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What is the largest temple ever built on earth and do these man-made structures reveal secrets relating to the cosmos? To begin the quest for the largest religious temple, one needs to establish what exactly a temple actually is. In ancient Greece a temple was a delineated space where rituals were performed, but today the word is generally used to describe not a sacred space, but structures reserved for religious and spiritual activities. However, not every religion uses the word ‘temple’. Western Christian traditions call their holy spaces churches, chapels and cathedrals and true temples are mainly found in Eastern and South American cultures.
Largest Stone Blocks: Baalbek
Also called Heliopolis (Sun city) or Baalbek, the vast and impressive archaeological site located in northeastern Lebanon is home to two of the largest temples in the ancient world. The hilltop of Tell Baalbek has been continually occupied over the last 8,000 to 9,000 years and at the beginning of the first century BC a mega-structure was raised, that took Roman builders over two centuries to complete; three temples dedicated to Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus covering over seven square kilometers (2.70 square miles).
Baalbek temple complex boasts two of the largest Roman temple ruins: The Temple of Bacchus, as shown in this photograph and the Temple of Jupiter. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The first two are the largest temples in the empire with the Temple of Jupiter boasting 54 enormous granite columns extending into the sky and the Temple of Bacchus was built in 150 AD measuring 69 meters by 36 meters ( 226 feet by 118 feet) with 42 Corinthian columns measuring 19 meters (62 feet) high. This site is also home to the largest building blocks on earth, with the largest single stone from the ancient world which was found underneath and next to a stone known as the ‘Stone of the Pregnant Woman’ ("Hajjar al-Hibla"). It measures around 19.6 meters by six meters by five and a half meters (64 feet by 20 feet by 18 feet) and is estimated to weigh about 1,650 tonnes (1,820 tons).
In the summer of 2014, a team from the German Archaeological Institute led by Jeanine Abdul Massih of the Lebanese University discovered what is known as the world's largest ancient block. ( Public Domain)
The most expansive Mayan city which is now in modern-day Guatemala was Tikal, a vast jungle habitation which prospered between 200 to 900 AD with an estimated 200,000 inhabitants.
List of 10 Most Impressive Tombs, Mausoleums and Burial Sites
The Tomb of Agamemnon, also known as the Treasury of Atreus is one of the finest (surviving) examples of the so-called tholos or beehive tombs. It was built on a hill near Mycenae around 1250 BC but it is thought to have nothing to do with Agamemnon, the Mycenaean King who led the Greeks to the siege of Troy nor Atreus, the mythological father of the former. But regardless for whom it was built and whether or not it contained treasures as implied by the ancient Greek writings, the Tomb of Agamemnon is one of the most spectacular surviving monuments from the period of Mycenaean Greece (ca. 1600 BC – 1100 BC) and as mentioned earlier, of the tholos tombs which were also built by other ancient cultures in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Top 10 Most Amazing Temples In The World
People started to building the temples from ancient times onwards. These houses of worship not at all belong to a single religion, varies as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. So different temples have different architectural styles and systems. Followings are 10 most amazing temples in the world.
10 Jetavanaramaya, Sri Lanka
This stupa located in the sacred city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This stupa have high significance in the country as it represents Buddhist monks of Theravada and Mahayana, oldest surviving branch of Buddhism.
Jetavanaramaya was third highest building of ancient world, have height of 400 feet. This stupa was built in 4th century by the king Mahasena, 93 million baked bricks were used for it’s construction. The entire compound covers an area of 5.6 hectares, contains 10000 Buddhist monks.
9 Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, India
This temple is one of the most important vishnu temples in the world, located in Tamilnadu, India. This temple actually dedicated for one of form of lord Vishnu. It is the largest temple in the country, built across an area of 156 acres.
Dravidian style of architecture was used for it’s construction. There are 21 different towers are within the temple, main gopura, or tower is entirely made of gold. One of tower within temple have height of 236 feet, painted with different colors.
8 Temple of heaven, China
The temple of heaven in China actually built to honor the Sky, situated in the city of Beijing. This large complex of ancient temple covering an area of 2.7 million square meters, one of largest ancient temple in China. The temple have a circular wall to represent the heaven and also have rectangular wall for representing the Earth.
