Sacred Worship Sites Around The World

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By Zoe Denenberg

Sagrada Familia, Roussanou Monastery, and Angkor Wat. These worship sites may represent a variety of faiths, but they are all revered as architectural masterpieces.

From mosques to temples to cathedrals, explore some of the world's most stunning religious destinations.

Nasr al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, iran

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The "pink mosque" is known for its intricate patterns, colorful details and stunning stained glass windows. Click and drag the image above to explore the mosque in 360 degrees.

church of the transfiguration, kizhi island, russia

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The 22-domed Transfiguration Church is the focal point of the Kizhi Pogost, part of the national open-air museum of Russia's Kizhi Island. The construction of the wooden structure began in 1714 and the spectacular church is said to have been built without a single nail.

wat rong khun, chiang mai, thailand

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Wat Rong Thun, also known as "The White Temple," is one of Thailand's most popular cultural attractions. The compound is still under construction, but will one day contain nine buildings. Each detail of the structures is laden with symbolism; the white color symbolizes the purity of the buddha, and the glass represents the wisdom and teachings of the buddha.

Among the all-white buildings stands one golden structure, which symbolizes earthly desires and greed. It serves as a reminder to maintain focus and disregard luxury, instead returning to the mind.

popa taungkalat monastery, mount popa, myanmar

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Popa Taungkalat Monastery rests in the shadow of the towering Mount Popa, one of Myanmar's most famous pilgrimage sites. The  secluded buddhist monastery is located at the summit of a smaller hill called Taungkalat, or 'Pedestal Hill.' Visitors can climb 777 steps to the Popa Taungkalat Monastery to explore numerous shrines and see breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.


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The Chapel of the Holy Cross juts out of Sedona's famous red rock. The chapel's natural beauty earned it a spot as one of Arizona's seven man-made wonders.

temple of heaven, beijing, china

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This intricate temple complex dates back to the 15th century, and in 1998 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the three-tiered centerpiece to a number of complex structures, each built according to rigid philosophical guidelines.

las lajas SANCTUARY, ipiales, colombia

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Located near the border of Colombia and Ecuador, the Las Lajas Sanctuary is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful basilicas in the world. The precarious gothic revival structure is built into the canyon of the Guaitara River, connecting the two banks. The church was constructed in honor of two legendary miracles, and its miraculous location surely pays tribute to these origins.

cathedral of brasília, brasilia, brazil

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This metropolitan cathedral is truly a masterpiece. The innovative hyperboloid structure was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer and is full of intricate details, from the suspended angels to the sweeping columns.

sanctuary of truth, pattaya, thailand

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This all-wood sanctuary was constructed entirely in line with ancient Thai architectural practices. It is covered in intricate wood carvings, meant to depict complex ideas about ancient thought, human responsibility, and the cycle of life.

basilica Sacré-Cœur, paris, france

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The Sacré-Cœur sits atop the hill of Montmartre, Paris's artistic district. Not only is it one of the most important European basilicas, but it provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Paris' skyline. Visitors can climb 270 steps to the top of the Sacré-Cœur for an unforgettable experience.

melaka straits mosque, malacca, malaysia

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This gorgeous mosque is located on a man-made island in Malaysia and cost a whopping MYR10 million to build. If you want to see more seaside sites of worship, Bali is the place to go.

notre-dame basilica, montreal, canada

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Located in the heart of Old Montreal, The Notre-Dame basilica is not only an important place of worship, but also a key Canadian landmark. Instead of depicting scenes from the Bible, the Basilica's stained glass features scenes from Montreal's religious history. 

roussanou monastery, meteora, greece

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The Roussanou Monastery is one of six precarious structures that rise out of Greece's rock cliffs. The cliffs were first inhabited in the 9th century by hermit monks. Centuries later, the secluded rock pillars provided monks with protection from political upheaval. Although the Meteora rock structure once held 20 monasteries, only six survive today.

sagrada familia, barcelona, spain

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This whimsical cathedral is renowned as Antoni Gaudí's principal architectural masterpiece. The design is so intricate that the cathedral was not finished in Gaudí's lifetime; it has been under construction since 1882 and is scheduled to be finished in 2026, marking the centennial of Gaudí's death. Don't miss the incredible stained glass interior.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, abu dhabi, UAE

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With its sleek white architecture and tranquil reflecting pool, Abu Dhabi's grand mosque stuns day and night. It is the largest and most important mosque in the United Arab Emirates, drawing over 41,000 people for Eid prayers.

angkor wat, siem reap, cambodia

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Angkor Wat is the largest religious site in the world, expanding across 162.6 hectares of land. What is now the Angkor Archaeological Park once served as the center of the Khmer Empire, a dominating force in Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th century. The inhabited park is intimately connected to nature, and part of its land remains a forest.

st. basil's cathedral, moscow, russia

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Saint Basil's Cathedral is the focal point of Moscow's Red Square, its bright colors bound to capture any visitor's eye. This UNESCO World Heritage Site's unique architecture resembles a bonfire, with its multi-layered towers rising up towards the sky like flames.

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