Places of worship that have revolutionised architecture

The architecture of these sacred buildings has inspired generations of architects to the point where it is no exaggeration to say that most of our built heritage consists of copies of these originals.

The Pantheon, Italy

The Basilica of Santa Maria and Martyrs, commonly known as the Pantheon, is an ancient Roman religious building built in the 1st century B.C. on the orders of Agrippa. Damaged by several fires, it was completely rebuilt under Emperor Hadrian (early 2nd century), and transformed into a church in the 7th century. The Pantheon is the largest ancient Roman monument that has survived in an almost intact state. It has had an enormous influence on European architecture, both secular and sacred.

The Pantheon

Hagia Sophia, Turkey

The Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD in the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the finest example of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".

Hagia Sophia

Basilica of Saint-Denis, France

The basilica was built on the tomb of Saint Denis and was the burial place of the kings of France after Dagobert's death in 639. From 1135 and even before, abbot Suger undertook the reconstruction of the Carolingian church and the building was completed in the 13th century at the time of Saint-Louis (1214 - 1270). The basilica is often seen as the first church in the dominant Gothic style, a style then called "Opus Francigenum" because of its French origin.

Basilica of Saint-Denis

Great Synagogue, Hungary

The synagogue on Dohany Street, the Great Synagogue, is the largest Neolog synagogue in Europe and a symbol for Hungarian Jews. Built between 1854 and 1859 according to the plans of Ludwig Förster, it is one of the oldest surviving Moorish-style synagogue. The Moorish style was later given to countless synagogues built in the 19th century. One of the few synagogues to house an organ, the synagogue on Dohany Street hosts classical music concerts and serves as a venue for various festivals.

Great Synagogue

St. Michael's Church, Germany

St. Michael's Church is an Ottonian, pre-Romanesque church founded in 1010. Formerly the abbey church of the Benedictine abbey of the same name, it became a protestant church with the Reformation. The Church of St. Michael is one of the most important surviving churches in the Ottonian architectural style, i.e. pre-Romanesque, anticipating the essential features of the nascent Romanesque period.

St. Michael's Church

Church of the Gesù, Rome

The Church of the Gesù is the mother church of the Society of Jesus. Built between 1568 and 1584, it was designed by a Florentine architect, Nanni di Baccio Bigio. In 1554 the project was reworked by Michelangelo and then by Vignola (1568). The construction of the church is regarded as an important turning point in the history of art, the whole of its baroque design, unprecedented, serving the cause of the Counter-Reformation.

Church of the Gesù

St. Mary's Church, Germany

The St. Mary's Church, called Marienkirche, was built from 1277 to 1351. The building was a symbol of the economic and political power of this city, which was then at the head of the powerful Hanseatic League. As part of the old town of Lübeck, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Marienkirche is widely regarded as the "mother church of brick Gothic", a style that later spread throughout northern Europe through the economic network of the Hanseatic League.

St. Mary's Church

Cologne Cathedral, Germany

The Cologne cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, and rightly so. Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and was not completed until 1880. As one of the largest and most "perfect" Gothic cathedrals in Europe, it inspired many architects and its completion between 1842 and 1880 was an important moment for the emergence of a style that would dominate European architecture in the 19th century, the neo-Gothic.

Cologne Cathedral