As someone who has lived in New York City for well over 20 years and who has been raised Catholic, I can honestly say, with absolute certainty, that I am 110% the girl to go if you’re looking for some of the most beautiful and absolute best churches in NYC.
Because while everyone knows about iconic centers of worship like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity Church, not everyone is aware of the wealth of unique, stunningly beautiful, and weirdly wonderful churches that can be found throughout New York City’s five boroughs.
So, if you’re one of those travelers who is looking to do a bit of cultural tourism add some of the most exquisite churches in New York City to an upcoming New York itinerary, then this is the post for you.
Because if you dare to take a peek inside, then I promise that you’ll be utterly astounded by the sheer number of beyond gorg churches that can be found within Manhattan alone.
So gear up my wanderlust loving homie, because we’re about to swan dive, head first, into this wicked awesome post about more than 15 of the best churches in NYC.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Not sure where to stay in NYC? Then check out 414 Hotel (Rooms at this chic, Hell’s Kitchen hotel start at $159 per night and include fridges, flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. There’s even a working fireplace in the lobby!), The James New York (Chic, modern rooms at this Soho hotel start at $177 per night and feature high ceilings, floor to ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, plush linens made from natural materials, and more), The Bowery Hotel, (Rooms at this 5-star, Nolita hotel start at $300 per night and are cozy, but stylish, with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and more). and Pod 39 (Located in Murray Hill, this pod hotel sits inside a residential home from 1918. Rooms here start at $120 per night and are cozy and outfitted with queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with individual TVs and bedside shelves). However, if you don’t see what you’re looking for then you can always read more about some of the great boutique hotels in New York. ***
The Best Churches in NYC: Manhattan
1. St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Located right across the street from Rockefeller Center, is the one and only, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It is probably the single most famous church in all of New York City. Which is why, no list of the best churches in NYC would be complete without mentioning this iconic, neo-Gothic style, Catholic church.
Am I right?
Of course, I am! I mean, this is THE St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s also the largest Catholic Church in the United States and was originally built during the Civil War for a not-so-modest sum of $2 million dollars, So yeah, clearly this place has a lot going for it and just oozes Gothic Revival grandeur at every turn.
However, some of the church’s most prominent features include a stunning, Louis Tiffany–designed altar, which sits below an enormous, 7000-pipe church organ, and a straight-up gorgeous, Charles Connick’s Rose Window.
It’s also worth noting that the church has a basement crypt that is the final resting place for every cardinal of New York, as well as Pierre Toussaint, a famous advocate for the poor and the first-ever African American in history to become eligible for sainthood. WOOT, WOOT!
And while there are occasional walk-in guided tours of the church available (Hint, hint, check their website for all the deets), I highly recommend doing this joint tour of 5th Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Because for just $35 per person, you’ll enjoy an amazing, personalized, hour-long, guided tour of Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center, as well as access to Fastpass admission to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a self-guided audio tour of the facility.
This way, you get to learn a bit more about the church and actually appreciate the pure awesomeness of the architecture that sits before you. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now since this tour is perfect for anyone who is visiting New York for the first time (as is this epic post about what NOT to do when visiting NYC).
Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States
Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 8:30 pm.
How to Get There: You could take the B, D, F, or M train to Rockefeller Center and walk to the church from there.
2. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Without a doubt, St. John the Divine is probably one of the most impressive churches in NYC. I mean, it’s built with an eclectic mixture of Romanesque, Gothic, and neo-Gothic design elements that make the structure look as though it belongs in medieval Europe, not Harlem, New York.
However, surprise! St. John the Divine really is tucked away in NYC and is brimming over with divine (sorry, but I had to make at least one beyond lame pun) stained glass windows, historic 17th-century tapestries, and exquisite pieces of contemporary art from legends like Keith Haring and Tom Otterness.
Add in some Gothic-inspired sculptures from British artist Simon Verity, the single largest stained-glass window in the country (Yeah, it’s pretty epic since it’s comprised of over 10,000 individual pieces of glass), a series of Barberinir Tapestestries from Italy, and a Keith Harring sculpture in the Chapel of St. Columba, and you have a place that even the most un-enthusiastic churchgoer will love.
Plus, added bonus? The cathedral actually sits on a deee-lightful 11-acre plot of land that features a charming Children’s Sculpture Garden and a Biblical Garden that is home to various plants mentioned in the Bible.
So yeah, definitely swing on by sooner rather than later. Especially since you can take a nifty little highlights tour of the facility at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and at 11:00 am Saturday.
