Houses of The Holy: 15 of The Most Beautiful Places of Worship Around The World
Whether you have a belief in the divine, a severe distrust in it or just don't know where you stand on the whole issue of faith, it is hard to deny that religion has inspired some of the most incredible architecture the world has seen.
Here we take a look at some of the most stunning places of worship in the world from its many different religions.
1. Borobudur, Java - Indonesia
The largest Buddhist temple on Earth is a multi-tiered structure with apex views of surrounding volcanoes on the island of Java.
The 95-foot high climb may seem like a lot of hard work, but the stunning 3,000 bas-reliefs deserve a closer look.
2. Hallgrimskirkja - Reykjavik, Iceland
A towering, white monolith that sits atop a hill which peers out over the whole of the capital city of Iceland, this cathedral looks more like a futuristic space rocket from a 50s sci-fi movie rather than a house of god but it is a unique building that took over 40 years to complete and was named after poet Reverend Hallgrimur Petersson, who wrote Iceland's most popular hymn book Passion Hymns.
What is strange is that Iceland is a predominantly atheist country and yet this cathedral is a much-loved icon of the country. You can go right to the top of the clock tower and look out over the bay as well, for a small fee.
3. Sagrada Familia - Barcelona, Spain
Not technically a cathedral but rather a very large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, it is still worthy of a mention. The sheer size and scope of this project mean that it is still under construction despite work commencing in 1882. In 1883, the famed Catalan architect took over the project and imbuing it with his own unique design and aesthetic.
Interrupted by the Spanish civil war and relying on private donations to work towards its completion, it reached a halfway stage sometime in 2010 and has an estimated completion date of 2026. Despite not being finished it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and when work on the spires is completed, it will make Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.
4. Sultan Ahmed Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey
Due to its various iterations and reincarnations as a city, Istanbul is filled with temples and churches of all religions and sects and was an important stop on the Silk Road trade route. As such, arts and trade have shaped the way the city grew and flowered, and its rich history remains sewn into its very fabric.
One of the most stunning places of worship in the city, however, is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue mosque. Constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah, and a hospice and it still functions as a mosque today.
5. Paro Taktsang - Bhutan
Sitting at an elevation of 10,240 feet in the Paro Valley of the Himalayan mountains, this sacred Buddhist temple is also known as 'The Tiger's Nest' (do tigers live in nests?) and was built in 1692 and has maintained its position on the mountain cliff ever since.
Built around a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century, he is credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan.
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