The 15 most beautiful temples in the world

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Joel Fulleda
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Il lives is a architectural structure used as place of worship. The term derives from the Latin Templum (consecrated enclosure). There are many scattered around the world. Also there Christian religion ha its temples, which are however defined churches. Of them we know the incredible beauty of the ancient domes and cathedrals of the great European cities, up to the most picturesque country churches. We have already dedicated several articles to churches in the past, for this reason you won't find any in this one top 15.

Today we will do you admire and discover the most beautiful temples in the world and you will know their link with ancient religions that are lost over the centuries, some of which are no longer present. Ready?



15 - Temple of Hephaestus, Athens, Greece

  • Religion: Ancient Greek
  • Year of construction: th century BC

The Hephaisteion, or Temple of Hephaestus, is located just above the ancient Agora. IS one of the best preserved Doric temples in the world, although less well known than the nearby Parthenon. Contrary to what often happens with ancient buildings of worship, it does not seem to have replaced any previous temple. It owns thirteen columns on the long sides (according to the canonical proportion of the Doric temple which places on the larger sides the columns in double number plus one compared to the front). Inside, the cell probably had a double colonnade that ran on the two long sides and on the bottom, acting as a scenic backdrop for the group of the two statues of Athena and Hephaestus made by Alcamene between 421 and 415, on a limestone base of Eleusis and marble reliefs. The metopes, ten on the forehead and twenty-four on the eastern part of each of the long sides, represent the labors of Heracles and the exploits of Theseus. THE friezes instead report twenty-three figures engaged in a scene of battle in the presence of six deities sitting on two groups of large rocks. A wonderful work that comes to us from the distant past.



14 - Sravanabelagola Jain Temple, Bangalore, India

  • Religion: Jainism
  • Year of construction: more than 2000 years ago

Its peculiarity is thehuge monolith of Gommateswara Bahubali, near the Vindhyagiri hill, built about 1000 years ago. It's a a very important pilgrimage destination for the faithful of Jainism (or Jainism, is an ancient Indian religion). This place è sacred for more than 2000 years and it is said that Chandragupta Maurya (founder of the homonymous dynasty) died right here in 298 BC after becoming a Jain monk and assuming a strictly ascetic lifestyle.

13 - Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia

  • Religion: Hinduism
  • Year built: 1891

A place mysterious but at the same time which reflects everything we imagine we will find in a temple HinduThis is the largest Hindu place of worship outside of India. It is not antique but has a strong vintage aura and is absolutely spectacular. Unlike in other places, taking pictures here is not considered taboo. It consists of different buildings, chapels and statues. The most interesting represents Murugan, it's completely golden and measure 42 m. It was only placed here in 2006. Surely themore suggestive environment is represented by Cave. 272 steps and some unpleasant monkeys await you, but once you have overcome these obstacles you will reach the cave-chapel. Muragan shines thanks to the sun's rays at the entrance and protects the cave as lord of Love, Wisdom and War.



12 - The Hanging Temple, Datong, China

  • Religion: Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism
  • Year of construction: 491 AD

You will find this temple-monastery literally clinging to a mountain (Mount Heng, one of the 5 sacred mountains for Chinese Taoism), 50 m above the ground. It is the only monastery in China to enclose three different religions in the same place. Almost owns 40 spaces between halls and pavilions. The Hanging Temple came originally built without the aid of wooden posts which, today, serve as support. They were added only after construction because it was said that no one at that time had the courage to enter for fear that it was unstable. In reality, the temple-monastery has never had problems and has always been safe, so much so that the poles that today seem to support it are movable and can be removed at any time. The Temple can be reached by crossing a bridge that leads to a staircase carved along the rocky wall of the mountain. The there are 6 main rooms, all connected in an intricate and ingenious way thanks to corridors, bridges and paths they offer a truly breathtaking view, creating even more the awareness of being in a suspended monastery. The interiors contain a collection of 80 statues in bronze, stone or terracotta. They all have a enormous artistic and symbolic value.

11 - Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, India

  • Religion: Buddhism
  • Year of construction: about 250 BC

This is the place where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, got enlightenment. Next to the temple stands the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi, born from the Bodhi tree (ie Illumination), the specimen of Ficus under which the Buddha was meditating when he was caught, in fact, by enlightenment. The Buddha then spent the next seven weeks in seven different places nearby meditating and pondering his experience: these seven particular points are now all places of worship in the Mahabodhi Temple.

