Grab Your Camera: Picturesque Churches of the Texas Hill Country

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Tony Maples Photography


Whether you regularly attend a church or any house of worship, you cannot deny that the architecture of many of these buildings astounds the eye. These range from massive cathedrals to tiny town churches. But don’t let looks deceive you. Some of the humblest churches have fantastic ornamentation inside, and even modest buildings are infused with decades of history. Add these places to your next road trip if you love architecture or just picturesque locations.

1. Zion Lutheran Church – Fredericksburg

Picturesque Churches Zion Lutheran Church Fredericksburg

Photo: Facebook/Churches of Texas

Back in 1854, builders set the cornerstone of the oldest Lutheran church in the Texas Hill Country, Zion Lutheran Church. When you see this church, you’re looking at history. The church still stands today, though its growing congregation has required multiple improvements to the facility. Though the church does not offer tours, it is a part of the annual Christmas-season Church to Church Walk, and, like all churches, they always welcome visitors to the Sunday services.

2. Cathedral of San Fernando – San Antonio

San Fernando Cathedral San Antonio

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sometime between 1738 and 1750, the Spanish built the walls of what is today known as the San Fernando Cathedral or the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe. Located on the Main Plaza in downtown San Antonio, this is one of the easiest of the historic churches to find. This highly active church still flourishes today, with multiple services on Sundays, but it has its roots deep in Texas history. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find a common tomb for the remains of Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William B. Travis, who all died at the Alamo. Its age and heritage have earned this cathedral a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. History buffs must see this house of worship when in San Antonio.

3. Saint Mary’s Catholic Church – Fredericksburg

Saint Mary's Church Fredericksburg

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hill Country residents and visitors can easily visit Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Fredericksburg without leaving the region while still touring a historic landmark. After the 9 a.m. mass, take a short, guided tour of the church. You’ll see carefully painted images on the inside, giving this church its classification as a painted church. Artists even adorned the pipes of the organ and the ceiling. Marienkirche, which some call Old Saint Mary’s, sits nearby. Though smaller, and older, this former church once served the congregation of Saint Mary’s until 1906. In that year, construction finished on the current church, and the people moved to worship in the larger center. Since then, Marienkirche has served the community in various capacities, including once as a school.

4. Radha Madhav Dham – Austin

Radha Madhav Dham Hindu Temple in Austin

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Though technically not a church, Radha Madhav Dham is a place of worship. This complex includes the Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Hindu temple, which ranks as one of the largest in the country. You might not believe this vast complex hides just to the south of Austin. When you visit, don’t miss the peacocks that wander the grounds, but the architecture of the buildings is the main star. It combines influences from ancient and modern styles and draws inspiration from both the north and south of India. Visiting this temple lets you see architecture that you will not find elsewhere in the Hill Country. Don’t miss a trip here if you’d like to see a bit of India without leaving Texas.

5. St Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Church – San Antonio

St Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Church San Antonio

Photo: Facebook/Hope Sanchez Garza

Though its lines are simple, St. Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Church in San Antonio remains an architectural wonder. The spectacular, sweeping view of the Texas Hill Country outside the front windows of the nave make this church stand apart. From the pews, many feel the church sits near the heavens, giving this building its nickname of “church in the clouds.” When visiting, please respect this active church and its members as it does not officially offer tours of the building.