Saint Marie Madeleine, or La Madeleine is a Neo-classical style Roman Catholic church started in the late 1700s, but finally consecrated in 1842. Originally, the design with the columned exterior and alcoves for statues was designated by Napoleon to be a memorial to the “Glory of the Great Army”. Later, after Napoleon’s fall, King Louis XVIII decided that the structure would be a church, dedicated to Mary Magdalene. The composer Chopin’s funeral was held here the year the church opened. It still has daily Masses and can be visited at its location in the 8th arrondissement in Paris, France.
A train ride of just over an hour from Florence takes you to the town of Pisa, Italy. Famous for the leaning bell tower, the complex is also home to the Pisa Cathedral and Baptistry and is known as Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) or Square of Miracles. The Cathedral’s construction started in 1063 and consecrated in 1118. Over the years it’s been expanded and also partially rebuilt after a severe fire in 1595.
The Pisa Baptistry of St. John is the largest in Italy. The marble building has both Romanesque (lower) and gothic sections (upper) and was completed in 1363, two hundred years after construction began. A computer analysis of the building supports the theory that the original architects designed it to mimic church organ pipes and the building is known for its incredible acoustics which the staff periodically demonstrate.
The Votivkirche (Votive Church) is a neo-gothic church in Vienna, Austria. It was being remodeled when I was visiting, but much of the cathedral was still accessible. The church was built as a thanks to God when the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph survived an assassination attempt in 1853. His brother helped raise the funds and it was dedicated in 1879. The church was badly damaged during World War II and has had various renovations since then. Wikepedia has some detailed information on the interior as well.
There are several large, ornate churches in Paris that I’d never heard of before I visited. Saint-Sulpice is a Roman Catholic Church a bit away from the main tourist areas but it’s the second largest church in Paris, France, after Notre Dame. The Romanesque church now in this spot (replacing an earlier building) was started in 1646. It features a spectacular Great Organ dating from 1862 and is used for regular organ concerts in addition to Mass.
Notre Dame du Sablon (Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon) is a Brabantine Gothic style church in the historic area of Brussels, Belgium. Initially this was the site of a smaller chapel honoring Mary, but around 1400 the construction of the church began and took about a hundred years. The two chapels were added in the 17th century (St. Ursula – 1676, Saint Murcouf-1690) and a significant restoration was needed in the late 19th century due to deterioration. Wikipedia has a fairly thorough summary of the history of the church.