One of my favorite things about living in the Big Apple is constantly stumbling across beautiful churches in New York City — the city is full of them.
I spend most of my free time aimlessly wandering the streets and my walks have taken me to some of the most incredible churches in NYC. Most of these churches are centuries old and offer a great break for respite and reflection amidst the noise of the city.
If you practice a religion, consider yourself a history buff or simply appreciate breathtaking architecture, allow me to share my personal list of the most beautiful churches in New York City, based on firsthand experience.
Clearly I’m not one for small talk, so let’s get to it.
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#12. Saint Thomas Church in NYC
Saint Thomas Church is one of the most magnificent churches in New York City but it’s often overlooked due to the high concentration of churches in the vicinity (we’re looking at you, St. Patrick’s Cathedral).
Opened in 1914, the detailed Flamboyant gothic architecture is where this church really shines. You can lose hours studying the detailed arches, windows and reredos.
The exterior is made of limestone and the interior is made of sandstone, but the star of the show is the stunning stained glass window.
Make sure to tour the interior of the church, the location where many prominent wealthy marriages took place for a reason — it’s stunning.
Address: 1 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
#11. Marble Collegiate Church
Located in the shadow of the Empire State Building is the Marble Collegiate Church. This church was built between 1851-54, but the congregation housed within was founded in 1628, making it the oldest continuous Protestant congregation in North America.
In fact, this congregation was meeting while the city was still called New Amsterdam, not New York City (here’s why).
Originally called the Fifth Avenue Church until being renamed in 1906, the building was designed in a Romanesque Revival style and the facade covered in marble (for which the church was renamed).
Built on a smaller-scale and equipped with a steeple (who doesn’t love a church with a steeple?) this church serves as a reminder of what NYC was like before skyscrapers.
Once inside, you’ll notice the deep-red walls and pews, but it’s the intricately detailed hand-painted Tiffany stained glass windows that steal the show.
Address: 1 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
#10. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church was established in 1868, but the current building wasn’t built until 1902-1904. Designed in a beautiful gothic revival architecture style with an elegant copper spire, this is one of the most beautiful churches in New York City to admire from the outside.
The church is dwarfed by the massive buildings that surround it, but the location couldn’t be better. Located in the Upper West Side, opposite Central Park, this church is as lively every Sunday morning.
Address: 3 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023
#9. Grace Church in New York
Grace Church was designed in 1846 by a 23-year old architect that would go on to design the masterpiece that is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1853.
This stunning NYC church was James Renwick’s first project wherein he was selected to design a French Gothic Revival church.
The catch? Renwick had never seen a Gothic Revival church in person so he studied the designs through books. The result? One of my favorite churches in New York City!
If the church is open, head inside because visitors are welcome to sit in pews to pray and reflect. We were even serenaded by a practicing organ player during our visit.
The interior of Grace Church is stunning and the intricate stained glass window is one of the most beautiful in New York City. This church is a must see.
Address: 802 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
#8. St. Bartholomew’s Church
I don’t know about you, but there’s something about seeing a massive church from a bygone era placed between skyscrapers that evokes strong feelings of intrigue. A reminder of a different time, proof that the city wasn’t always as big as it is today.
St. Bartholomew’s Church is no exception. Tucked safely between high-rises in the Upper East Side, this incredible monolithic domed church is often overlooked because of the plethora of touristy spots surrounding it.
But don’t make the same mistake, the interior is breathtaking and will transport you to a different time. Touring this church is a great way to return to center and escape the overwhelming bustle of the city.
It’s hard to imagine that such a tranquil place could be located in scramble of midtown.
Heads up: This NYC church is right next to my favorite bagels in New York City (Ess-A-Bagel), swing by if you’re hungry!
Address: 325 Park Ave, New York, NY 10022
Read More: Local’s Guide to the BEST Bagels in NYC
#7. Trinity Church
Trinity Church was originally built in 1698 before being destroyed by the Great New York City Fire of 1776. The second building went up shortly after before succumbing to damage due to severe snowfall in 1838.