This design of temple shows the heaven is much higher than that of Earth. This temple complex wad built between 1406-1420 by Ming Dynasty. It is also listed on UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
7 Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Shwedagon pagoda one of most popular temples in Asia as it contains eight pieces of hairs from Buddha, situated in Yangon, Myanmar. The temple was constructed 2600 years ago, in the period of Buddha. Taphussa and Bhalika the builders of this temple got chance to met lord Buddha in BC 588, shortly after he got enlightenment.
Buddha gave them his eight hairs, they brought back the hairs to Yangon and built first part of Shwedagon pagoda. The temple was covered with many golden plates and top parts are decorated with thousands of diamonds. It also contains many stupas and statues that reflects architectural style from the era of Buddha.
6 Prambanan, Indonesia
Prambanan Hindu structure contains three main buildings dedicated for Trimurtis, to Gods of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Shiva temple is the highest one among them and situated in the center. Each of those temples have numbers of rooms and main room contains statue of respective God.
It was built in 10th century and used typical Hindu architecture for the construction. There are 240 temples standing in the complex of Prambanan, 3 trimurtis temples, 3 Vahana temples, 2 Apit temples, 2 Kelir temples, 4 Patok temples and 224 Pervara temples.
5 Tigers Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Tigers nest monastery is one of most sacred places in Bhutan, situated in high cliffs of Paro valleys. the exact place where Guru Padmasambhava, second Buddha meditated for long time. This Sage Guru was one who introduced Buddhism in Tibet.
This cultural icon of Tibet built in 1692, 3000 meter above sea levels. Visitors have to make hours of trek to reach this place. There is also a festival known as Tsechu held in Paro valley to honor the second Buddha.
4 Borobudur, Indonesia
Borobudur is one of the biggest Buddhist monuments in the world, located in central Java of Indonesia. The temple have a lotus flower like structure, surrounded by an ancient lake, to representing the birth of lord Buddha. It was built in 8th century using 2 millions of volcanic stones.
This temple was abandoned for thousands of years by the eruption of Merapi volcano and rediscovered in the year 1814. Hundreds of Buddha statues also discovered from here. There are also 100 gutters in the shape of elephant headed fish known as ‘maraka’, one of finest attraction of Borobudur.
3 Golden Temple, India
It is found as most sacred place for worship for Sikhs, located in Punjab, India. This temple was mainly made of marble and plated with pure gold. The holiest text of Sikh religion the Guru Granth Sahib also kept inside of golden temple.
It was built in 1604 by Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru. The golden temple have entrances in all four sides, represents people from all parts of the world welcomed here. Everyday more than 35000 of people fed for free in Golden temple.
2 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor wat is the largest religious monument in the world. This most popular religious site situated in Angkor of Cambodia. It spread across an area of 401 acres and complex have height of 700 feet. It was built in 12th century by emperor Suryavarman II as a temple dedicated for lord Vishnu.
In following centuries temple faced many destruction and restored by Khmer empire and fix status as a Buddhist temple. The top of temples was beautifully designed through Khmer architecture. Unlike other temples Angkor Wat faces West, also have countless sculptural decorations.
Famous Churches In The World
1. Sagrada Familia
This Church located in Barcelona, Spain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a Roman Catholic Church planned by architect Antoni Gaudí and its construction began in 1882. However, it remains incomplete until today. This is mainly because of its gigantic size which means that in the time taken to complete building the original plan, the earliest construction would need to be renovated and this process would never end. We have also covered about largest Hindu temples around the world. It is estimated that a tour of the whole church would take about a week.
Gaudi’s work was mostly inspired by nature and evidence can be seen in the columns inside the Sagrada Familia that are built to look like trees with twisting branches. There is a turtle at the base and another one is the tortoise which symbolizes the balance between sea and land in nature. The mosaic located at the roof of the church was well designed to guide seamen back home by reflecting the moonlight and hence turning it into a kind of lighthouse.
2. Saint Basil’s Cathedral
This famous church is located in Moscow, the capital of Russia and marks the exact center of the city. It was completed in 1561 under the reign of Ivan the Terrible and has a very colorful architecture unusual for a church. Like the Sagrada Familia, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is perhaps one of the most famous Churches in the world because it appears in many movies. We have also listed beautiful castles Built Around the World.
