Throughout the history of the world, civilizations have erected temples and religious monuments to honor their gods and goddesses. These buildings can be found on every continent. Many are magnificent structures that can be considered wonders of the world, and all inspire awe. What follows is a brief description of some of the more famous and interesting religious monuments.
The largest temple in the world is Angkor Wat, located in Angkor, Cambodia. Built during the 12th century in honour of King Suryayarman II, the temple has a square base and five towers that reach toward the heavens. Fascinating wall carvings and bas reliefs tell stories about the mythologies of the time and about the king’s reign. Visitors probably need to spend more than one day there due to its size and popularity, so it’s well worth booking a tour of the area.
Ancient Rome was very proud of its accomplishments, and the Pantheon was built as a temple to honour all of its gods and goddesses. Originally built around 27 BCE, its circular design has influenced the architecture of many other famous buildings throughout the world. Elaborate paintings, sculptures, and statues can be viewed there. Since the Renaissance, the temple has served as a tomb and is now considered a Christian church.
Herod the Great began construction of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel around 20 BC. A rectangular building standing on about 35 acres, the Temple Mount is the most important religious site in Old Jerusalem and is cherished by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Throughout its history, the temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is a massive structure dating back to approximately 2560 BC; it is the oldest and largest of all of the pyramids. Built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu, it contains separate chambers, one each for the queen and the king. Historians believe it was built over a 20 year period and constructed with over two million blocks of limestone and nearly eight thousand tons of granite! It’s possible to visit the temples from various locations in Egypt, so why not combine your visit with a beach holiday.
Egypt is also the site of the largest ancient temple complex in the world, known as Karnak. Located in Thebes, this incredible open-air museum complex contains several precincts devoted to different gods and goddesses. The largest section is a temple honouring Amun, one of the chief gods of ancient Thebes. The complex contains a sacred lake, sphinxes, massive columns, and open courts along with chapels and smaller palaces.
Some other notable temples and religious monuments are Buddhist and Hindu temples in Eastern Asia and India, Mayan temples in Central America, and churches throughout Europe. All are impressive testaments to man’s ingenuity and desire to honor his gods and goddesses.