Whether to convey a solemn, mystical or calm atmosphere, churches are recurrent in films, they are part of all cinematographic genres. The following list, as incomplete as it is eclectic, is proof of the diversity of the use of sacred places in cinema.
Nosferatu (1922) is a masterpiece of German expressionist cinema directed by F. W. Murnau. This vampire film (the first-ever made) is set in the picturesque castle of Orava in Slovakia and its Chapel. The latter dates from the 16th century and has a richly decorated baroque interior which is now a venue for concerts.
Santa Maria Nascente, Italy - Little World of Don Camillo
The story of the Little World of Don Camillo (1952) takes place in a small Italian village where a communist leader (Gino Cervi) and a priest (Fernandel) confront each other. The church of the village was such a symbolic set of the film, that two statues of the main characters now adorn the church square.
The Sound of the Music (1965) has attracted many tourists to the Austrian Alps where the story takes place. In Salzburg, the main set of the film, Maria (Julie Andrews) enters the World’s/Austria’s longest-running Christian convents Founded in the 8th century, Nonnberg Abbey is a Benedictine abbey whose buildings are on UNESCO's World Heritage List in the city of Salzburg.
To represent Vienna in the 18th century, Miloš Forman, the director of Amadeus (1984), chose the capital of his native Czechia. The baroque streets seen in the film are actually in Prague, and the scene from Mozart’s wedding is the 14th-century church of St. Giles.
The British film A Room with a View (1985), set in Florence, was intended to highlight part of the city's rich heritage. It is therefore not surprising that the emblematic Santa Croce Cathedralappears in the film. Built at the end of the 13th century by the Franciscans, this building was at the centre of the Florentine Renaissance in the 15th century and was the burial place of important personalities such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli.
Although the book was inspired by the Sacra di Michele, a monastery overlooking the city of Turin, the filming of The Name of the Rose (1986) mainly took place in Eberbach Abbey in Germany. Eberbach Abbey is an incredibly well preserved 12th-century Gothic abbey, offering a perfect setting for this medieval thriller.
Like many other sacred sites, this circular church, built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, in London has a role in Dan Brown's conspiracy thriller: The Da Vinci Code. The church also appears in the film based on the book, as do other churches such as Saint-Sulpice (Paris), the cathedrals of Lincoln, Winchester chapel, and the Rosslyn Chapel (Scotland).
Bruges is known for its peaceful medieval streets along the canals, but Martin McDonagh makes it a crime scene in the dark comedy In Bruges (2008). A scene supposed to take place in the famous Basilica of the Holy Blood, in Bruges, was actually filmed in the Jerusalem Church, north of the city. This 15th-century brick church was designed as a funeral chapel for the rich Adornes family.
Église Saint-Étienne du Mont, France - Midnight in Paris
The Parisian church of Saint Étienne du Mont is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, a picturesque part of the city that has attracted many American film producers. Midnight in Paris (2011) by Woody Allen is no exception, and Saint Étienne du Mont became a central setting of the film as a time machine between the old and new Paris.
Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) presents some of the most remarkable sites in Saxony (Germany). The monastery perched in the mountains, that appears in the epic escape scene of the film, is actually the Trinity Church located in downtown Görlitz.