Home > Worship in Wonder: 12 Divinely Inspired Churches
Worship in Wonder: 12 Divinely Inspired Churches
Almost all the major faiths have a grand tradition of opulent, lavish houses of worship, all intended to glorify God. These breathtaking churches, temples, and mosques may be just the thing to soothe your soul.
El Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, named for the Holy Family, is the crown jewel of Barcelona and the masterwork of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Work began in 1882, but Gaudí was killed in 1926, while the plans were, unfortunately, still in his head. Construction is ongoing, and the church is currently expected to be completed in 2026.
Called the Harmandar Sahib, aka the Abode of God, this temple is the holiest site in the Sikh faith. Located in the state of Punjab, the temple complex and the city surround a pool excavated by the founder of Sikhism himself in the sixteenth century, called Amritsar (“the nectar of immortality”).
The 10,000 panes of glass on this Protestant church aren’t actually bolted to the frame; they were installed using a silicone-based glue. The structure, designed by architect Philip Johnson and completed in 1980, was built to withstand an earthquake of 8.0 magnitude.
Also known as the Dohány Street Synagogue, the temple is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world. It was built in the 19th century in a Moorish style similar to Spain’s Alhambra. During World War II, the temple was a part of the ghetto for Budapest’s Jews; on the premises is a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust.
This marble temple is known for the exquisitely detailed marble carvings throughout the structure, including an elephant dating to 1687 and 1,400 pillars, of which no two are the same. The temple itself was completed in the 15th century and is an important site in the Jain faith.
The ruins of this Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site were discovered by Dutch explorers in Indonesia in the 19th century. It contains 2 million cubic feet of stone, 2,700 panels of bas relief sculpture, and 504 statues of the Buddha. Although no one knows for sure when or why the site was built, some believe that the two miles of relief panels tell the story of Buddhism for those who walk around all nine levels of the temple.
This cathedral is built inside a canyon in the Andes, at a site where an Amerindian woman claimed to see a vision of the Virgin Mary during a storm in 1754. On the limestone tiles of the canyon, the “miraculous” image is still visible today.
Completed and opened to the public in 2005, Ashkardham (as the site is known) is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. Its grounds include not just a temple but also stone monuments, a musical fountain, a sunken lotus garden, and a museum exhibition. An estimated 70 percent of tourists to Delhi visit the attraction.
This mosque, otherwise known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles found in its interior, was built in 1609. The site, a popular tourist attraction, also houses a madrassa (school), a hospice, and the tomb of Sultan Ahmed.
Construction on the Duomo began in 1296 and lasted for 170 years. The basilica, also the seat of the Florentine diocese, is known for its sparse Gothic interior, the priceless works of art located inside, and its massive dome, which is still the largest masonry dome in the world.
This nondenominational Christian chapel, located in the Ozark Mountains, features 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows, which let nature in and help worshippers feel closer to God. The chapel, built according to the Prairie School, was designed by architect E. Fay Jones, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright.