BY: KARINA ANASTASIA ROCHE
April first of this year marks Easter–and many of our out of town guests, and even some locals, often ask us if we know of any beautiful churches to visit. There’s no shortage, of course–Los Angeles has too many to count! These are just the top 6 of L.A.’s most beautiful churches for truly special day of worship.
1. Wayfarers Chapel
Although Wayfarers Chapel is not the most famous church in the L.A. area, it is perhaps the most stunning. At Wayfarers, less is more. You have to drive out of the city to find this breathtaking glass wonder perched a top an ocean cliff, but it is certainly worth the trip (and L.A. traffic on Sunday is much more manageable than on weekdays!) Located in Palos Verdes and almost made entirely out of glass, the small chapel allows sunlight and greenery from the seaside trees to fill the room. With the stone altar, indoor vines, and ocean and mountain views, you might just feel like you’ve caught a glimpse of heaven.
2. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
The most famous place of worship in Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is not to be missed. This modern cathedral, minimalistic yet awe-inspiring, may not be everyone’s idea of a cathedral, but is the place to go for a service. On Christmas, the main room is filled with a sea of poinsettia flowers, and the cathedral is no less splendid on the day of Christ’s resurrection. Skylights, magnificent tapestries, and looming stone walls create an atmosphere that is remarkably ancient, mysterious, and contemporary at the same time. After the ceremony, visit the museum rooms for more inspired art and architecture.
3. St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church
Los Angeles’s modern churches might attract the most attention, but the city has much to offer in terms of history, too. This breathtaking Spanish Baroque church from the 1920s seems pulled right from a painting of Old California. The intricate architecture and mosaics, complete with a dome, bell tower, and sculptures of the Virgin Mary, are as beautiful and enchanting as any in Europe. Some have complained that this church is a little demanding when it comes to donations–but it might be worth spending a little extra on a holy day for a timeless place such as this one!
4. St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral
For more historic architecture, this time hailing from on the other side of the Mediterranean from Spain, St. Sophia boasts a marvelous Byzantine aesthetic. Its massive doors, ornate walls, and stained glass windows place this church in another time. But if you’re looking for an Easter service, don’t bother going this April 1st–for those on the Christian Orthodox calendar, Easter won’t come until April 8th.
5. Immanuel Presbyterian Church
This Gothic church stops one in his tracks–in the middle of the city, suddenly the spires and yawning windows of this magnificent church rise up, and you can almost hear the organs playing. Like a vision from Harry Potter or a German fairy tale, the brooding but sacred interior of this church is both magical and haunting. Sadly, the church is in need of upkeep and some repairs, but it nevertheless remains among the most beautiful in the area.
6. St. Andrew Church
Those acquainted with the endlessly romantic and historic architecture of Pasadena won’t be surprised that the final church on this list is to located here. The Romanesque church of St. Andrew is mesmerizing with its marble pillars, chandeliers, and miniature Michelangelo Pieta sculpture. It is, in fact, a replica of two Roman churches: the 12th century Santa Maria, and the Basilica of Santa Sabina, which dates from the earliest days of Christian Rome. It also features lovely grounds, with fountains and gardens that create a peaceful environment for the community. We can’t all go to the Vatican to worship on Easter, but St. Andrew shares with the faithful an echo of its beauty.
Of L.A.’s churches, the six mentioned on this list are hard to compete with. And if you’re staying with us at the Topanga Canyon Inn, they are all within driving distance from the serene and contemplative getaway in the mountains of Topanga. Book your stay with us this weekend and enjoy this quiet springtime canyon at its greenest and most beautiful–and happy Easter!