Originating in the 12th century in France and inspired by Romanesque architecture, gothic architecture has become an iconic design, synonymous with cathedrals, universities, palaces, and castles across Europe. Its characteristics include the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the flying buttress. For those with a desire to see the world’s best gothic architectural design, be sure to visit the following sites:

Where to See Gothic Architecture

1. The Belfry of Ghent - Ghent, Belgium

The Belfry of Ghent is one of the three medieval towers overlooking Ghent, Belgium and it was designed by master mason Jan van Haelst. It was completed in 1380 and it is the tallest belfry in Belgium. The Belfry of Ghent together with its attached buildings, makes up the set of belfries of Belgium and France that are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

2. The Zagreb Cathedral - Zagreb, Croatia

The Zagreb Cathedral in Zagreb, Croatia is considered the most impressive Gothic monument to the southeast of the Alps. Its features reflect the introduction of Gothic style to Croatia. Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and Kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus, this cathedral is 108 meters high.

3. The Saint Vitus Cathedral - Prague, Czech Republic

The Saint Vitus Cathedral of Prague, Czech Republic is truly a spectacular sight. Known as the largest and most important cathedral of Prague it was founded in 1344 and completed in 1929. The Saint Vitus Cathedral has had a tremendous influence on the development of Late Gothic architectural styles of Central Europe.

4. The Lincoln Cathedral - Lincoln, England

The Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, England serves as the seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. The cathedral was the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311-1549) and is generally regarded as the most beautiful piece of architecture in the British Isles. A major feature of the Lincoln Cathedral are its vaults that differ between the nave, aisles, choir, and chapels.

5. The Frankfurt Cathedral - Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Cathedral in Frankfurt Germany was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and was dedicated to Saint Bartholomew and is characterized by its pink glow and walls of sandstone. It is the largest religious building in the city of Frankfurt and a symbol of Germany’s history and unity, especially in the 19th century.

6. The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella - Florence, Italy

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy (a city that houses a plethora of Gothic architecture) is one of the most important churches in the Tuscany region. Its exterior was designed by Fra Jacopo Talenti and Leon Battista Alberti. The Basilica was financed by some of the most important Florentine families.

7. The Kaunas Castle - Kaunas, Lithuania

The Kaunas Castle in Kaunas, Lithuania was constructed as a defensive structure against the Crusaders. This is the first stone castle in Lithuania and it is characterized by its two rows of protective walls. Today, the castle houses an art gallery and is home to some of the country’s biggest festivals.

8. The Church of Our Lady of Breda - Breda, Netherlands

The Church of Our Lady of Breda is the most important monument and landmark of Breda, Netherlands. The church’s tower is 97 meters tall and is in the shape of the Latin Cross. Completed in 1543, the church underwent a recent restoration in 2003.

9. The Cathedral of Evora - Evora, Portugal

The Cathedral of Evora in Evora, Portugal is best known for its numerous architectural elements. Nestled in the highest spot of the city, the cathedral is part of the historical city center and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Evora. It was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1988.

This article was written by Walter Godinez.