Top 10 Unique Churches in the World

Discovering the unusual is always intriguing, especially regarding breathtakingly beautiful and unique churches worldwide with impressive architectural designs. Knowledge of these magnificent structures will aid in organizing your travels accordingly and make your journey memorable.

Let’s explore the World’s top 10 unique churches that you must visit. 

10Saint Catherine’s Chapel on the Rock, Colorado, USA

Saint Catherine's Chapel on the Rock

The Saint-Malo Chapel in Allenspark, Colorado, is a must-visit landmark tourist spot. Inspired by a large rock formation near Rocky Mountain National Park, Monsignor Joseph Bosetti designed and built the chapel.

It was named after Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo, who donated the land for the church. Pope John Paul II blessed the chapel during his tour of Denver in 1993. Despite surviving landslides, fires, and other natural disasters, the chapel still operates as a catholic church maintained by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver on the Saint-Malo Retreat, Conference, and Spiritual Center.

9St Augustine’s Church, Brookland, UK

St. Augustine Church, Brookland, UK

St Augustine’s Church in Brookland, UK, has a unique feature – a separate bell tower from the rest of the building. The church was built on an artificial elevation due to the flood-prone area it’s located in. The cladding, which extended it to an octagonal framework, strengthens the structure. 

The chancel and nave are continuous, with no chancel arch, and the windows have plain glass. A painting of Thomas Becket‘s martyrdom can be found at the end of the south wall of the south chapel. The front of the church is circular and made of lead, with signs of the zodiac on the upper course and agricultural labor depictions on the lower course.

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8Hallgrímskirkja church, Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja church, Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja is a parish church that serves as a protective shield over Reykjavík and symbolizes Iceland’s national identity. Designed by State Architect Guðjón Samúelsson, its structure depicts the beautiful Iceland landscape with glaciers, trap rocks, and mountains. 

The church is built in the Expressionist architectural style with a central portion or nave and a cylindrical sanctuary on the other end. The tower with curved side wings provides all service facilities. Believers can light candles in memory of a deceased family member, which costs around 100 ISK(0.75 USD).

7Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil

Cathedral of Brasilia

The Brazilian-designed Roman Catholic cathedral has a unique hyperboloid structure of 16 concrete columns weighing 90 tons. At the entrance stands a pillar with passages from the life of the Virgin Mary. A 39ft wide, 16-inch deep reflecting pool covers the roof to provide cooling. 

The cathedral can hold almost 4,000 people, and visitors enter through a dark tunnel to emerge into a bright space under a fiberglass roof. Three angel sculptures hang from steel cables. Since the church worships the Virgin Mary with her title of Our Lady of Aparecida, hence the name “Queen and Patroness of Brazil.”

6Borgund Stave Church, Norway

Borgund Stave Church, Norway

Borgund Stave Church, a former parish church, now a museum, is a unique Sogn-type triple-nave church. A Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments runs and preserves the church due to its unique architectural style and historical importance. 

The church area holds the only remaining stave-built detached bell tower in Norway. Since the walls use staves or vertical wooden boards, hence the church got the name “stave church.” The four corner posts connect via ground sills on a stone foundation. The intervening staves interlock with their neighbors, forming a strong wall.

5Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro, also known as the Cathedral of St. Sebastian, is a beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral that worships the Saint Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro. Its unique conical shape inspired by Mayan pyramids offers a mystical atmosphere that is said to provide proximity to God. 

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The cathedral can hold up to 20,000 people and features stunning stained glass windows that create beautiful natural lighting inside. The ornate doors are adorned with bronze plaques that depict Christian themes, adding to the church’s beauty and grandeur.

4USAFA Cadet Chapel

USAFA Cadet Chapel

The USAFA (United States Air Force Academy) Cadet Chapel is to the north of Colorado Springs. The chapel has a classic and modernist architectural style. A row of row of seventeen spires is one of the striking features. The south entrance boasts a granite staircase leading to gold anodized aluminum doors.  

To incorporate a monumental structure system, by repetition, seventeen rows of spires rise towards the sky about 150 feet high. It enhances the power of each massive spire. These spires with a tubular steel frame of 100 identical tetrahedrons structure the chapel. The tetrahedron framework has a foot gap filled with colored glass to reflect the light of the chapel.

3Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, Colombia

Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá | Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá

The Roman Catholic church in Zipaquirá, Colombia, is a popular tourist attraction. Built on the underground out of a salt mine, the church really is a modern architectural masterpiece. The church worships the patron saint of miners, Our Lady of the Rosary.

 The new cathedral has various corridors and sanctuaries built in small caves formed by previous mining operations. There are 14 chapels representing the Stations of the Cross and a dome at the end of the main entrance ramp. Visitors can explore the Narthex labyrinth and balcony.

2Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church is better known as Rock Church or the Church of the Rock. Carved directly from solid rock, its structure is really unique. Its stunning copper dome at the center allows natural light to enter through the skylight structure, enveloping the church’s interior.

The rough and unpolished surfaces of the rock provide excellent acoustic quality. Situated in the heart of Helsinki, the Temppeliaukio Church is a top tourist attraction that attracts millions of visitors annually. Due to its location, the stone church is one of Helsinki’s most popular and well-loved landmarks.

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1Thorncrown Chapel, USA

Thorncrown Chapel, USA

Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, USA, is an open-air chapel that resembles the Gothic Sainte-Chapelle church in Paris and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School architecture. Retired school teacher Jim Reed constructed it as a non-religious pilgrimage chapel for meditation. It holds up to 100 people in its enclosed air-conditioned space.

The chapel is open daily from March to December with no entry fee. Constructed with organic materials from northwestern Arkansas, including flagstone and pressure-treated Southern pine, the design blends seamlessly with the surrounding natural setting. A small ornamental roof skylight provides ample natural lighting.