One of the most famous churches, Saint Basil’s Cathedral consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation and interior is a maze of galleries winding from the chapel to chapel equipped with narrow stairways and low arches. The wall was decorated with floral and geometric patterns. The color and shape of the Saint Basil’s Cathedral are truly amazing and unmatched across the globe. The Saint Basil the Blessed can be visited in his chapel on the lower floor where he is placed in the silver casket in gaudy splendor.
3. Notre Dame de Paris
This church, also called the Notre Dame Cathedral is located in central Paris and was built over more than a century in the medieval period. The architecture of the church reflects the traditional medieval style in the form of columns, spires, and statuary. It is one of the major tourist attractions of France and continues to inspire artists and architects. History has many symbols, here are a few beautiful castles built around the world.
The cathedral was built between 1163 and 1345 and listed as one of the largest religious buildings in the world. One of the famous churches in the world was designed in Gothic fashion with its twin towers go as high as 69 meters and have 387 steps. It has numerous statues outside walls of Notre Dame and the interior of the church looks astonishing. The south tower of the church is home to Notre Dame’s largest bell that weighs around 13 tons and popularly known as the Emmanuel Bell.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
This Roman Catholic Church is the seat of Papal power and is located in Vatican City, an enclave in Italy. This church was designed at the height of the Renaissance by the famous artist Michelangelo and has the tallest dome in the world measuring more than 136 meters. It has become the most famous church in the Vatican and one of the most popular tourist sites in Europe. This is the largest church in the world with an internal area of 15160 square meters that stretches over 186 meters in length.
The largest Basilica of Christianity has a capacity of 60,000 people and there are many architects who have worked on the design of one of the most famous churches in the world that includes Donato Bramante, Raphael, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, Giacomo Della Porta, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. One of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture is considered to be the holiest Catholic shrines and “greatest of all churches of Christendom”.
5. Westminster Abbey
This famous church is situated in London and is one of the iconic buildings in the country. It was built in the 10th century and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Thames River and Westminster Palace are both located near the Abbey and the Gothic architecture draws many tourists each year. The Westminster Abbey is also the place for the burial and coronation of the royal family and national heroes so have special significance as a structure of national importance.
The Gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster officially known as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster. The construction has been started by Henry III in 1245 and later declared as one of the most important Gothic buildings in the country. Later, the church has been expanded by the Chapel of Henry VII was added between 1503 and 1512. It has two western towers were built between 1722 and 1745 by Nicholas Hawksmoor and it was constructed from the Portland stone to an early example of a Gothic Revival design.
6. St Paul’s Cathedral
The next famous church is also located in London, on top of a hill – the highest point in London. It is the seat of the Bishop of the Church of England. The church in its current form was built in the 17th century through its predecessor, the earlier St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 604 AD.
One of the oldest and famous churches in England, St Paul’s Cathedral has one of the largest domes in the world. It measures around 112m and has numerous steps in it. The most visited area of the church is its whispering gallery that has an astonishing avant-garde design. The artist’s masterpiece has many pieces of artwork that are dated back to the Victorian Era to modern-day works. The iconic building is a source of inspiration for many movies that include Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, and Thor.
7. Church of the Nativity
This Basilica is located in Bethlehem, Palestine and is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. One of the Famous Churches around the world. Its construction was started by Constantine in 327AD and today it is UNESCO World Heritage Site. This church, however, does not see many tourists because of the ongoing conflict in Palestine, but some believe the truly devout worshippers are protected from all danger by divine power.
The basilica was completed by the Roman emperor, Constantine in 333, however, the church was destroyed in a Samaritan revolt in 529 and rebuilt in 565. There is a small door of Humility that stands at the entrance to the basilica and it forces people to bend over while passing through the door. The structure of the site is a combination of two churches and a crypt beneath.
8. Church of the Holy Sepulchre
This church is also called the Church of Resurrection because it is believed to have been built on the land where Jesus was crucified and then resurrected. It is located in the Old City within Jerusalem in Israel and was built by the first generation of Christians in the world. It is one of the holiest sites for Christians and has been worshipped since the 4th century.
