The 5 Most Beautiful Churches in Scotland

Religion played a big part in Scotland's past, as is the case with most countries. While the kirks (churches) are very different to the ones on the Continent, they can be equally surprising in both architecture and history.

My Favorite Five Scottish Churches

1. Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin

At present, Rosslyn Chapel is the most famous church in Scotland thanks to being featured in the The Da Vinci Code book and movie by the same name. While Rosslyn Chapel has now become what you may call a tourist-trap, there's no denying, its architecture is unique and very beautiful.

When I think of Rosslyn Chapel, I immediately think 'white stone lace' for that's what the rich and intricate details of the carvings look like. Famous features include: The Green Man, The Apprentice Pillar, The Mason Pillar, the Lady Chapel ceiling and death mask of Robert the Bruce.

More photos of Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin
Ceiling of the Lady Chapel
The Green Man
Apprentice Pillar
North aisle in Rosslyn Chapel
Lady Chapel

2. St Giles Cathedral

Stained glass effects, St Giles cathedral

This cathedral, so massive in appearance and yet smaller in size than other, much larger cathedrals, is located at the heart of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. In its long history St. Giles witnessed riots, celebrations and executions that marked Scotland's history. It also suffered fire damage, restoration and significant architectural changes.

The most impressive features are the Organ and the wonderful wood carvings of the Thistle Chapel (angels playing the bagpipes).

More photos of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
Angel playing the bagpipe, Thistle Chapel
St Giles cathedral from Royal Mile (south)
St Giles cathedral from Royal Mile (north)
The Organ
Thistle Chapel, St Giles cathedral

3. St Monans Church

St Monans church from cemetery

St Monans church is a striking and intriguing building. Its location, for starters, is right on the shore, at the fringes of one of the most beautiful fishing villages in Scotland. Its features (particularly the tower), are different to what you see in other parts of Scotland but not uncommon in the East Neuk of Fife.

Looking around the inside of the church, you can almost imagine how the fishermen's wives would gather to pray in stormy weather for the safe return of their husbands. Its story lies in the details - the wooden ship hanging from the ceiling, the prayer books, the organ, etc.

More photos of St Monans Church, St Monans
St Monans church seen from the village
Wooden ship hanging by the ceiling
St Monans and church from coastal path
The church, seen from the village
Very close to the sea edge

4. Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey, the Scottish Borders

The Scottish Borders may not have impressive mountains or glens but they do have the abbeys. The ruins of Melrose Abbey form one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Scotland (alongside Jedburgh Abbey). But perhaps the most important reason for its popularity with visitors is the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce, said to rest on the abbey grounds.

More photos of Melrose Abbey, Melrose
Melrose tomb stone
Melrose building, decorated with flowers
Ruins of Melrose Abbey
Melrose Abbey ruins seen at night
Embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce

5. St Michael's Church

St Michael's church, Linlithgow

St Michael's church in Linlithgow, West Lothian, is unlike any other in Scotland. Its most striking feature is, without a doubt, the aluminum crown anodized to a gold finish which you can see from most of Linlithgow, even from the train.

The church is placed on high ground, between the town and Linlithgow Loch and immediately south of Linlithgow Palace.

More photos of St Michael's Church, Linlithgow
St Michael's church from Linlithgow loch
Stained glass window, St Michael's church
Tower of St Michael's church
St Michael's church and Linlithgow Palace
Linlithgow Palace and church reflection