of Gothic Revival style came to life, featuring pointed arches, soaring spires, and intricate stone carvings. A facade adorned with stone sculptures of angels and religious figures gives the feeling of medieval Europe, with its interior stained glass windows and ornate woodwork serving as eye-pleasers.
Where: 800–804 Broadway (Corner of E 10th St)
5. Riverside Church
This prominent interdenominational church in Morningside Heights is not only gorgeous thanks to the Neo-Gothic architecture, but also prominent thanks to their commitment to social justice. The intricate stone carvings and prominent central tower are the main eye-catchers here, but the obvious Romanesque and Byzantine influences are quite noticeable as well.
Where: 490 Riverside Dr
6. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
This Episcopal cathedral in Morningside Heights is the sixth largest in the world, with architectural elements ranging from Gothic to Romanesque to Byzantine. Not only does it look incredible from the outside, the cathedral’s soaring arches, stone carvings, flying buttresses, and central nave (adorned with magnificent stained glass windows for nearly 600 feet) are something to behold.
Where: 1047 Amsterdam Ave
7. Marble Collegiate Church
This institution founded in 1628 is one of the oldest Protestant churches in North America! As you can imagine from its name, its most notable feature is the marble tablets that make up its exterior, but the interior red walls and pews make it just as beautiful.
Where: 1 W 29th St
8. St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue
Designed by noted architect Ralph Adams Cram, this church was completed in 1914 and showcases a mix of French High Gothic and English Perpendicular Gothic styles. Its renowned two striking towers on either side of the facade and intricate woodwork are just some of the features on display, but we quite like the stained glass windows crafted by renowned studios like Tiffany Studios and others.
Where: 1 W 53rd St
9. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
This beautiful congregation is a double-height-over-basement stone structure with a rectory that sits right near Central Park. It was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight by in the 1860s and features many Neo-Gothic features like a breath-taking facade, bell tower, spires, and more. It’s one of the oldest Lutheran congregations in the area!
Where: 3 W 65th St
10. Cathedral Basilica of St. James
The Cathedral Basilica of St. James is one of the oldest and most prominent Catholic churches in Brooklyn. It was built in 1903 and designed by George H. Streeton in the Neo-Georgian style. It’s so beautiful it was designated a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1982 for its architectural and religious importance.
Where: 250 Cathedral Pl, Brooklyn
11. Church of St. Francis Xavier
The Church of St. Francis Xavier is a Roman Catholic parish in the Jesuit tradition. Focusing on interfaith dialogue, they give daily mass. The chance to see the domes and arches alone are well worth the visit.
Where: 46 W 16th St
12. St. Jean Baptiste Church
Another example of Roman Catholicism’s presence in NYC, this church on the Upper East Side was built with French-speaking Catholics in mind. Construction began in 1841 after a large congregation of French-speaking inhabitants were looking for a place to worship. The Neo-Gothic design is headlined by intricate stone detailing, statues of saints, and a rose window on the outside…as well as a magnificent altar and prominent crucifix on the inside.
Where: 184 E 76th St