Additionally known as Church of the Resurrection or Church of the Anastasis it contains two holiest sites in Christianity, one site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified known as “Calvary” in Latin and “Golgotha” in Greek and the other one is Jesus’s empty tomb where he is said to have been buried and resurrected.
9. Saint Mark’s Basilica
This church was constructed in 1650 in Venice, Italy and is the most famous church in Venice. It is an example of Byzantine architecture. The first church located at this site was commissioned in 832 AD and has been rebuilt many times since then. Due to its striking architectural style, it draws many tourists.
One of the most famous churches of Venice and the finest example of Italo-Byzantine architecture officially known as the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and commonly famous among people as Saint Mark’s Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It was burned down in 976 during an uprising, however, it was restored under his successor named Doge Domenico Contarini and the present basilica was completed in 1071.
10. Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia has, through the years been a Greek Orthodox Church, a Roman Catholic Church, a Mosque and is currently a national museum. It is also one of the Famous Churches around the world. Its construction started in 537, but it was completed after about nine hundred years in 1453. Until today, its engineering and architecture are considered a major achievement. The building was converted into a museum and opened in 1935 and located in Istanbul, it overlooks the crossing between the continents of Asia and Europe.
11. SALT CATHEDRAL OF ZIPAQUIRA, COLOMBIA
The church is a Roman Catholic church built within the salt mines approximately 200 meters underground in the halite mountain near the town of Zipaquira located in Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations and places of pilgrimage in the country. Inside, you can see the temple at the bottom has three sections namely, birth, life, and death of Jesus. It is one of the most notable achievements of Colombian architecture and hence one of the famous churches in the world. The church receives a good amount of tourists, especially on Sunday.
12. Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland
One of the famous churches in the world is also the tallest building in the Reykjavík and the sixth tallest structure in the country. The church built at a height of 74.5 meters tall. The church was designed by the State Architect of Iceland, Guðjón Samuelsson in the year 1937 and built in the honor of Hallgrímur Pétursson, He is one of the best-known poets of Iceland. Because of the war, the construction was delayed that began in 1945. The design of the church was inspired by the Icelandic beauty of nature.
13. Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia
The popular name is Holy Trinity Church situated near the village of Gergeti in Georgia. It was located right near the river Chkheri at an elevation of 2170 meters under Mount Kazbegi. The Church was built in the 14th century and it is the only cross-cupola church in Khevi province. One of the famous churches in the world because of its isolated location situated on the steep mountain and surrounded by the beautiful landscape of nature. The church is a popular waypoint for the travelers, mainly trekkers and it can be reached d by a steep 1 1/2 hour climb up the mountain or with the help of a jeep.
14. Duomo di Milano, Italy
One of the most impressive and famous churches in the world situated in the Piazza del Duomo. The fifth-largest Christian church in the world by passing Outdone by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and Seville’s Cathedral. It covers a surface of 109,641 square feet and considered one of the oldest churches in the world. There are about 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate one of the famous churches in the world.
15. WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON
The church is one of the most popular landmarks to tour in London is Westminster Abbey. It was formed by the Benedictine monks during the tenth century and hence establishing a tradition of daily worship. The current Westminster Abbey was started by Henry III in 1245 and considered one of the most important Gothic buildings of the country. Officially known as Westminster Abbey is the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster. It has been the coronation church for the British Monarch since 1066.
These symbols of Christianity have today grown to have significance beyond the religious. They are major tourist attractions for people from all parts of the world and from all religions and are also symbols of national pride. Today, they are studied for their historical, architectural, cultural and religious importance and are testaments to the creative feats human beings can achieve.
16. Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
Also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter is one of the Catholic famous churches located in the Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is one of the most visited locations in Germany and was declared as a world heritage site in 1996. The construction of the church began in 1248, however, it was halted in the 1473 and later it was completed in 1880. This is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe that has two huge spires that give the church the largest façade across all the churches in the world.
17. Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia
The basilica church is one of the famous churches in the world situated in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño. It was built in the Gothic revival that was completed between 1916 and 1949. It has taken a total of 33 years to build and the name Laja comes from the name of the sedimentary rock and it is similar to shale and slate.
Mnajdra is made of coralline limestone, which is much harder than the soft globigerina limestone of Ħaġar Qim. The main structural systems used in the temples are corbelling with smaller stones, and post and lintel construction using large slabs of limestone.
