Believers or not, it is undeniable that religion always has played a fundamental role in human history, leaving an important imprint on all civilizations. Just think of the great Roman temples, the Greek gods, the Egyptian culture or the great Hindu and Buddhist temples. And, despite the passing of the years, in some cases even millennia, today we are still lucky enough to be able to admire and visit some of the largest temples ever built!
Are you ready to leave with us? Let's find out together which are the 10 largest temples in the world!
- Baalbek Temple, Baalbek (Lebanon)
- Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai (India)
- Brihadeeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, (India)
- Tikal Temple IV, Tikal (Guatemala)
- Jetavanaramaya, Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)
- Sri Ranganathaswamy, Tamil Nadu (India)
- Akshardham Temple, New Delhi (India)
- Borobudur, Mageland (Central Java)
- Karnak, Luxor (Egypt)
- Angkor Wat, Siem Reap (Cambodia)
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10 - Baalbek Temple, Baalbek (Lebanon)
Let's start this ranking by discovering the Baalbek Temple, in the homonymous city. We are located in Lebanon, about 65 km from the capital Beirut, not very far from the border with Syria. It is one of most important archaeological sites throughout the Middle East, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
The history of the city is very ancient, the first settlements date back to 2000 BC, when it was inhabited by the Canaanites. But the remains that can be admired today date back to Roman times of Baalbek, more precisely to 42 BC, when Caesar ordered the construction of the three great temples, built in honor of the great Roman gods. The largest is dedicated to Jupiter, then there are those of Bacchus and Venus. What is immediately striking are the foundations of these temples, made up of huge monoliths practically impossible to move. For years, researchers have been looking for a solution to this conundrum.
9 - Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai (India)
We move to the discovery of oldest city in southern India, the city of Madurai, in the state of Tamil Nadu. Here is the temple of Meenakshi Amman, located right in the center of the city and which extends for 180.000 square meters! This temple is there maximum expression of Dravidian culture, a population that settled in this part of India 6000-5000 years ago.
The temple that we can admire today is unfortunately not quite the original one. It was in fact rebuilt between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries as in the thirteenth it was seriously damaged and sacked due to the attack of the army of the sultan of Delhi. IS' dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort Shiva, referred to here as Sundareswarar.
8 - Brihadeeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, (India)
We always stay in India, just 170 km north of Madurai. Here is the city of Tamil Nadu, the capital of the federal state of the same name in the south of the country. In the small town of Thanjavur we can visit the Brihadeeswarar Temple, also called Rajarajesvaram or Peruvudaiyār Kōvil. It is about a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and it is one of the largest temples in all of South India, with an extension of 180.700 square meters.
Brihadeeswarar is the best architectural expression of the Chola dynasty period and is made up of a series of temples. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest temple is the Big Temple, inside which it is located in the sacred area one of the largest statues of the Nandi bull, the white bull that represents the mythical mount of Shiva.
7 - Tikal Temple IV, Tikal (Guatemala)
From India we now pass to Central America, to Guatemala to be precise. Here is the Tikal Temple IV, inside the Parque Nacional Tikal, la larger than the ancient cities of the Maya civilization, whose construction began from 900 BC. The park is in turn located in the Reserva de Biosfera Maya, which reaches the borders with Belize and Mexico.
Within the Tikal complex, the Tikal Temple IV is the greatest of all. Its construction dates back to 741 BC and its height reaches 64,6 meters. It is a Mesoamerican pyramid located in the western corner of the complex. It was built during the reign of the 27th king of the Tikal dynasty, aka Yik'in Chan K'awiil, and many archeologists and historians think that his yet undiscovered tomb is somewhere just below this temple.
6 - Jetavanaramaya, Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka)
Let's go back to Asia, this time to Sri Lanka, the island state near the southern coast of India. Here is the Jetavanaramaya Temple, located in the locality of Anuradhapura, in the northern part of the island. This is the largest stupa in the world! It is in fact 122 meters high and has a base of 233.000 square meters. A stupa is a Buddhist monument whose main function is to preserve relics.
