Looking up at the columns and arches that separate a side corridor from the main hall of St. Barbara's Cathedral, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1388.

The interior of Trinity Church, located on Broadway at Wall Street in New York City. The church building, completed in 1846, is the third on this site. The first, completed in 1698, was destroyed in a fire in 1776, The second, completed in 1790, was weakened by heavy snows and torn down in 1839.

The twin bell towers of St. Mary's Church rise above shops and the Martin Luther monument, Wittenberg, Germany.

Houses on San Francisco's Russian Hill serve as a background for the twin spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church, located on Filbert Street. The image was taken from Telegraph Hill, beside Coit Tower.

A view through an open door to Corpus Christi Chapel adjacent to St. Barbara's Cathedral in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

Looking east on Broad Street toward Michael's Church at sunrise, Charleston, S.C.

Worshippers light candles inside Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Visitors walk between shops on Burgstrasse beneath the spires of Meissen Cathedral, Meissen, Germany.

Visitors walk inside a corridor in St. Barbara's Cathedral, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1388.

The Eglise Saint-Maclou (Church of Saint-Maclou) stands beyond a courtyard in Rouen, France. Construction began on the church in 1436. It was completed in 1521.

Doorway and steps lead to the roof of Corpus Christi Chapel adjacent to St. Barbara's Cathedral in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

Stained glass windows line a wall of St. Vitus Cathedral inside Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic. The castle dates to 870 AD.

Standing behind the altar at The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Bampton, Oxfordshire, England. The church dates from the 12th century and has been used for wedding scenes in the award-winning British television period drama Downton Abbey.

The Church of Mother of God before Týn stands above buildings on the east side of Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. It has been the main church in Prague's Old Town since the 14th century. The twin spires stand more than 260 feet tall.

The steeple of the distant Kreinitz Church in Zeithain, Germany, can be seen between trees along the Elbe River.

A patch of blue sky peeks through clouds above the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen in Rouen, France. The building dates to the early 12th century.

St. Barbara's Cathedral stands on a hill above homes in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. The white tower and building to the right of the cathedral is the Gallery of Central Bohemia.

Worshippers visit a chapel inside Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

Collégiale Notre-Dame (the Collegiate Church of Our Lady) rises above neighboring buildings near the Seine river in Vernon, France.

A view of the main nave of St. Vitus Cathedral inside Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic. The castle dates to 870 AD.

Looking up at the front door to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen in Rouen, France. The building dates to the early 12th century.

The spires of Meissen Cathedral rise above surrounding buildings in Meissen, Germany. The cathedral was built between 1260 and 1410.

The Church of St. James sits atop a hill in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1330. The church's bell tower is more than 280 feet tall. on the church in 1330. The church's bell tower is more than 280 feet tall.

Visitors walk past shops on Burgstrasse in Meissen, Germany. In the background is the Church of Our Lady bell tower.

The columns on Radcliffe Camera and the steeple on University Church of St Mary the Virgin stand against a blue morning sky in Oxford, England. The photo was taken facing south Radcliffe Square. Radcliffe Camera is a science library; "camera" is Latin for "room."

A candle burns near the altar in St. Mary's Church, Wittenberg, Germany.

A view of the altar in St. Barbara's Church, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1388.

Columns and arches surround a door at the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church on New Inn Hall Street in Oxford, England.

The afternoon sun shines behind a tower at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen in Rouen, France. The building dates to the early 12th century.

Stained-glass windows filter light into the soaring interior of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

A bell tower at St. Mary's Church rises above shops on Collegienstrasse in Wittenberg, Germany.

Prague Castle extends toward the clouds, Prague, Czech Republic. The castle dates to 870 AD.

Visitors line up to tour Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

The Meissen Cathedral and other buildings are framed by a passageway of a gatehouse on Schlossbrucke Street in Meissen, Germany.

Walkers stroll east toward Old Town Square and the Church of Mother of God before Týn that towers in the distance, Prague, Czech Republic. The Prague Astronomical Clock is ahead on the left.

St. Barbara's Cathedral stand on a hilltop in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1388.

The view from the rear of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen in Rouen, France. The building dates to the early 12th century.

Shops line Brandenburger Strasse in Potsdam, Germany. The Catholic Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul is at the end of the street.

An altar stands beneath vaulted ceilings in St. Mary's Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Prague Castle stands above surrounding buildings when seen from the hilltop at Strahov Monastery Brewery, Prague, Czech Republic.

One of the chapels inside Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen in Rouen, France. The building dates to the early 12th century.

The altar inside The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Bampton, Oxfordshire, England. The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Bampton, Oxfordshire, England dates from the 12th century. It has a 13th-century spire, and a carved stone reredos of Christ and his Apostles from about 1400. The church has been used for wedding scenes in the award-winning British television period drama Downton Abbey.

The bell tower at All Saints Church rises above shops along Schlossstrasse in Wittenberg, Germany.

A view of St. Barbara's Cathedral from between the pews, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Construction began on the church in 1388.

A view from the back of The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Bampton, Oxfordshire, England. The church dates from the 12th century and has been used for wedding scenes in the award-winning British television period drama Downton Abbey.

"Theses Doors" at All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, commemorate Martin Luther's "95 Theses" were installed on Luther's 375th birthday in 1858.

Prague Castle extends toward the clouds, Prague, Czech Republic. The castle dates to 870 AD.

The Stadt- und Pfarrkirche St. Marien zu Wittenberg (Town and Parish Church of St. Mary's) in Wittenberg, Germany, rises above a field when viewed from the Elbe River. The church was built in 1280. The reformers Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached there.

10.22/Churches

Two things are obvious. First, it’s the amazing architecture that drew my attention and led to the many photographs. And second, the credit for the collection goes to Europe. 

Earlier this year, after returning from a trip to Europe, I was looking for something in my photo files and had a sudden realization: I have quite a few photos of churches.

It wasn’t the result of a specific photographic interest, like my collections of photos of doors, windows, street art, clock towers, steps and a few other oddball subjects that get my attention when I’m out with my camera.

But it happened.

I have exteriors. I have interiors. I have stained glass windows. I have towering ceilings. I have steeples and bell towers. I have doors. I have altars. I have arches and columns and candles.

It’s turned into a sizable collection. 

And two things are obvious. First, it’s the amazing architecture that drew my attention and led to the many photographs. And second, the credit for the collection goes to Europe. All but a couple of the photos were churches in France, Germany, the Czech Republic and England. There are incredible churches throughout Europe, many dating to six centuries or more before the United States even existed. 

In smaller communities, it’s easy to see how the village/town/city grew around the footprint of the church over the many centuries. The churches are the hubs or anchors of the communities.

In 2018 we visited Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, about nine months before a fire destroyed much of the 800-year-old church. The inside of the cathedral, with its soaring ceilings, was awe inspiring.

But I can say the same of churches we’ve visited in Rouen or Vernon, France. Or London or Oxford or Bampton, England. Or Prague or Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Or Berlin or Dresden or Potsdam or Wittenberg or Meissen, Germany. All have ancient churches that are centerpieces of the community and the focus of visiting tour groups. 

I admit that after returning from a European trip I can’t remember the specifics of any church in any community. There are so many of them and, after a few weeks, they all blend together. But the photographs allow me to separate the mental scenes into separate memories.

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Photographs and text: Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved. Photographs may not be used without permission.

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