Top Religious Sites of the World
Religion is some form or other has been around for a long time. It is hard to separate religion from for our cultural heritage in terms of art and architecture. All of the major religions: Islam, Christianity and Hinduism have created some fantastic monuments to their gods which all of us can enjoy.
Santa Sophia - Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Built originally in the 537AD as a church it was considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. For a 1000 years it was the largest cathedral in the world. After 1453, when the Ottoman Turks took Constantinople the church was converted to a mosque with the addition of minarets and the covering up of many of the Christian mosaics. In 1935 it was converted to a museum by Ataturk's secular Republic of Turkey.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat Is a temple near Siem Reap, Cambodia, built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation-first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture.
The site is huge - covering Angok Wat is not just a temple though. To see the entire site can easily take a week even if you do hire a car or tuktuk to get around. The outer wall is around 1000 by 800m an ecloses 820,000 square meters (203 acres). Most of the actual city is gone as it was probably built in wood, but the impressive sandstone temples are some of the most awe inspiring in Asia.
Taj Mahal , Agra, India
Possibly the most romantic building on earth the famous tomb built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Turkish, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles.
The Taj is even more impressive when you fight your weight through the busy and dirty town of Agra, in the middle of which the Taj sits. Once you enter through the gates though this is the view that you see - it really is from the prosaic to the sublime. In accordance to Islamic tradition there are no images of people in the Taj but the beautiful geometric decorations and calligraphy are a highlight.
St Paul's Cathedral, London , UK
Christopher Wren's Masterpiece. Built to replace an earlier church raised to the ground by the Great Fire of London of 1660, the dome is inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome, but is built in the more sober English Baroque architectural style. The cathedral is in the traditional shape of the cross with three small chapels in aisles adjoining the main nave.
Although the church is open for tours the best way to actually appreciate is to attend a service, preferably a sung evensong which are normally held in the late afternoon. You will be shut into the inner nave and have to remain for the entire service participate and not take pictures - but you will actually get a feel for real beauty of the building and hear the wonderful acoustics.