Alas, the church you see today is actually the third building, which was completed in 1846. When construction was complete, this church building was the tallest building in the country, largly thanks to the 280-foot bell tower.
Today visitors can take in the old-school wooden pews and stunning stained glass window that characterize this famous New York City church.
If you enjoy the sound of pipe organs (my husband is an avid fan), swing by the Pipes at One recitals held every Friday at 1pm. When you’ve had your fill, swing by the small church museums to see an interesting collection of photographs and diaries.
Any Hamilton fans out there?
If so, Trinity Church may ring a bell. This is the church where Alexander Hamilton and his son, Phillip, are buried. Hamilton served as the first United States Secretary of Treasury and was recently resurrected from the history books thanks to the famous musical Hamilton.
You can see Hamilton’s tombstone from the sidewalk, it’s definitely worth a quick stop if you’re a fan of this founding father. If you want a closer look, make sure to tour the cemetery when visiting this iconic NYC church.
Address: 75 Broadway, New York, NY 10006, United States
#6. St. Paul’s Chapel
If you’re a history buff you’re going to love visiting St. Paul’s Chapel because it’s the oldest surviving church in New York City.
Built in 1766 (before the founding of our country, mind you), this church was used as an additional campus for the parish at Trinity Church (a mere five blocks away).
St. Paul’s Chapel has earned the moniker of “The Little Chapel that Stood” because it wasn’t destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776 that wiped out Trinity Church, nor the 9/11 attack in 2001 (which occurred two blocks away).
You can see in the photo above just how close the One World Trade Center is to this famous New York City church. How this famous New York City church wasn’t damaged or destroyed on that infamous day is beyond me.
Indeed, St. Paul’s Chapel was used as a relief sanctuary during the 9/11 attacks and for nine months after. Now that’s a miracle if I ever saw one.
I strongly encourage you to visit St. Paul’s Chapel because it is one of the most historically significant churches in New York City.
Plus, since it’s a stone’s throw from the 9/11 Memorial, it’s easy to add to the itinerary. You can tour the church for free Fridays at 3pm. During your tour, pay particular attention to one of the earliest depictions of the United States Seal.
Address: 209 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
Interesting Fact about St. Paul’s Church in New York City: This is the church where George Washington came to pray after his Presidential inauguration in 1789.
#5. The Church of St. Francis Xavier
Founded in 1851, the Church of St. Francis Xavier is located in the Flatiron District. The original building was destroyed by a fire in 1878 but, wasting no time, the church was promptly rebuilt in 1882.
This is one of the most beautiful churches in New York City, but is surprisingly easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.
The true treasure is inside, which is why you should swing by if the doors are open. Perhaps one of the most beautiful interiors of the churches in NYC, the Church of St. Francis Xavier is breathtaking inside.
The Massive ceilings, incredible molding and stunning paintings are proof that no detail was overlooked and no corners cut during the design of this stunning church in New York City.
Address: 46 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011
#4. Riverside Church
The funding for Riverside Church is largely thanks to John D. Rockefeller Jr. who used his family’s wealth to better-root his family’s legacy in the bedrock of New York City.
The result? A striking NYC church built in the French-Gothic style equipped with an astounding 21-story bell tower. The church doesn’t feel as busy because it’s located further uptown, making this one of the more peaceful churches to visit in NYC.
Make sure to admire the organ while touring the inside. Made with 7,855 pipes, this is one of the largest pipe organs in the world.
The history of the parish is equally important and worth mention. Riverside Church has been active with the LGBTQ+ community since the early 1970s, making it one of the first churches in NYC to publicly accept the LGBTQ+ community.
In fact, in 1978, a ministry group from the church led a study on the connection between religion and homosexuality in an effort to become more inclusive to this underrepresented community.
Address: 490 Riverside Dr, New York, NY 10027
#3. Église St. Jean Baptiste
Located in the Upper East Side is one of the most beautiful churches in New York City — St. Jean Baptist Church, often referred to as Église St. Jean Baptiste.