The Buddhist emperor Ashoka he visited Bodh Gaya with the intention of building a monastery and an altar there and, for this, he had a throne of diamonds built at the supposed point of enlightenment. Mahabodhi Temple is built brick and it's the oldest structure of this genus survived in eastern India. It is considered an excellent example of Indian architecture. There central tower is high 55 meters and was extensively renovated in the th century. It is surrounded by four smaller towers, built in the same style. The Mahabodhi Temple is surrounded on all sides by stone railings, sandstone (older) and rough granite. The ancient railings feature scenes such as Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of abundance, bathing with elephants, and Surya, the Hindu sun deity, driving a chariot driven by four horses; the more recent ones, however, show figures of stupas (reliquary altars) and garuda (divine eagles); images of lotus flowers are also frequent.



10 - Gawdawpalin Temple, Bagan, Myanmar

  • Religion: Buddhism
  • Year of construction: during the reign of Narapatisithu (1174-1211)

It is the second largest temple in the area. IS' similar to Thatbyinnyu Temple, with two floors and houses various terraces. It is a structure used for the meditation, For worship the Buddha e perform sacred rituals. E ' richly decorated and has beautiful rooms with arches and vaults.

9 - Thatbyinnyu Temple, Bagan, Myanmar

  • Religion: Buddhism
  • Year of construction: XII century

Thatbyinnyu Temple (Temple of Omniscience) is a temple whose construction was begun during the reign of King Alaungsithu, around the middle of the th century. The building was erected not far from the Ananda Temple (construction of which began less than a century earlier). This temple possesses a irregular and asymmetrical cross shape. Its structure is on two floors. On the second is the main statue of Buddha. The temple reaches a maximum height of 61 meters and it is the highest in the area.

8 - Abu Simbel, Aswan Governorate, Egypt

  • Religion: ancient Egyptian cult
  • Year of construction: th dynasty of Egypt

It is a archaeological complex mainly composed of two huge rock temples carved out of the mountainside, built in the 22th century BC. They were erected to intimidate the Nubian neighbors and to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Qadesh. It was discovered on 1813 March 1 by the Swiss Johann Ludwig Burckhardt but was almost completely covered with sand and for this reason it was violated for the first time on 1817 August 1979 by the Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni. In it was recognized as Unesco World Heritage Site. Construction of the temple began in the 26th year of the reign of Ramses ii on the occasion of the second jubilee to divinize himself. Richly decorated, both outside and inside, has on the facade (33 meters high and 38 meters wide) four statues of Ramses II, each of which 20 meters high. In each one the pharaoh wears the pschent (the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt), the headdress called nemes, which descends on his shoulders, and carries the cobra on his forehead. On the sides of the colossal statues there are other smaller ones: his mother Tuya and its wife Nefertari. Between the legs are the statues of some of his children, recognizable by the childish braid on the side of the head. On the pediment of the temple there are 14 statues of baboons who, looking east, await the birth of the sun every day to adore it legend wants the queen Nefertari is dead at the entrance of the great temple (but almost certainly died before the completion of the structure).

7 - Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, New Delhi, India

  • Religion: Hinduism
  • Year built: 2005

It is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world. Akshardham means "house of the supreme god". This huge temple, or mandir, was decorated with elegantly carved columns and nine domes. Its decorations include stone elephants and statues depicting gods and personalities from Indian history. Made in pink stone and white marble, materials that symbolize purity and peace, this temple reaches a height of 43 meters and a width of 108. Given its grandeur, it is located on an area of ​​40 hectares.

6 - Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

  • Religion: Taoism
  • Year built: 1420

The Temple of Heaven, also known as the Temple of Heaven, is a complex of Taoist cultural buildings located in the southern part of Beijing. The temple was used for worship officiated by the emperor of Heaven (Tian), the main deity of traditional Chinese religion. Furthermore, the emperor was called "son of heaven", ruling both the people and the country in this capacity. The complex extends over aarea of ​​2,73 square kilometers and includes three main groups of buildings. The main points of interest are theAltar of Heaven, temple of prayer for a good harvest, courtyard of sacred music and stables of sacrificial animals. In the construction of the temple the ancient master craftsmen have shown an unparalleled skill. The imperial buildings possess above all yellow majolica tiles, symbol of imperial power; the buildings of the Temple of Heaven, on the other hand, blue tiles. In 1998 the Temple of Heaven became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

5 - Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

  • Religion: Sikh
  • Year built: 1588

It is considered by the Sikhs the most sacred temple of their religion and is a pilgrimage destination to go to at least once in your life to pray and offer your petitions. Currently the temple has become a 'tourist attraction world-class. The structure is surrounded by a small lake of water, known as Sarovar, which consists of Amrit (Holy Water). There are four entrances to the temple, symbolizing theimportance of acceptance and openness. Anyone who wants to enter can do so, regardless of religion, color, creed or gender. The only restrictions are that the person must not drink alcohol, eat meat, smoke cigarettes or other drugs while in the sanctuary. When you enter everyone must cover your head as a sign of respect and wash your feet in the small lake. Much of the current gilding and marble works date back to the early 1800s. All works in gold and marble, of exquisite workmanship, were built under the patronage of Emperor Ranjit Singh, Maharajah and important donor of wealth and materials for the sanctuary. He is remembered with great affection by the Punjabi people in general and by the Sikh community in particular.