The cloverleaf plan of Mnajdra appears more regular than that of Ħagar Qim, and seems reminiscent of the earlier complex at Ggantija. The prehistoric structure consists of three temples, conjoined, but not connected: the upper, middle, and lower.  
The upper temple is the oldest structure in the Mnajdra complex and dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BC).  It is a three-apsed building, the central apse opening blocked by a low screen wall. The pillar-stones were decorated with pitmarks drilled in horizontal rows on the inner surface. 
The middle temple was built (or possibly rebuilt) in the late Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BC), the main central doorway of which is formed by a hole cut into a large piece of limestone set upright, a type of construction typical of other megalithic doorways in Malta. This temple appears originally to have had a vaulted ceiling, but only the base of the ceiling now remain on top of the walls  and, in fact, is the most recent structure. It is formed of slabs topped by horizontal courses.
The lowest temple, built in the early Tarxien phase, is the most impressive and possibly the best example of Maltese megalithic architecture. It has a large forecourt containing stone benches, an entrance passage covered by horizontal slabs, one of which has survived, and the remains of a possibly domed roof.  The temple is decorated with spiral carvings and indentations, and pierced by windows, some into smaller rooms and one onto an arrangement of stones. 
The lowest temple is astronomically aligned and thus was probably used as an astronomical observation and/or calendrical site.  On the vernal and the autumnal equinox sunlight passes through the main doorway and lights up the major axis. On the solstices sunlight illuminates the edges of megaliths to the left and right of this doorway. 
Although there are no written records to indicate the purpose of these structures, archaeologists have inferred their use from ceremonial objects found within them: sacrificial flint knives and rope holes that were possibly used to constrain animals for sacrifice (since various animal bones were found). [ citation needed ] These structures were not used as tombs since no human remains were found.  The temples contain furniture such as stone benches and tables that give clues to their use. Many artifacts were recovered from within the temples suggesting that these temples were used for religious purposes, perhaps to heal illness and/or to promote fertility. 
One of the stones displays a lot of drilled holes arranged in different right-aligned rows that can be linked to several periods determined by the moon. 
|Row||Number of holes||Possible use|
|1||19||For the 19 years of the Metonic cycle (235 synodic, 255 draconic, 254 siderial month respectively 6940 days).|
After this period the moon has the same lunar phase and the same ecliptic latitude and
the same ecliptic longitude (eg in the Golden Gate of the Ekliptic or in the equinox).
|2||16 (right)||For the 16 days from old moon (still visible) until full moon and the 13 days from full moon until next old moon,|
together 29 days, the number of full days within a synodic month (29.5 days).
After this period the moon has the same lunar phase again.
|13 (left above)|
|3||3 + 4 (right) |
|For the 7 full days of a moon quarter (7.4 days) respectively of a week.|
|3 (left)||For the 3 already completed moon quarters within the current month.|
|4||25||For the 25 waxing or waning moons (each 14.8 days) within a tropical year (365.2 days).|
|5||11||For the 11 additional days in a tropical year (365.2 days) in comparison to twelve synodic month (354.4 days).|
|6||24 + 1 |
|For the 24 waxing respectively waning moons within twelve synodic month (354.4 days)|
plus an incomplete month until the end of the appropriate tropical year (365.2 days).
|7||53||For the 53 weeks within a tropical year (365.2 days) respectively|
from a heliacal ascent or descent of the Pleiades (or stars) to the next one.
The excavations of the Mnajdra temples were performed under the direction of J.G. Vance in 1840, one year after the discovery of Ħagar Qim.  In 1871, James Fergusson designed the first plan of the megalithic structure. The plan was quite inaccurate and hence in 1901, Dr. Albert Mayr made the first accurate plan which was based on his findings.  In 1910, Dr. Thomas Ashby performed further investigations which resulted in the collection of the important archaeological material. Further excavations were performed in December 1949, in which two small statues, two large bowls, tools and one large spherical stone, which was probably used to move the temple's large stones, were discovered. 
The temple was included on the Antiquities List of 1925. 
