9 Great Places of Worship to Visit

I love history.  And I love mythology.  When I visit a place, I therefore like to visit its temples, churches, and other places of worship.  Most temples of worship have so much history behind it and they are often well-integrated into its cultural past.  Here are some of the temples of worship I think are  great ones to visit.

Lorch Cloister, Germany

The Lorch Monastery in Germany served as vital link Limes Germanicus during the Roman era. The Lorch region  originally belonged to the Roman Empire.

 

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most beautiful buddhist temples in Myanmar. When we were there, the place was full of visitors and it was not possible to take a picture of just the tower of the pagoda. It dominates the Yangon skyline at 99 meters in height. It is said that at the top of the pagoda are real jewelries offered to the gods. I don’t know if it is true. This is the most sacred pagoda in the country so their followers do offer a lot to Buddha. As in any other temple of worship, please respect their religion and cover your head and shoulders and legs when you visit.

 

Hagia Sofia, Istanbul

The Hagia Sophia (“holy wisdom”) is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Istanbul in the 6th century A.D.  One of the most beautiful places of worship I have visited.  In its 1,400 year life-span it has served as a cathedral and a mosque.  Today it is a museum.  The viking Halfdan also wrote his name here on a parapet at the second floor.  Even today, you see the Muslim and Catholic signs everywhere.

Read about my first visit to Istanbul here:

Hagia Sofia – Where Jesus and Mohammed and a Viking share a building

 

Taktsang Lhakhang, Bhutan 

This temple is also called the Tiger’s nest temple.  With its imposing location 3120 meters high on a cliff, it is about 10 kilometer from the town of Paro.  Buddhism started here and it is the holiest temple in Bhutan.  It is believed that the second Buddha Guru Rimpoche flew to the cliff on top of a tigress, hence the name.   You have never been to Bhutan if you have not hiked 2-3 hours to get to this place.

 

St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican 

An Italian renaissance church in Vatican.  The seat of Catholicism.  Every year, millions of devotees come here to visit.  Not all are catholics, but most are.  A visit here is not complete without visiting the nearby Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, where one can see the masterworks of Michaelangelo. The pope lives in the Vatican and near this church.  One of the things that made an impression on me is the Pieta sculpture.  I don’t know if they move sculptures, but when I was there, it was on the right side when you go inside the main entrance.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

If you are going to visit Sheikh Zayed Mosque, please note that it is close for worship on Friday mornings.  It is open again at 16.30.  This mosque is said to be the main place of worship for muslims in the Emirates.  The first ever ceremony here was for the burial services of Sheikh Zayed himself and he is also buried here.   This place can hold 40,000 worshippers .  There are reflective pools surrounding the mosque giving it serenity.

 

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Turkey

More popularly known as the Blue Mosque, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is just across the Hagia Sofia.   Don’t forget to cover your hair, arms and legs when you go inside.  When I was here, there were some tourists who did not cover their heads and arms and legs even when politely told to do so, saying they were not believers anyway.   Such disrespect. Sultan Ahmet had this mosque made after the Peace of Zsitvatorok (1606).

 

Dalada Maligava

Dalada Maligava is Buddhist temple located in Kandy, Sri Lanka.  When I was there, it was 2000 years celebration and there were so many people.  I did not know about this until I got to the place.   Its beauty is its simplicity.   A lot of worshippers come here because it is Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist temple and pilgrim destination.  It is also called Temple of the Tooth Relic.

 

Temple of Heaven

This is not used today as a temple of worship, but during the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven was used to pray and to offer sacrifices to heaven.  Also called Tiantan Park, the Temple of Heaven is on the list of UNESCO Heritage world sites. When I was here, I was with a group from Norway and everyone had different opinions of the place, but all were very positive about how great the architecture is.

 

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