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Best Religious Sites in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

The interior of this ultra-modern Catholic church is sleek, spare and remarkably intimate, considering that it seats 2400 people in a semi-circle around the altar. The central dome of Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption soars 15 stories into the air and is supported by buttresses that have been incorporated into each of the four corners of the building's interior. The corner walls beyond them are floor-to-ceiling plate glass. This effect gives the building the feeling of somehow being lighter than air for all its masses.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Mission San Francisco de Asis

Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1779, Mission San Francisco de Asis, also known as Mission Dolores, is the oldest structure in San Francisco. The mission and the city that surrounds it was named after St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. The Mission Dolores has gone through several repairs and renovations since its founding and the mission's original adobe structure still stands on-site, as well as a section of the original cemetery. The mission was the first location to be designated by the City of San Francisco as a protected historical landmark in 1968.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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St Patrick's Church

This Roman Catholic church, dated 1851, was founded to serve San Francisco's Irish community. That commitment is reflected in the church's gold, green and white decor. Note, for example, the green-tinted rose window over the choir. The columns on either side of the nave are Connemara green marble imported from Ireland itself. What makes this neo-Gothic church especially worth seeing are the Tiffany stained glass windows glowing brightly beneath the vaulted ceiling. There are also display cases with photographs of the extensive damage to St. Patrick's during the 1906 earthquake.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Grace Cathedral

This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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St. Dominic's Catholic Church

Located in the Western Addition neighborhood, St Dominic's Church was built in 1928. The architecture of this massive church features a variety of influences including both French and English. One of the most breath-taking features of the church are the 36 stained glass windows with some reaching 30 feet in height. Tours of the church are often available on Saturdays covering the architecture, art and history.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Old Catholic Cathedral Of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception

At one time, the spire of this cathedral was the tallest structure in the city. There may be buildings taller than this cathedral these days, but none offers such a rich history. The church's foundation is granite that was cut in China. The exterior of the Old Catholic Cathedral Of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception is composed of red bricks that were made in New England and brought around Cape Horn. Inside, the white plaster sanctuary offers stained glass and exhibits the ribbed-vault arches typical of neo-gothic architecture. The lighting is kept low, giving the shrines along the walls, lit with indirect spots and votive candles, an ethereal glow. Display cases house a collection of drawings, photographs, and artifacts from St. Mary's rich history, which includes dramatic photos of the devastation caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Tin How Temple

You reach Tin How Temple, the oldest Chinese temple in San Francisco (founded 1852) by climbing three flights of steep and narrow stairs in the heart of Chinatown. Once there, after catching your breath, your breath may very well be taken away again. The west wall of this tiny temple is an expanse of intricately carved gilded wood housing the shrine to Tin How, the goddess of Heaven. From the ceiling hang hundreds of paper lanterns, each bearing the name (in Chinese characters) of the person for whom it is intended to bring long life and happiness.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Buddha's Universal Church

Colorful murals and tile mosaics cover this five-story building. Buddha's Universal Church was constructed by hand as an act of faith in 1961. This beautiful temple is a center of worship for San Francisco's Buddhist population. Its roof garden affords a panoramic view of the city while the interior is serenely lovely, decorated with traditional Buddhist motifs. The church is open, free of charge, to visitors on the second and fourth Sundays of the month excepting the months of February and March.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Presidio Chapel

The Presidio Chapel was constructed in 1931. Primarily a chapel, the main activity that takes place is couples exchanging their vows. The Chapel is operated by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, a non-profit organization that is into interfaith dialog, collaborations, education, friendship and service.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Holy Virgin Cathedral

This imposing Byzantine-style structure is crowned with five onion domes, each covered in 24-karat gold leaf. On a bright day with the sunlight hitting the Holy Virgin Cathedral, the view is absolutely dazzling. Inside one gets a glimpse of a period back in time. The interior, consecrated in 1977, could just as easily date from 1577. Through the incense gleams the gold of more mosaics, these depicting various saints, and the precious metals of the icons that are everywhere.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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