Basilica of Saint Mary named one of America's '20 Most Beautiful Churches' by TripAdvisor

The stunning Minneapolis basilica is a historic landmark.
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The Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis is one of the most beautiful places of worship in the country.

That's according to TripAdvisor, which features the Hennepin Avenue landmark in its list of America's "20 Most Beautiful Churches, Cathedrals and Basilicas."

The country's first established basilica, TripAdvisor praises Saint Mary's for its permanent art collection, specialty galleries and its exhibits. It's a place that offers "art, history and religion" in equal measure for visitors, it writes.

The travel site created the list to show that despite Europe being home to world-renowned, centuries-old places of worship, America has its own set of newer but no less beautiful churches to visit.

The Roman Catholic basilica near Loring Park is known for hosting the annual "Basilica Block Party," with its surroundings transformed into a concert arena for thousands of music fans.

More about the basilica

First opened in 1914, with construction finished a year later, the grand beaux-arts building was designed by French architect Emmanuel Masqueray, according to its website.

While the building itself was completed in 1915, interior work didn't begin until 1922, and was nearing completion when the church was declared the nation's first basilica in 1926.

Its spectacular stained glass windows were designed by local glassmakers, Thomas J. Gaytree Studios, all of which were installed by 1926. The company, in its current form, still cares for the glass today.

What's the difference between a basilica and a church?

A basilica is a church building given special privileges by the Pope.

The world's four major basilicas are all in Rome, but minor basilicas can be designated anywhere in the world provided they meet certain criteria.

The basilica of St. Peter and Paul, Tennessee, says they are often named because of either their antiquity, historical value, significance as a place of worship or their architectural and artistic worth.

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