Otherwise, if you’re in hella good shape and don’t feel prone to coughing up a lung (or two), then you can always embark on a vertical tour of the facility (available at 10:00 am on Mondays, 12:00 pm on Wednesdays/Fridays, and at 2:00 pm on Saturdays). A tour that will, DUH, take you on a steep climb to the top of the church. Just do yourself a massive favor and bring a flashlight with you since it’s pretty dang dark up there.
But, if you plan to visit at any other time of day then do yourself a solid and pre-book your $10.00 admission tickets now. Because yes, like with most things in NYC, wait times to get inside can be hella long. Plus, a free, self-guided tour is also included with the price of admission. So yeah, that’s kind of awesome.
***If you’re interested in sitting in on a prayer service, then you’ll be delighted to know that they are held three times a day, and four-time a day on Saturdays. So, definitely check out the church’s website for more details. There is also a special Blessing of the Animals service that is held on the first Sunday of October and a Blessing of the Bikes service that is held on the first Saturday of May. Both of which are truly unique events that belong on a list of the more unusual things to do in NYC.***
Address: 1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10025, United States
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sundays from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm.
How to Get There: You can take the 1 train to 116th Street and Columbia station or the A/B.C train to 110 street station and walk to the church from here.
Price: Tickets are $10.00 per person and include a self-guided tour.
3. Trinity Church (Near Wall Street)
Guess what? Not only is Trinity Church one of the best churches in NYC but it was also THE tallest building in the city when it was first completed in 1846.
And although the 280-foot tall bell tower of this historic church has long since been eclipsed by its ultra-modern, skyscraper neighbors (This is also the third version of the church since the original was destroyed by a fire in 1776 and the second building was demolished in 1839), this Episcopalian church is still well worth a visit.
So, step inside this Gothic Revival-style, Episcopalian parish, and marvel at the beautiful stained glass window that sits above the altar.
Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll through the church’s adjacent cemetery, which is the permanent home of several signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the churchyard’s most famous resident, Alexander Hamilton. A man who served as the United States’ first secretary of Treasury and who has recently become famous once again as the star of the hit Broadway show, “Hamilton”.
And if you’re an epic history nerd like me, then don’t forget to visit the on-site museum, which is filled with a wealth of historic diaries, burial records, sermons, photographs, and more.
***If you’re into music, you can always enjoy a performance from the church’s “Pipes at One” organ recital series (at 1:00 pm on Fridays). You can also listen to an evening choral performance or take in the church’s annual December rendition of Handel’s famous Messiah.***
Address: 75 Broadway New York, 10006
Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the R/1 train to Rector Street station or the 4/5 train to Wall Street station and walk to the church from there.
4. St. Paul’s Chapel
Officially part of Trinity Church parish, St. Paul’s Chapel was originally founded in 1766 and stands today as one of the nation’s best examples of late Georgian church architecture.
It is also currently the oldest standing church building in Manhattan since it survived both the Great Fire of 1776 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Something that is definitely a bit of a modern miracle since, as you can see from the photo above, this church was and is within close proximity of the World Trade Center.
But you know what’s really awesome about one of the best churches in NYC? No less than George Washington himself actually stopped in to pray at this Episcopal church in 1789, right after his inauguration as president
So, follow in his immortal footsteps and embark on a free guided tour of the facility at 3:00 pm on Fridays (just meet at the church’s main pulpit). Once on the tour, you can admire the small church’s simple, white nave, which is routinely bathed in ample amounts of natural light that highlight the central, Glory altarpiece.
While you’re here, you can also admire one of the earliest known depictions of the Great Seal of the United States or visit the touching, 9/11 memorial alter in the rear of the church, which commemorates the church’s unique use as an emergency ministry for various emergency workers during those dramatic events (There’s even a church pew here with scratches all over it that came from all of the gear that first responders wore as they collapsed onto the pews from exhaustion).
Otherwise, you can always attend one of the many community events, concerts, and art exhibitions that are routinely held here, inside one of the best churches in NYC.
Address: 209 Broadway, New York, NY 10007, United States
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (You can also attend worship services on Sunday)
How to Get there: Take the 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall; the A/C/E train to Chambers Street, or the 2/3/4/5 train to Broadway/Nassau Street station and walk to the chapel from there.
5. Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Officially completed in 1815, Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral is actually the oldest Catholic church in New York. It was also the only Catholic Church in the city until 1879, when the new St Patrick’s Cathedral (You know, the one that we all know and love on Fifth Avenue), was built for growing numbers of Catholics in the city who needed a place to worship.
However, the real magic happens once you step inside and see the building’s Gothic Revival style interior with its high vaulted ceilings and beautifully carved altarpiece.
There are also, SURPRISE, 35 uber-creepy catacombs, and 5 clerical vaults, that sit in the basement and that serve as the final resting place of various posh AF New York families.
However, if you want to experience this total creepiness for yourself and embrace your love of all things macabre, then you can only visit the catacombs as part of a guided tour.
Because during this 90-minute, guided tour of the catacombs in Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, you’ll get to see 35 crypts that belong to prominent New York families, as well as five clerical vaults. Sadly though, you can only visit the catacombs if you do this guided tour, which costs $35.00 per person and departs from the church at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and 5:00 pm daily.
Personally, though, I loved this tour and think it’s 100% worthwhile since your incredibly friendly and informative guide will show you all of the secrets behind the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. You’ll also get exclusive access to otherwise off-limits areas like the Henry Erben Organ, the on-site, cemetery, and the catacombs beneath the church.
So yeah, definitely stop by one of the best churches in NYC and experience this amazing city in a totally unique way,
Address: 263 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012, United States
Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take either N/Q/R/W train to Prince Street station or the B/D/F/M train to Broadway-Lafayette Street station and walk to the church from there.
6. St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue
If you want to get away from the sometimes more-than-a-little insane hustle and bustle of New York City, then this is one of the best churches in NYC for you.
Because St. Thomas Church is just a quick, 4-minute walk from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and has been holding services here since 1914. It is also a wonderful, quiet little spot where you can sit, reflect, take in French High Gothic style architecture, admire the icon of St. Thomas (a gift from Exeter Cathedral in England), and see a statue of Our Lady of Fifth Avenue.
Because only in New York would such a thing actually exist. And if you want, you can also swing by for one of their regular choral concerts, worship services, or Sunday organ recitals.
Address: 1 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, United States
Hours: Open daily from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm.
How to Get There: Take either the E or M trains to 53rd Street Station or the B or D to 7th Ave and 53rd St. station and walk to the church from there.
7. Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Locally known as Smoky Mary’s, in reference to the notoriously large amount of incense used in their daily services, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin was originally founded in 1868 in the Longacre Square neighborhood of New York. A part of the city that you may more commonly know as Times Square.
However, the main attraction of any visit to this Episcopal Anglo-Catholic Church is the incredibly well-preserved Gothic architecture.
So, step inside one of the best churches in NYC, and admire the stunning vaulting columns, listen to the trill of the church’s famous organ pipes. and admire the vibrant blue and golden hues that adorn the main altar. A snazzy little decorative addition that harkens all the way back to the ye olde, 1990s.
Address: 145 W 46th St, New York, 10036
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Saturday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm.
How to Get There: Take either the N/Q/R train to 42nd Street station or the S/1/2/3/7 to 42nd Steet–Times Square station and walk to the church from there.
8. The Church of the Transfiguration
More commonly known as “the little church around the corner”, this quaint little Episcopal church in the NoMad neighborhood of NYC was a favorite center of worship for old school Vaudeville performers. It’s also still a bit of a hot spot among local Broadway actors, who frequent the congregation for its progressive and incredibly inclusive atmosphere.
Founded in 1848, this stunning, neo-gothic style church comes complete with its very own, private garden, making it look like something straight outta the English countryside. And trust me, I mean that in the best possible way.
The church also apparently got its unique nickname in 1870 when a stage actor by the name of Joseph Jefferson tried to bury a fellow actor, George Holland, in a neighboring church. Since acting was perceived as an unsavory profession at the time, Jefferson was turned away and told to go to, “…a little church around the corner where it might be done.” And, tada! Insert overly excited, magical jazz hands here because that’s where this church got its nifty little nickname.
And another fun little factoid for you. the Church of the Transfiguration was actually a major stopping point along the Underground Railroad and even provided many African Americans with a safe place to stay after they fled the violence of the Civil War draft riots.
So, if you have the time and are looking for a bit of tranquility, then be sure to add this church to your 4 days in New York itinerary. Also, before you go, don’t forget to head inside and see the building’s exquisite, stained glass window. It was created by members of the Player’s Club to commemorate legendary performer, Edwin Booth.
Address: 1 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016, United States
Hours: Open daily from 8:30 am (and 8:00 am on Sundays) to 5:30 pm
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 train to 28th street station or the 1/2 train to 28th street station and walk to the church from there.
