Explore Columbus, Ohio’s Historic Churches, Cathedrals and Temples

Columbus, Ohio was founded in 1812 at the confluence of the Scioto and Olentangy rivers. This capital city has numerous places of worship and unique attractions that religious group travelers will enjoy exploring.

Religious Attractions and Churches in Columbus

The Broad Street United Methodist Church

The Broad Street United Methodist Church

Broad Street United Methodist Church, established in 1875, outgrew its three-room building and built a High Victorian Gothic-style church in 1885. The church has art-glass windows, towers and a green serpentine stone facing on brick walls. President William McKinley and his family worshipped there when he served as governor of Ohio; the church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for this reason.

Holy Cross was built on the site of Columbus’ first Catholic church, St. Remigius, which was consecrated in 1838. St. Remigius was torn down because it failed to accommodate Columbus’ growing Catholic population. Holy Cross Catholic Church, Columbus’ oldest church, was built in its place and consecrated in 1848. Holy Cross helped establish the parishes of St. Patrick Church and St. Mary Church in Columbus.

Holy Cross Catholic Church

Holy Cross Catholic Church

St. Joseph Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Sylvester H. Rosecrans was named First Bishop of Columbus in 1868 and immediately worked to finish the construction of St. Joseph, which was consecrated 10 years later. The cathedral is a Gothic-style stone building with stained-glass windows and arches, columns and pedestals for support.

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral is a Byzantine-style church in Columbus. The church was chartered in 1910, when about 30 Greek families lived in the area. The original cathedral was not constructed until 1922. A new cathedral complex built in 1990 includes a banquet hall and the original chapel. Guided tours are available. The cathedral’s Greek Festival, with activities, exhibits, music, pastries and shops, celebrates Greek heritage every Labor Day weekend.

Greek Orthodox Church at Night

Greek Orthodox Church at Night

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finished its 60th temple in Columbus in 1999. The temple is made of marble and has art-glass windows. The first Mormon temple was built in Kirtland, Ohio but was used less frequently when Joseph Smith and his followers fled the state in 1838.

Columbus’ oldest synagogue is Temple Israel. The congregation has existed since the 1830s. The current temple was dedicated in 1959 and renovated in 1996. It includes stained-glass windows and sconces from the Bryden Road Temple (a former Columbus temple built in 1904).

Columbus’ Tourist Attractions

The Columbus Museum of Art specializes in late 19th and early 20th century American and European Modernist art. Collections include prime examples of Cubism, Impressionism and Expressionism. The museum has over 10,000 pieces of artwork and an outdoor sculpture gallery.

The Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art

The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is a nationally renowned science museum with over 300 interactive exhibits. Themed exhibit areas include Dinosaurs, Gadgets, Life, Lily Pad, Ocean, Progress and Space. The science center offers live shows like the Electrostatic Generator Show and has a seven-story Extreme Screen Movie Theater.

Be sure to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in nearby Powell, Ohio. The zoo exhibits over 700 species of animals from Asia, North America, Africa and Australia. Other areas in the zoo are the Discovery Reef, Manatee Coast, Pachyderms, Polar Frontier and Reptile House. The zoo features rides at Jungle Jack’s Landing, Safari Golf Club and Zoombezi Bay Water Park.

Franklin Park Conservatory is an educational and horticultural facility surrounded by botanical gardens. Visitors can explore the collection of over 400 plant species in climate-controlled exhibits such as the Himalayan Mountains, tropical rainforest, desert and Pacific Island water garden and cloud forest. The Victorian Palm House, a must see, has over 40 palm species. Other collections include bonsais and orchids.

Franklin Park Conservatory

Franklin Park Conservatory

Learn about Ohio’s history at Ohio Historical Center’s museum. Permanent and temporary exhibits explore Ohio’s history from pre-historic times through the space age, including highlights on Ohio’s animals, architecture, climate, geography, geology and plants.

See a to-scale replica of the Santa Maria along the Scioto Riverfront. This was Christopher Columbus’ flagship when he discovered America. Take a 45-minute tour with costumed guides to learn about Columbus’ voyage.

Columbus Events and Festivals

Ohio State Fair

Ohio State Fair, courtesy of Randall L. Schieber and ExperienceColumbus.com

The Columbus Arts Festival, held every June, features music, dance and theater performances, arts and crafts and food. Also in June is the Haus und Garten Tour where renovated homes in German Village can be seen through a guided walking tour. See Independence Day fireworks and enjoy food and live music at the Red, White and Boom celebration in July. The Jazz and Rib Fest is held at the riverfront later in July. If you are in Columbus in August, make sure to stop by the Ohio State Fair.

Other events are German Village Oktoberfest (September), Columbus International Festival (November) and First Night Columbus (Dec. 31).

The possibilities are endless when religious groups visit Columbus. The religious sites will attract faith-based travelers, and the attractions  and events will ensure an enjoyable and memorable trip.