Mnajdra was vandalized on 13 April 2001, when at least three people armed with crowbars toppled or broke about 60 megaliths, and inscribed graffiti on them. The attack was called "the worst act of vandalism ever committed on the island of Malta" by UNESCO.  The damage to the temples was initially considered irreparable,  but they were restored using new techniques making it difficult to tell where the megaliths had been damaged. The temples were reopened to the public in 2002. 
The 1, 2 and 5 cent Maltese euro coins, minted since 2008, bear a representation of the Mnajdra temples on their obverse side.
A protective shelter was constructed around Mnajdra (along with Ħaġar Qim) in 2009.
Anthropologist Kathryn Rountree has explored how "Malta’s neolithic temples", including Ġgantija, "have been interpreted, contested and appropriated by different local and foreign interest groups: those working in the tourist industry, intellectuals and Maltese nationalists, hunters, archaeologists, artists, and participants in the global Goddess movement." 
One source from the early years of the twenty-first century speculates that the clover-shape of Mnajdra (presumably the Upper Temple) may represent "the present, past and future (or birth, life and death)", while the solar alignment could mean that "the Sun's Male-energy is also given an honored place in these temples", and that "mother earth was represented by statuettes while father sun was venerated through this temple alignment." 
7 Rare Desert Temple
The Siwa Oasis supported an Egyptian community for thousands of years and under different foreign rulers. In 2018, the ruins delivered another great find. An unknown temple sounds mundane, but this one was also exceptionally scarce.
For starters, new temples are not a common find in Egypt. It was also a rare Greco-Roman building. Among the usual coins and broken pottery, archaeologists found a partial foundation, the front courtyard, the main entrance, and pillars with motifs.
Two lion statues turned up, including one without a head. There was also a sculpture of a human head without a body. Although many artifacts could still turn up, one of the most important contributions could be that of time.
Few buildings from this era exist (200 BC&ndashAD 300), when Egypt was first under Hellenistic and then Roman control. The new temple might reveal more about these rulers and their influence on local culture as such sites also hosted religious, social, and trading events. 
How We Helped
From 2001 to 2003, WMF, through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage in partnership with the University of Chicago and the American Research Center in Egypt, assisted with emergency stabilization and repairs, removal of salts and chemicals, and the development of a long-term conservation treatment plan to address ongoing monitoring and maintenance issues to improve overall general conditions at the site and hopefully slow the pace of deterioration at the complex.
10. Great Wall, China
Stretching almost 13,171 miles, more than ten million people visit the Great Wall of China every year. Building began in the 3rd century BC, and by the time it was finished in the 17th century AD it was the largest military structure in the world and had great architectural and historic importance.
An Ancient Metropolis
Teotihuacan was built more than two thousand years ago, and was a flourishing city by the second century A.D. The city itself was built according to a rigorous design plan — it is laid out geometrically, and features a complex network of irrigation canals drawn from the nearby San Juan river. Though the city center, with its massive temples, is the most stunning feature of the site, a robust urban hive surrounded the ceremonial plaza. At least 2,000 dwellings have been uncovered, and the city likely housed more than 100,000 inhabitants at its peak. That would have made Teotihuacan the sixth-largest city in the world at the time.
Teotihuacan was inhabited until around 700 A.D. What led the residents to leave — drought, famine, warfare — is unknown. But even after it lay empty, the city’s scale and impressive monumental structures lent it an aura of magnificence. Centuries later, the Aztecs came to view Teotihuacan, long-abandoned, as a sacred site. They would even hold rituals in its center. The city’s name today comes from the Aztec and translates as “the place where the gods were created.”
The temples are notable for the distinctive talud-tablero style of architecture, which features alternating slopes and panels to create the unique stepped pyramids of Teotihuacan. The Pyramid of the Sun has a base almost as large as that of the biggest Egyptian pyramid, and is nearly 200 feet tall. It’s likely the inhabitants of the city held rituals and ceremonies at the pyramids, as recent finds suggest. One chamber in the Pyramid of the Moon held valuable offerings like obsidian, pyrite, ceramics, and textiles, as well as the bodies of a number of people , most of them decapitated.