4 - Borobudur, Indonesia

  • Religion: Mahāyāna Buddhism
  • Year of construction: between 750 and 830 AD

It is a huge temple: its base is 123 x 123 meters, its height of 35 and rests on approximately 1.600.000 colossal blocks of stone. Its walls are covered with 2672 bas-reliefs. IS il monument most visited in all of Indonesia. The choice of the place was carefully studied: the plain, in fact, simultaneously remembers several sacred places for the population (a confluence of two rivers that recalls that of the Ganges and Yumna; a mountain range that has some features very similar to the profile of the Himalayas) . After the war between the Dutch and the British for the possession of Java, the island was under British control from 1811 to 1816. Governor Thomas Stamford Raffles, a great lover of archeology and local history, learned of the legend of the temple-mountain and decided to undertake a search. The temple is highly symbolic. It is structured in 10 terraces (corresponding to the 10 stages of the spiritual journey towards perfection), divided into three groups (the three realms of saṃsāra). The entire journey is characterized by the constant and repeated presence of niches containing statues of Buddha and each is different from the others. Walking around, the devotee meditated along the successive terraces rich in progressive teachings, accumulating merits and progressively freeing himself from "worldliness", finally reaching the liberation of suffering or nirvāṇa, represented by the top of the monument.

3 - Confucius Temple, Beijing, China

  • Religion: Confucianism
  • Year built: 1032

Construction of the Confucius Temple began in 1032 and continued until 1036. The main building, decorated with yellow enamel tiles, is a symbol of the highest construction standards for the society of the time. The temple was one worthy demonstration of the status of the royal family: covers 20.000 square meters and has four separate courtyards. It owns various buildings e several pavilions. On both sides there are 198 tombstones built during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The Confucius Temple contains several wonderful collections and is famous for his stone sculptures, precious historical and cultural testimonies.

2 - Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

  • Religion: Java Hinduism
  • Year of construction: th century

A temple you don't expect to find! Is situated perched on a cliff, with the blue waters of the Indian Ocean crashing into the rocks far below. The endless expanse of the sea in front of you and the lush green forest behind you will make you feel as if you were on the far edge of the Earth. Inside the temple there are statues in traditional Balinese style e a courtyard with offerings of fresh fruit and flowers. It is a touristy but quiet place. The vista from up here truly leaves you speechless and sends a sense of serenity. The whole area is inhabited by monkeys, who love to play with tourists and steal items such as hats and sunglasses. Despite this the temple is dedicated to the spirits of the sea and is one of the oldest on the island.

1 - White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

  • Religion: Theravada Buddhism
  • Year built: 1997

A crazy and almost absurd temple. You certainly won't find such a construction anywhere else with ancient religious concepts elaborated in a modern way. It is made completely in white plaster and mirrors which, reflecting the sun, create plays of light. This has been criticized by the local populations as against the tradition of an architectural style based on vivid and gaudy colors. However, the white color is not accidental: it represents the purity of the Buddha. Surely, in addition to the extreme candor, the dozens of eager hands that will welcome you near the crossing point of the bridge that leads to the entrance will amaze and disturb you. An ocean of arts emerges from a circular basin as if they came from beyond the grave. It is an image of desire which, according to Buddhist thought, is nothing other than the primary cause of all suffering. All the sculptures and structures of the temple have a symbolic meaning which wants to bring the visitor to reflect on Buddhist teachings. The bridge leading to the entrance symbolizes the passage from the world of temptations to the reign of the Buddha and then to liberation, that is, Nirvana. But that is not all! You will find creepy old creatures (symbol of the impermanence of life), brilliant statues of Yama (god of death) and Rahu (god of darkness) who have the task of intimidating humans and deciding their fate by granting them entry into the reign of the Enlightened One or pushing them back to yet another reincarnation. Of course there are Buddha images with countless details. Inside of there is the surprise that you would never imagine to discover: the traditional paintings of Buddhist temples have been enriched here with murals representing apocalyptic scenes of the modern world, including the fall of the Twin Towers and images from space starring some of the most famous characters from movies and cartoons (Spiderman, Superman, Kung Fu Panda, Doraeimon, Neo from The Matrix, Elvis, and Michael Jackson)!


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