The relic kept in the Jetavanaramaya stupa of Anuradhapura is the belt that belonged to the Buddha! For its construction, which took place from the third century BC at the behest of King Mahasena and then completed by his son Maghavan I, it is assumed that approximately 93 million bricks were used. Only the dome has a diameter of about 95 meters.
5 - Sri Ranganathaswamy, Tamil Nadu (India)
Let's go back to India, again in the city of Tamil Nadu, in Tiruchirappalli. Here there is in fact another majestic and incredible complex, the Sri Ranganathaswamy, which extends for 620.000 square meters. This shrine, also called Thiruvarangam, is dedicated to Ranganatha, which is a reclined form of the deity Maha Vishnu.
It is one of the most important Vishnu temples in all of India. It is in fact half of a pilgrimage, it holds the role of the first of the eight manifest shrines of the god Vishnu. The whole complex has 39 large pavilions, also called mandapam halls, as well as 7 prakaram (wall enclosures), 21 gopuram (monumental towers) and 81 sanctuaries.
4 - Akshardham Temple, New Delhi (India)
In New Delhi is located the more modern temple of the ranking, was in fact built between 2000 and 2005 by about 3.000 volunteers. We are talking about the Akshardham Temple, also called the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex, as in addition to being a Hindu temple it is a real spiritual and cultural campus.
The Akshardham Temple complex is made up of several parts and in the center is the Mandir, built in pink sandstone and marble and is 43 meters high and 98 meters long. This is the spiritual center as well anyone is allowedreligion doesn't matter. But that's not all: here in the complex you will find exhibitions, a theater, a beautiful fountain that lights up at night, lots of statues and enchanting gardens!
3 - Borobudur, Mageland (Central Java)
This declared temple is located on the island of Central Java, in the locality of Mageland UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. It is a Buddhist temple was built in 800 AD during the Sailendra dynasty and is really huge: it has a square base of 123 meters per side and a height of 35 meters. The stones used to build it are more than a million and a half!
And the Indonesia's most visited monument and it looks like a mountain! It is in fact composed of several terraces and you climb to the top along the long stairways. These stairways represent the ascension of the person and his human soul that the closer he gets to the top the more he reaches the purity of the spirit. The whole time is covered with bas-reliefs and at the top you will find several bell-shaped stupas and Buddha statues.
2 - Karnak, Luxor (Egypt)
The Karnak temple complex is one of the most visited attractions of Egypt, is located in the city of Luxor and was built for the Egyptian gods Amun, Mut (the wife) and Khons (the son of the two gods). Here you can visit many temples, but the largest is the Great Hypostyle Hall: the great hypostyle hall, that is a room where instead of the walls there are the columns to support the roof, of the Luxor complex.
This area alone covers 5.000 square meters. Unfortunately, the ceiling is no longer present, but there are still the 134 huge columns arranged in 16 rows. The tallest columns, or those of the central rows, even reach 26 meters, with a circumference of 11 meters!
1 - Angkor Wat, Siem Reap (Cambodia)
And here we are atlives
largest in the world, Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Besides being the main attraction of the country it is has also become its symbol! It is located north of the city, in the northern part of the country. Besides being the largest, it is also most visited archaeological complex in Southeast Asia! It covers an area of 1.626.000 square meters and was built during the Khmer Empire, one of the longest empires in this area, at the behest of King Suryavarman II.
Obviously declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance and its history, Angkor Wat is the most important temple of the entire archaeological site, as well as being the best preserved in the whole area. There are various hypotheses about its ancient function: it was probably built as a mausoleum, as it is directed towards the west and the door on the western side is a typical feature of funerary buildings.
Little advice: keep in mind that to visit the whole area it would take 5 days, if you have less time plan your itinerary well!