9. Saint Vartan Armenian Cathedral
Tucked away inside the posh AF, New York City neighborhood of Murray Hill is a stunning, 20th-century replica of Armenia’s Saint Hripsime Church, which was originally built in 681 AD. A building that appears as though it belongs in the rolling hills of Armenia and not in the moderately mean streets of Manhattan. Especially since this enchanting little church is just 120 feet tall, making it look minuscule as compared to the large swath of enormous skyscrapers that surround it.
But here is where Saint Armenian Cathedral stands with a shimmering, domed roof that is covered in gold leaf. And if you dare to step inside this oasis of cultural bliss, you’ll discover an interior full of stunning stained glass windows and exquisite murals, like the one that sits above the main entrance and depicts the church’s namesake, Saint Vartan. The cathedral also has various unique, Armenian architectural features like double-intersecting arches that make enormous columns totally obsolete.
Address: 630 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016, United States
Hours: Services are held at 9:15 am and 10:30 am on Sundays.
How to Get There: Take the 4 or 6 train to 33rd Street station and walk to the church from there.
10. The Church of St. Francis Xavier
Founded in 1851 by Jesuit priest John Larkin, the Church of St. Francis Xavier was eventually torn down in 1878 after much of the building was destroyed during a horrific fire. Later, in 1882, the church was once again rebuilt and stills stands today, as a progressive congregation that serves the local Catholic community in New York’s famous flat iron district.
Designed using Neo-Baroque style architecture, the exterior of the structure is only outshone by the wealth of gorgeous stained glass windows, religious paintings, and religious sculptures that can be found within the church’s grand interior.
So, if you’re looking for one of the best churches in NYC, then you will not be disappointed by a trip to the Flat Iron district’s very own, Church of St. Francic Xavier.
Address: 46 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011, United States
Hours: Masses are held at 10:00 am Monday through Friday, 10:00 am and 6:30 pm on Saturday, and at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:15 pm, and 7:00 pm on Sundays.
How to Get There: Take the A/C/E train or the 1/2/3 train to 14th street station and walk to the church from there.
11. Other Noteworthy Churches in Manhattan
- Judson Memorial Church – Founded in 1890 by Baptist preacher Edward Judson, this Evangelical-Baptists church is known for its old-world architecture and stunning, stained glass windows. It is also a famous visual and performing arts venue that has showcased the work of painter Robert Rauschenberg and choreographer Trisha Brown. Socially, the church is known for its staunch support of women’s rights, the LGBT community, and local immigrants.
- Church of St. Francis Assisi – This traditional, Gothic Revival style, Roman Catholic church was first built in 1892 and sits in NYC’s iconic Garment District. It is also home to one of the largest mosaics in the country, which is entitled, “The Glorification of the Mother of Jesus”.
- Eglise St.-Jean-Baptiste – A French-Canadian, Catholic church on the Upper East Side that became a designated city landmark in 1969. It is also known for its unique, domed roof.
- Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton – Designed in the neoclassical style in 1965, this Financial district church is named for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native-born person to be canonized by the Catholic church.
- Norwegian Seamen’s Church – Located in Midtown East, this religious institution is part of the Church of Norway and serves as a cultural center for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about Norway and Norwegian culture. Therefore, step inside and you’ll find walls lined with models of Scandinavian ships, as well as a charming little cafe that serves delicious smoked fish and baked goods.
The Best Churches in NYC: Brooklyn
12. Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims
Another one of those churches on this list of best churches in NYC that was founded way back when in 1847, by none other than Henry Ward Beecher. Yeah, he was kind of a big deal back in the day,
Apparently though, this group of twenty-one New Englanders had moved to the city and were looking for a church community that embraced the principles of equality, fellowship, community, and abolition. And thus, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims was born.
Designed by Joseph C. Wells with a simple brick, almost barn-like design, the church quickly became an epicenter for anti-slavery activities since it was an important stop along the Underground Railroad. In fact, church leaders urged congregation members to “purchase” slaves so that they could be set free and even had Abraham Lincoln make an impassioned speech against slavery here in 1860.
However, other notable speakers here include Sojourner Truth, Frederik Douglass, Clara Barton, Mark Twain, Horace Greeley, William Thackeray, and Martin Luther King Jr. That’s why this church was eventually added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 and would be a perfect place to visit for any of my fellow card-carrying members of the history nerd herd.
So, to get the most out of your visit, be sure to stop by on any Sunday at 12:30 pm and take a lovely tour of the elaborate network of tunnels and chambers that were once used as hiding places for escaping slaves.
