Whether you’ve a deep fascination with or even just a passing interest in religious buildings, they’ll often be featured as key sites to be visited on your shore excursion to a number of the cities on your itinerary. Located in the heart of the places you visit, they’re relatively easy to get to and rate among the city’s most celebrated cultural attractions. Here’s a look at five of the most famous and which Six Star Cruise you’ll need to book to see them.
St Peter’s Basilica Rome, Italy
Rome offers one of the biggest concentrations of architectural attractions in Europe, but as the Eternal City is the headquarters of Catholicism, it’s only natural that its biggest religious draw is located in the heart of Vatican City. St Peter’s Basilica is situated on St Peter’s Square, the traditional gathering point for thousands of Catholics who wish to receive the Pope’s Sunday blessing. Built in 324 on the site of the tomb of St Peter, the first pope, this is the largest Christian church in the world and home to some breathtaking works of art, including its celebrated dome; the brainchild of Michelangelo. Entrance is free, too.
How to see it: Just book a Mediterranean cruise which includes Civitavecchia on the itinerary, the port of call for excursions to Rome.
Cathedral of the Sacred Family Barcelona, Spain
For some, Barcelona is the perfect beach escape, but it’s also home to a huge number of architectural wonders, including the largest concentration of works by celebrated architect Antoni Gaudi. The most famous of these is his unfinished masterpiece Sagrada Familia, or Church of the Sacred Family. Equal parts gothic and surreal, work continues apace to complete the building in time to mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death in 2028. Inside and out, it truly is a sight to behold but be sure to book your tickets in advance if you want to beat the queues.
How to see it: Many Mediterranean cruises begin or end in Barcelona, so why not add on a cruise and stay package to give yourself plenty of time in the city?
Temple of the Reclining Buddha Bangkok, Thailand
The Far East is home to thousands of Buddhist temples, and with a name which translates as City on the Sea, Thailand’s a natural port of call. It also has a great many temples to its name, including this one, known also as Wat Pho, which is a must visit because its home to none other than the country’s largest Buddha. Over 150 in length, as the name suggests, this Buddha adopts a slightly more relaxed posture and offers some amazing photo opportunities. The temple is also famous for being Thailand’s first public university.
How to see it: Book a cruise to the Far East which includes the city on its itinerary.
Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood St Petersburg, Russia
The country’s second-largest city after its capital Moscow, St Petersburg is a city which is alive with the history of the tsars and indeed, this church was built to honour Tsar Alexander II and built on the site where he was assassinated. It offers the famous brightly-coloured onion domes that traditional Russian architecture is famous for and is a truly beautiful building. Inside, there are around 7,000 square meters of lovingly-restored mosaics to enjoy, too. You’ll have to pay to enter, but if you’re in the city for more than a day, enter after 6.30pm when it’s quieter and cheaper.
How to see it: Most cruises to the Baltics include a stop at St Petersburg too, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to visit.
The Parthenon Athens, Greece
The city is home to Greece’s largest concentration of ruins, the Acropolis, which date back to the time of one of ancient history’s most powerful and influential civilisations. The collective term for a number of buildings and temples dedicated to the memory of a host of Greek gods, this hill in the centre of Athens is where you’ll find the most famous of theses; the Parthenon. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, it’s one of the world’s most celebrated cultural monuments and as architecturally perfect as it is artistically beautiful.
How to see it: Athens is a key port of call on Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises.
By Simon Brotherton