Who does not love wandering around an old cathedral gazing at the art and architecture? Most iconic cathedrals in Europe were erected during the Gothic period when the flying buttress made those pointed oval shapes we associate with them possible. People love getting tattoos of Cathedrals for a number of reasons. For some, it can be a symbol of faith. For others, it is merely an aesthetic they enjoy. Whatever the reason, cathedral tattoos are some of the most intricate out there!
We decided to take a deep dive into the world of cathedral tattoos to discover what sorts of trends are artists creating with the subject matter. As you might expect, people who love gothic architecture are not afraid of a little darkness. For every 20 black ink cathedral tattoos we saw, we found about 1 artist who employed colorful ink. There are some cheerful examples on this tattoo list, but be prepared for many somber and even spooky tattoos! Here are 25 architecturally inspired Gothic cathedral tattoos for you to enjoy!
25. Floating Cathedral
While we did encounter plenty of portraits of cathedrals as we looked through hundreds of cathedral tattoos, many did cross into the abstract territory. We found creative designs that incorporate the architectural features of cathedrals used to create wholly original designs like this one.
24. Duplicate Cathedrals
Here are more straightforward cathedral portraits. This is one of the sharpest tattoos we found for this list. Take a look at how fine and straight those lines are. We are talking about some considerable skill from the artist who managed to pull this off not once, but twice.
23. Upside Down
A popular destination for a cathedral tattoo seems to be the back of the neck. We saw many tattoos placed up into the hairline that extend down the neck to the shoulders. In fact, this one will not be the last one we show.
22. Staned Glass
Stained glass has inspired followers for centuries to see the light. This person has gone with a maroon vibe and incorporated hearts into the panes. You will also see a couple of butterflies floating around for good measure. This was a choice! What do you think of it?
21. Approaching Abstract
As promised, here’s another example of an evocative tattoo placed on the back of the neck and onto the back of the head. This abstract design incorporates the elements you will find in a gothic cathedral to build an entirely new reality with the pieces.
20. Rose Windows
Rose windows are a common feature in many European cathedrals and found in many built later in the US. Here, we find two rose window tattoos that match each other. Check out all of the tiny dots that have been used to shade the design and give it life.
We were not kidding when we said gothic, right? Here we find an upside-down spire being surrounded by glowing red bats. Overall, this tattoo looks very neat and well done. And, they managed to make both legs look equally fantastic.
18. From Timisoara, Romania
This is a study of a cathedral found in Romania. We love the modesty of this design that is not burdened with a ton of intricate detail. That’s not to say this design is plain! We love how light it feels in comparison to the others on this list.
17. Got Your Back
Cathedral meets kaleidoscope in this trippy full-back tattoo. A swirling mass of stone and glass makes for a truly remarkable design that draws your eye to a pinnacle between the shoulder blades.
16. From The Red Square
We saw many, many, tattoos of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. We would venture to guess there were an equal number of tattoos featuring this iconic cathedral with Notre-Dame in Paris. We love the addition of the crescent moon that holds this simple but fun design.
These marvelous, intricate, leg tattoos are full of detail a play with aspect and situation. Dizzying for sure, we were very impressed with these two tattoos that seem to capture almost every remarkable design feature you will find in a typical cathedral.
Here we find a very stylized interpretation of a cathedral with flames seeming to form a border around the building as it is consumed in smoke and fire. The person who shared this image on Instagram did not comment on if it is a specific cathedral fire like the one we saw in Paris in 2019.
13. Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, France
This tattoo manages to look more like a graphite drawing on paper than what you typically find in ink on skin. We enjoy the flourish of the border created to mimic the French cathedral’s design. Take a close look at all of those dots. There must be a million used to complete this stunning piece.
12. Cathedral Dream
Backs of legs are also popular locations for tattoos in this genre as they offer the ability to stretch the design’s towers and spires to the max. We find rose window circles meeting the facade of two cathedrals in the repeated design. It’s a very bold and dark look!
We find a Cathedral that has seen better days in this design. The tattoo artist shared that the ruins aspect is supposed to represent the future and how all great things crumble. An interesting proposition for sure. But, this ink will likely be on this body for a very long time.
10. Dark Souls Inspired
The artist who shared this picture of a massive cathedral tattoo explained that it was inspired by the RPG Dark Souls. We do not get the reference, but we did enjoy the bluish-gray inks used to give this tattoo a unique look.
9. Salisbury Cathedral
This person clearly had a beloved local cathedral in mind when they commissioned this tattoo of a cathedral in Salisbury. We, honestly, needed a little color so we thought we’d offer you this sweet cathedral in a heart.
We find a red-eyed face peering out from between architectural elements that are indicative of Gothic architecture. Slightly creepy but completely original, this tattoo radiates passion with its red and black inks.
Do you ever get lost staring into really intricate pieces of decor and architecture? This half-sleeve tattoo design looks like a swirling maze of Gothic features. It’s turning out to be very tidy with a touch of drama from the aggressive shading.
6. Toe the Toes
Created using some very unconventional shapes, this tattoo extends from the ankle all the way to the toes. It has a smokey, organic quality to it. Points for originality!
Have you ever seen a ghost cathedral? Like many of these tattoos, this design leans into fantasy. We find a cathedral seeming to melt or evaporate from this person’s skin. The detail on the spires is truly remarkable.
4. St. Basil’s
We told you we saw a lot of this Cathedral in Moscow. It’s distinct, domed spires are unmistakable. We find the structure floating on a cloud with a king and a skull staring at each other. We definitely feel storybook vibes from this tattoo.
3. Moon Church
This huge tattoo that covers half this person’s torso is the result of many, many sessions. Tattoos of this size and detail take a ton of time and the commitment from the patron and the tattoo artist was there on both sides! A cathedral looks like it is being swallowed by waves. This is a one-of-a-kind design with a signature style making it a truly authentic design.
We needed a pop of color again! Here’s a hexagon that’s filled with beautiful pastel ink. We love the choice of colors and how each seems to compliment each other for a truly balanced and fun interpretation. This certainly reminds us of Van Gogh.
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1. St. Canice’s Cathedral
We leave you with this micro tattoo gem of St. Canice’s Cathedral in Ireland. This cute little portrait of the treasure of Kilkenny is a great size for someone who is not looking for a huge commitment. We love tattoos of actual places as they act as a sort of memento that you can take with you wherever you go.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed these cathedral tattoos in varying styles. Architectural elements are the stars of each of the designs that highlight people’s deep love and appreciation for the style of architecture and the building themselves. We hope you feel inspired to get your own tattoos and will consider getting a place you love as one!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Floating Cathedral
- 2 24. Duplicate Cathedrals
- 3 23. Upside Down
- 4 22. Staned Glass
- 5 21. Approaching Abstract
- 6 20. Rose Windows
- 7 19. Haunted
- 8 18. From Timisoara, Romania
- 9 17. Got Your Back
- 10 16. From The Red Square
- 11 15. Intricate
- 12 14. Moody
- 13 13. Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy, France
- 14 12. Cathedral Dream
- 15 11. Ruins
- 16 10. Dark Souls Inspired
- 17 9. Salisbury Cathedral
- 18 8. Façade
- 19 7. Hypnotic
- 20 6. Toe the Toes
- 21 5. Melt
- 22 4. St. Basil’s
- 23 3. Moon Church
- 24 2. Cologne
- 25 1. St. Canice’s Cathedral
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