Teotihuacan culture spread far beyond the city itself. Talud-tablero-style temples are found in the Maya city of Tikal, some 700 miles away. Based on Maya inscriptions there, archaeologists think that warriors from Teotihuacan may have invaded the powerful Maya city-state in A.D. 378. Maya inscriptions note the death of the city’s leader, Jaguar Paw, on the same day as the arrival of a powerful warrior from a distant city. That and other evidence led archaeologists to surmise that Teotihuacan may have sent its armies hundreds of miles away to capture one of the jewels of Maya civilization.
But relationships between the Maya and Teotihuacan were not always so violent. There’s also evidence of Maya murals and art in the city, and that members of that society inhabited the city, though whether as diplomats or inhabitants is unclear. But their presence is indicative of the cosmopolitan nature of Teotihuacan. The city was probably filled with people from multiple cultures in Mesoamerica , living and working together.
It also makes the question of who, exactly, the Teotihuacan people were more complex. Scholars once suggested they may have included the Toltecs, a civilization that inhabited roughly the same region as Teotihuacan for hundreds of years. But others note the Toltecs didn’t flourish as a civilization until long after the city had declined, making them an unlikely choice. Others have suggested the Totonacs, a culture about which less is known, though Totonac descendants still live in Mexico today.
Another theory is that the city’s genesis came about as the result of a natural disaster, perhaps a volcanic eruption, that forced many people from their homes. Coming together in a place of safety, these refugees may have banded together to create a new city for themselves. The residents of Teotihuacan, then, may not have belonged to any particular group. Instead, they made their own, along with a new city to house them.
Top 10 Stunning Religious Buildings In Images
Religions &ndash no matter how much they adhere to principles of poverty &ndash have produced some of the most magnificent pieces of architecture in man&rsquos history. Using our Top 10 Organized Religions and their Core Beliefs as a source for the religions chosen to be shown here, we have found images of the most incredible and significant building and temples for each. In the course of writing this list I have come across a large number of beautiful places I never knew existed I hope this experience will be yours as well when reading it. For the sake of brevity I have not described each religion &ndash see the original list for a more detailed explanation.
St Peter&rsquos Basilica is found in Vatican City and has been at the center of the Catholic Church since it&rsquos very beginning. In the first century AD St Peter was buried in that spot after his crucifixion. Because of his importance as first pope the place was remembered and revered by the early Christians. In the 4th century the first basilica of St Peter was built there and that was replaced in the 16th century by the current Basilica &ndash designed by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) works of renaissance architecture to exist today. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the official Papal basilica &ndash that honor is held by the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Masjid al-Haram is a huge mosque in Mecca, Saudia Arabia &ndash it is the largest in Islam and is home to the Kaaba &ndash a black square construction towards which all Muslims must pray every day. The kaaba is believed to contain a stone bearing the footprint of Abraham as well as a black stone which Muslims say was a meteorite that fell from Heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar. The consturction of Masjid al-Haram began in 630 AD when Mohammed won a military victory in the place and began to govern under his law.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most sacred temples to Hindus. It is located in Varanasi (a city mentioned in the Hindu scriptures &ndash home of the god Shiva), India. Hindus are expected to travel at least once in their lifetime to Varanasi and they should also ideally scatter the ashes of their dead family members in the Ganghes river there. Hindus believe that the town is the oldest living town in human history. The temple has a fifteen meter high gold spire, part of which is pictured above.
The most important place in Buddhism is the Mahabodhi Temple which is built on the site which is believed to be the &ldquoNavel of the Earth&rdquo. It is the location of the Bodhi Tree under which the first Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment around 528 BC. The temple is in the state of Bihar in India. Unfortunately in recent years the temple has been plagued with accusations of fraudulent use of donations and selling of sacred objects for profit.
Sri Harmandir Sahib is one of the holiest sites in Sikhism. It is located in Punjab, India and was built in 1574 AD. It contains the holiest scriptures to Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib &ndash a variety of poems, hymns, and religious instructions. The temple is also called the &ldquoTemple of Gold&rdquo as its upper floors are covered in real gold.
Obviously there is no longer a Jewish temple to include on this list so I have chosen the Great Synagogue in Budapest instead. It is the largest synagogue in Europe the fifth largest in the world. It houses a holocaust museum, school, and a cemetery. It was constructed in 1854 and can seat three thousand people.
