Town-hopping from one historic place to another in Europe has given me the opportunity to appreciate not only the local colors but at the same time the wonderful architecture of the place, especially its churches and cathedrals. More than just the structural beauty, the story behind every building is equally astounding.
1. Messina, Sicily, Italy - I happened to walk around town all by myself and I found my way to the Doumo of Messina. This historic Cathedral boasts its very tall bell tower which every noon time sounds the alarm with a spectacular show of moving statues adorning the bell tower and the church. Inside the church are huge statues of Christ's apostles. The park right outside the Cathedral is beautiful as well, with locals gathering to talk with friends or find some private moment with a book and a cappuccino in a nearby restaurant.
2. St. Peter's Basilica - I found myself truly blessed when I had the opportunity to visit Rome and stand at St. Peter's Square with Pope Benedict XVI himself giving a papal audience to pilgrims from around the world. Rome is rich with beautiful churches and cathedrals. St. Peter's of course is its crown jewel. I was able to go inside and see for itself the beautiful Basilica which is the resting place of the first pope himself, St. Peter. It is definitely a sight to behold.
3. St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice, Italy - Venice is definitely one of those must-go places in Europe. Famous for its waterways and gondolas, Venice is also known for its architecture and churches, the most famous being the St. Mark's Cathedral. This historic cathedral houses the body of St. Mark, one of the disciples of Christ and believed to be one of the four Gospel writers. The line was long when I visited St. Mark's square so I made myself content by just admiring the beautiful facade and the murals outside the Cathedral. Besides, there a lot of things to see and enjoy right outside the Square.
4. Talinn, Estonia - I have visited quite a few Orthodox Churches while I was in Scandinavia but among the few that I have visited, I found the one in Talinn as the most beautiful. What I love about Orthodox churches are their beautiful icons and murals that make both the worshiper and cynic transcend from the mundane to something divine. In one of the Orthodox churches that I visited, I was lucky to even witness an Orthodox baptism happening inside the Church.
It is said that when one visits for the first time a church or Cathedral, one must light a candle, say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be and his or her wish comes true. I don't know if that works exactly but having been given the opportunity to travel and visit these amazing and historical places is already a wish come true.
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