Address: 75 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11201
Hours: Public tours of the facility are held on most Sundays, at 12:30 pm, and meet in the church’s Sanctuary.
How to Get There: Take the 2/3 train to Clark Street station or the A/C to Brooklyn Bridge/High Street station and walk to the church from there.
13. The Robotic Church
Truth be told, I’m not usually a big fan of churches. I dunno, you see one giant crucifix, you’ve kind of seen them all is how I generally feel about it. And after a while, they all just kind of seem to blend together since they generally have a very similar design and aesthetic. You know, an altar in the front, giant stained glass windows along the walls, and wooden church pews as far as the eye can see.
Unless of course, they’re the total exception to the rule and are extra special, like Gaudi’s famed, La Sagrada Familia. And although Red Hook’s former Norwegian Seaman’s Church isn’t La Sagrada Familia level awesome, it is, without a doubt, one of the quirkiest churches on this list of the best churches in NYC.
Because this place? Well, it’s home to, quite literally, hundreds of hand made futuristic robots. thanks to the tech geniuses over at Amorphic Robot Works, A wonderful array of animatronic marvels that can range anywhere between one foot and fifteen feet in size.
Together, this glorious collection of robots represent a beautiful, artistic movement that was first started by Chico MacMurtrie, who first added 35 kinetic robots to the church in the 1980s.
Since then, this amalgamation of human-like robots has exponentially grown in size and is now home to Amorphic Robot Works’ main studio, where you can stand in awe of the dynamic array of futuristic robots you’ll find along the walls, floors, and ceilings of this historic church.
If you want, you can also stop by for an extra special musical performance since every single one of these amazing robots is controlled by a system of computers and, as a result, creates a unique sound. Sounds that, when played in unison, generate the most wonderfully weird symphony that you ever did hear.
Address: 11 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11231
Hours: Sign up for their email list on their website and you’ll get information about upcoming shows.
How to Get There: From Manhattan, you can take either the 2/3 or the 4/5 to Borough Hall station. From here, hop on the B61 bus, get off at the Van Brunt Street/Verona Street stop, and walk to the church from here.
14. Other Amazing Churches in Brooklyn
- Church of St. Luke and St. Mathew – This Clinton Hill church was designed by Brooklyn native John Welch and was built to look like an Italian basilica from Italy. Brimming over with Neo-Romanesque architecture and grandeur, visitors will be delighted by an assortment of grand archways, stone walls, and rose windows that combine to create one of the most beautiful churches in NYC.
- St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church – Opened in 1847, St. Ann’s is a Gothic revival style church that is home to some of the earliest examples of figural stained glass windows in the United States. it is also a designated National Historic Landmark and a regular venue for the city’s famous, One World Symphony opera series.
The Best Churches in NYC: Queens
15. The Church at Loews Valencia Theater
Even if you hate churches, and I seriously doubt that you do since you’re reading this post about all fo the best churches in NYC, you’ll love the church at the Loews Valencia Theater in Jamaica, Queens.
Because as you probably already surmised (you insanely smart human being you), this church was once a grand theater that still retains much of its ornate, next-level-awesome, move-related architecture.
Originally built in 1929 as the Valencia Movie House, this 3,500 seat movie theater was eventually in 1977 and has since been converted into the local church that you’ll find here today. Thankfully though, much of the building’s vibrant, Spanish and Mexican style architecture remains, which is why you should totally take a tour of the facility, or visit as part of a Sunday service.
Because once you step inside, you’ll be amazed by the structure’s resplendent red and gold interior, complete with enchanting wooden banisters, exquisite glass chandeliers, and a large organ in the lobby. You’ll also see the theater’s antique ticket booth sitting out front, as well as a variety of historic, aquatic-themed carvings that adorn the facade of the building’s exterior.
Address: 165-11 Jamaica Avenue, Queens
Hours: You can attend a Sunday church service or arrange a private tour by appointment only.
How to Get There: Take the E train to Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue station and hop on the Q6 bus. Ride the bus for four stops, get off at Jamaica Avenue/165 street stop, and walk to the theater/church from here.
Price: You can arrange a free tour of the theater with Sister Forbes at 718-657-4210, ext. 20.
And there you have it, my uber-snazzy picks for the 15+ best churches in NYC.
So tell me, did your favorite church in New York City make the list?
If not, then let me know in the comments below because I would love to check it out!
Oh, and if you found this article even a little bit helpful, then be sure to pin this post now so that you can read it again later!