Texas is home to many beautiful places of worship and the southern state takes great pride in maintaining and promoting both the old and new. The churches and cathedrals are found in both urban and rural landscapes, and all have a story of cultural relevance. Here are some of Texas’ most aesthetically charming churches and cathedrals.
German immigrants settled in the historic Texas town of Fredericksburg in the mid-1800s. By 1908, the large number of German Catholic descendants had constructed the first church in the community. Built of native stone quarried nearby, the principal architect, Leo M.J. Dielmann, constructed a Gothic-style cathedral. The large and stunning stained-glass windows are the originals from 1914. Notably, the authentic and boastful pipe organ also remains. The interior’s elaborate inscriptions stenciled in German, painted walls and artwork make this church a marveling wonder.
Pilgrim Chapel is located in the heart of Dallas Baptist University. The pristine white façade is quite the sight, especially against a generous Texas sky. Given the recent completion date of this church in 2009, Pilgrim Chapel has quickly made an impression on Dallas Baptist University students and visitors alike. The chapel grandly stands at 192 feet tall and covers 78,600 square feet. Given the size, however, Pilgrim Chapel eludes a peaceful vibe. The interior presents a soothing color palate of sleepy blues and ivory white. Bible verses painted on the rounded arches above the sanctuary provide a beautiful focal point.
Time stands still when you stop and gaze at this historic and beautiful church. Surrounded by the liveliness of downtown San Antonio’s RiverCenter Mall, St. Joseph’s enhances the uniqueness of this cultural mecca of a city. German Catholic immigrants established the first cornerstone of this church in 1868. St. Joseph’s Gothic-style architecture was common for its completion some 30 years later, and impressive stained-glass windows from Germany were added in 1902. The golden tones of the interior really enhance the exceptionalism of this very special landmark.
A beautiful contrast to the urban skyline, Saint Mary Cathedral is an important historical presence in the capital city. The first cornerstone was laid the very same year Austin became the permanent capital of Texas. Saint Mary Cathedral was the first of many churches designed by architect and devout Catholic Nicholas Clayton. His vision was to create a space that evoked beauty found in nature. The strong tree-like columns are adorned with foliage, vines and floral accents. Above the altar is a blue-colored dome with stars to emulate the night sky. The sanctuary itself is in the shape of a ship. One can find beauty in every last detail of this splendid church.
Highly regarded as the ‘Queen of the Painted Churches’, the stunning interior of this church is a unique masterpiece. Since its consecration in 1906, this place of worship has intrigued many patrons of all denominations. The decorative painting on the walls and ceiling are superior enough to create an illusion of Gothic vaults and joints. Images were painted on canvas and then glued to the wood walls, fashioning a form of wallpaper. The quaint community in which this church resides is large in love. Conservation and restoration projects overseen by local artists will keep this treasured church adored for many years to come.
Located adjacent to Houston’s Minute Maid Park, Annunciation Catholic Church is the oldest existing church in Houston. It is said bricks were purchased from an old Harris County Courthouse to start the construction of the church in 1866. This house of worship demonstrates classic Romanesque architecture features found in the rounded arches, sturdy pillars and simpler décor. The grandiose bell tower is most indicative of the Romanesque design and is the church’s signifying attribute.
The beauty of this cathedral lies in its long and interesting history. With the first cornerstone laid in 1738, many consider the San Fernando Cathedral to be the first parish church in Texas. Amazingly, the original walls stand today in the sanctuary around and behind the altar. James Bowie, a significant figure in Texas history, was married at the cathedral in 1831, before the famous Battle of the Alamo in 1836. A marble coffin located within the church claims to hold the remains of the brave Alamo defenders. A portion of the cathedral was renovated in 1868 to the French Gothic design you see today.
Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church – Ammannsville, TX
This gem of a church can be found alongside a remote road in beautiful farm and ranch country. The simple white structure against the gorgeous landscape is about as picturesque as they come. After being destroyed by a hurricane in 1909 and then again by a fire shortly after, the current structure has been standing strong since 1919. The rose-colored interior of this church provides a warm and cozy sentiment given the elaborate scrolling and wall paintings. The remote and secret beauty of this church, given its location, makes it a church you need to see. By Julie Havelka