We are not a very religious crew, but that doesn't stop us from appreciating fine architecture when we see it. Churches, whether they be cathedrals or little country chapels, mosques or temples, are usually an opportunity to observe and gain an insight into the local people and culture. Though we might not attend services, we rarely miss a chance to wander around inside to take in the ornate grandeur or the quiet, serene simplicity that exists there.
In Peru, the cathedral in Arequipa was extraordinarily beautiful. In Lima, we visited the catacombs underneath the cathedral which were quite eerie. They've since collapsed, probably leaving those interred a bit more at peace.
The blue domes of the cathedral in Cuenca, Ecuador could be seen from miles away and visually enticed us into exploring the church.
The elaborate, decorative detail of some of the Argentinian cathedrals we saw were almost overwhelming at times.
Australia has its share of cathedrals as well. St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, for instance, was pretty impressive.
Even in the more isolated areas of the South Pacific like the Gambiers, there were several churches and even a cathedral. In this case, the cathedral was built with the blood and sweat of forced labor by an overzealous, psychotic missionary. It lies in disrepair now, declared unsafe with little hope of restoration.
Sometimes it's not the church itself that intrigues us, but the architectural elements employed in its building like arches, pinnacles, gargoyles and balconies.
Stained glass windows are always eye catchers like these at St. David's in Hobart, Tasmania.
Ornate altars, columns and ceilings catch our attention.
Have you ever read Sarum by Edward Rutherford? It's an historical novel that traces the building of the Salisbury Cathedral in England through the eyes of generations of families who were involved in building it and its fascinating.
Probably more to our liking, however, are the tiny country churches and chapels that we've seen in rural locations throughout the world. In these places, you can rest your spirit perhaps and contemplate life a bit more easily than the massive, echoing halls of the more grand structures.
The simple grace of 200-year-old white, clapboard Unitarian and Congregational churches on the commons area of little New England villages is always appealing.
Let's go back to that first sentence. “We're not a very religious crew.” That's not quite true. Gazing out at a star-filled sky or over a calm, blue ocean fills the soul. And then, of course, it depends on the weather. I remember a few times in the middle of Force 10 storms that I chatted quite incessantly with the guy upstairs in an attempt to get him to fix the weather. So I guess I'd say we're more situational, rainy day believers.