I still recall the first time I stumbled upon St. Jean Baptist Church in NYC. My husband and I were running late to meet up with friends at a nearby restaurant but the sight of this beauty stopped me in my tracks.
Built in 1913, the exterior of the church is breathtaking, no doubt, but the colorful interior is where this church truly shines.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, see for yourself!
Address: 184 E 76THSt, New York, NY 10021
#2. Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Construction may have started in 1892 but St. John the Divine is still technically an unfinished church.
That doesn’t stop it from being the largest church in New York City and the fifth largest church in the world, though!
Most famous for its commandeering size and well-executed Gothic architecture, there’s a reason Columbia students flock to the steps like moths to a flame during the summer season. Simply being in the presence of this church feels important.
This is one of the only churches in New York City that charges an admission – $10 per person for a self-guided tour or $15 for a tour guide. It’s a fair price for admission.
I recommend the Vertical Tour which takes you to great heights, as implied (the church ceilings reach heights of 232 feet!). You’ll get to see the iconic stained glass window, which is comprised of more than 10,000 pieces of glass, up close and personal and learn about the church’s breathtaking architecture.
Also worth mention, this beautiful New York City church is further removed from the more touristy parts of the city so it’s not as crowded as most of the other churches mentioned on this list.
Address: 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025
Interesting fact: James Baldwin’s and Nikola Tesla’s funerals and Eleanor Roosevelt’s memorial service were held at St. John the Divine.
#1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City
Surely you’re not surprised to see me saving the best for last, right? St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the most beautiful cathedral in New York City. There I said it.
Located right off 5th Avenue, this Neo-Gothic style cathedral has been stopping people in their tracks since its completion in 1879. But it’s not hard to see why this is arguably the most popular church in New York City.
Welcoming more than 5 million visitors per year, this iconic New York City cathedral took 21 years to build because construction halted during the Civil War.
With a seating capacity of 2,000 people per mass, this is one of the largest cathedrals in NYC. Touring the interior is a no-brainer and self-guided tours are free, so swing by if the doors are open. If you want a more in-depth experience, sign up for a guided tour.
You’ll be amazed by the stained windows, which consist of 3,700 stained glass panels. The star of the show is the breathtaking Rose Window which spans 26 feet. You’ll also notice the 20 alters located within the confines of this sacred space, two of which were designed by Tiffany & Co.
There’s also a basement crypt that serves as the final resting place of every cardinal of New York.
The cathedral was recently renovated to the tune of $177 million, so you can bet it’s a sight for sore eyes.
Fact: St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, who is currently Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan and he reports directly to the Pope.
Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Let’s Talk About The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral
We’re all about educating here at New York Simply, and it would be inexcusable if we didn’t mention one of the most historic churches in New York City.
The Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral is typically shortened to St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral or Old St. Patrick’s. This parish served the Catholic community and was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until the current St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened in 1879. Thus, earning the moniker “Old St. Patrick’s.”
When the new St. Patrick’s Cathedral opened Old St. Patrick’s was demoted to a parish church. However, it made quite the comeback in 2012 when Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica because of the church’s rich history.
Designed in 1809 by the same man who designed City Hall, Joseph-François Mangin, the Gothic Revival building was the largest church in New York City when built.
Rather unassuming from the outside, the church’s interior is where it truly shines, especially the catacombs and clerical vaults located in the basement. Visit during a guided tour for an experience you won’t soon forget.
Address: 263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States
You know the famous baptism scene in The Godfather? Well, it was filmed inside this church. The church made a second appearance in The Godfather Part III when Michael Corleone received an honor from the church.
Stunning Cathedrals & Churches in New York City (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the best striking churches and cathedrals in NYC.
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- St. John the Divine
- St. Jean Baptiste Church
- Riverside Church
- Church of St. Francis Xavier
- Trinity Church
- St. Paul’s Chapel
- St. Bartholomew’s Church
- Grace Church
- Holy Trinity Church
- Marble Collegiate Church
- Saint Thomas Church
Map of the most beautiful churches in NYC
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the most beautiful churches in New York City. I hope you enjoyed the post!
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.