While not the primary Baha&rsquoi temple, the Lotus Temple in India is the newest and certainly most interesting structurally. It is designed to look like a lotus blossom and it succeeds rather well. It was built in 1986 making it the newest building on this list. All religions are welcome, no sermons are allowed, and music is permitted but musical instruments are not.
The Temple of Confucius in Qufu, China is the most important temple for Confucianism. It was the first built, is still the largest, and is also now a world heritage site. It is the largest cultural site in modern day China and because it was underwent repairs from fire damage just after the building of the Forbidden City, it bears a striking resemblance to many of the features found there.
Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, the largest and oldest Jain temple is located in Delhi, India. It was established in 1656. It has some interesting rules attached to those who wish to enter: no food (not even crumbs left in the mouth), no leather, and no women menstruating. Other significant historical buildings are found in the same region so it is worth considering visiting.
Okay I am cheating a bit here. In first place (for lowest number of adherents) was Shinto but, alas, Shinto shrines are horribly boring to look at! So in its place I present the finest standing temple built to honor all the gods of Ancient Rome. The Pantheon is a stunning work of construction built in 27 BC. It remains to this day thanks largely to the fact that it was taken over as a Catholic church when Roman paganism began to falter. While there are many Christian modifications to the temple to make it suitable for Christian worship, it does still retain many of its original pagan elements &ndash including numeric and symbolic elements in the design. It is, as one would expect, located in Rome.
Questing the Most Impressive Ancient Religious Temples in the World - History
The Temple of Karnak is the largest and one of the most visited temples of Ancient Egypt. It was founded in 3200 BC by the Pharaoh Senusret I. Building on the temple continued for over 3000 years throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Around 30 different pharaohs had a hand in the construction of the temple. Karnak is located in southern Egypt in the ancient city of Thebes (inside the modern city of Luxor, Egypt).
The temple was built to house the god Amun along with his wife Mut and his son Khonsu. The most famous section of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall. The hall is 50,000 square feet filled with 134 huge stone columns. The twelve center columns are 70 feet tall! The hall was built by Pharaoh Seti I around 1290 BC.
About a mile and a half south of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt is the Luxor Temple. It is located on the east bank of the Nile River. The temple was built around 1400 BC for the god Amun along with his wife Mut and son Khonsu. Each year the temple would host the Opet festival. During this festival the statue of Amun would be paraded from the Karnak Temple to Luxor.
The Luxor Temple is known for its large statues of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, an 80 foot tall red granite obelisk, and the Avenue of the Sphinx. There used to be two obelisks at Luxor, but one now resides in Paris, France.
The Abu Simbel temples are located on the southern border of Egypt. They were originally built by the Pharaoh Ramesses II as a monument to himself and Queen Nefertari. The temples were built between 1264 BC and 1244 BC. They were relocated in 1968 so they would not be flooded by the Aswan Dam.
There are two temples at Abu Simbel. They were originally carved out of solid rock. The larger of the two temples is famous for four giant statues of Ramesses II that guard the entrance. Each statue is 65 feet tall and the total height of the temple is nearly 100 feet tall.
The Temple of Edfu is located on the west bank of the Nile River in the city of Edfu, Egypt. It was constructed during the Ptolemaic Dynasty between 237 BC and 57 BC. The temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus.
This is a mortuary temple built by the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut around 1470 BC. The architecture of this temple is considered unique and a turning point in the history of Egyptian architecture. The temple was dedicated to the sun god Amun-Ra. It is located to the northeast of the city of Luxor, Egypt near the Valley of the Kings.
The Temples of Philae are built on an island in the Nile River. There are a number of temples on the island built over a long period of time by the Pharaohs, the Greeks, and the Romans. The main temple on the island is dedicated to the goddess Isis.
The temple of Kom-Ombo is located in southern Egypt in the town of Kom Ombo. It was built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty between 180 BC and 47 BC. The southern part of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the northern portion to the falcon god Horus.
The Temple of Seti I is a mortuary temple built for the Pharaoh Seti I around 1280 BC. It is located in the city of Abydos, Egypt. It was constructed in the shape of an "L" and has shrines dedicated to six Egyptian gods including Osiris, Isis, Horus, Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah. There is also a shrine to the deified Seti I.