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San Francisco Churches

San Francisco's Churches are a Showcase of Diverse Styles of Worship


Whether you are looking for place to attend service while visiting the city or love the architecture of spiritual gathering places themselves, San Francisco will not fail to impress you. From jazzed-out gospel choirs to traditional Russian Orthodox services, Spanish colonial missions to Parisian style cathedrals, the churches of San Francisco are as eclectic as the city itself.

1. Glide Memorial Church

Image Courtesy of Glide Church
Glide is more than a church: its a movement. This progressive spiritual powerhouse is so active in building a society based on social equality that it may just be the model for the new age to come. With support from celebrities and dignitaries as diverse as poet Maya Angelou and investor Warren Buffet, Glide has built massive housing projects for the city's homeless, feeds the poor three meals a day and keeps up everything from a free health clinic and a battered women's shelter to a rooftop organic garden and beekeeping operation, all just steps from Union Square. And I haven't even told you about the music yet.
330 Ellis Street, (415)674-6000 www.glide.org

2. The National Shrine of St. Francis

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Decreed the 5th Catholic Holy Site in the world by Pope Benedict XVI, San Francisco's monument to it's namesake is also a major pilgramage site. Next to the 1860 Norman Gothic Church, which gives a Franciscan mass daily and is actually the city's second oldest church, is the La Porziuncola Nuova - a scaled replica of Saint Francis's Porziuncola in Assisi, Italy. Surrounded by North Beach's famous classic cafes and Italian restaurants, a visit to this sacred place, which also sports an on-site gift shop, is easy to add to a day of sightseeing.
610 Vallejo Street, (415)986-4557 www.shrinesf.org

3. Mission Dolores and The Mission Basilica

Image Courtesy of the San Francisco Travel Association
Mission Dolores, the site of the first Spanish colony in the area and the biggest landmark in the Mission District, is the oldest building in San Francisco. The colonial structure, which also features an ancient graveyard, is now a historical museum - focusing on early California and San Francisco. Right next door, the Cathedral-like Basilica is an architectural marvel in it's own right and serves its heavily Latin-American community with regular masses and services.
3321 16th Street, (415)621-8103 www.missiondolores.org

4. Grace Cathedral

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Sitting prettily on the top of posh Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral is a true San Francisco icon that is often compared to Paris's Notre Dame. The Episcopal church features several interesting details that are well worth the visit including the Keith Haring Interfaith AIDS Chapel, Renaissance-era bronze doors and a giant outdoor labyrinth. The church also hosts a wide variety of public programs, from talks by prominent authors to film nights in the cavernous chapel.
1100 California Street, (415)749-6300 www.gracecathedral.org

5. Saint Peter and Paul's

Image Courtesy of the San Francisco Travel Association
Facing directly out onto Washington Square Park, the verdant heart of the North Beach neighborhood, elegant Saint Peter and Paul's is perhaps the city's most photogenic Church. With daily masses in Italian, Chinese as well as English it's also a cornerstone of the area's multi-ethnic community. Several Hollywood movies, including Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry and Whoopie Goldberg's Sister Act 2 used Saint Peter and Paul's in the film.
666 Filbert Street, sspeterpaulsf.org

6. The Holy Virgin Cathedral

Image Courtesy of the San Francisco Travel Association
Located in the outer stretches of the Richmond District, just before the city gives way to the open Pacific Ocean and the dramatic cliffs of Land's End, lies one of San Francisco's most overlooked architectural and cultural marvels. The Holy Virgin Cathedral is the headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church on America's west coast. Inside the palatial cathedral, frescoes and a wide array of Orthodox artifacts await.
6210 Geary Boulevard, (415) 221-3255 sfsobor.com
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