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Ever since the formation of the earliest human civilizations, worshippers have constructed awe-inspiring holy sites to pay homage to their gods. Today, there are countless temples and cathedrals all across the globe, standing as testaments to the creative abilities and religious devotion of mankind. Of course, with such a diversity of impressive structures, it would take a book to showcase a comprehensive list of the world’s best; but we’ve nonetheless put together this modest list of 7 truly divine holy places.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The massive Khmer stone temples at Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century, are without a doubt one of the most incredible architectural achievements in history. Originally constructed to honor Hindu deities and serve as the seat of state for ancient Khmer kings, the site features vast moats, intricately carved bas reliefs, towering minarets, and enormous stone sculptures.
Hagia Sophia, Turkey
Built in 360 AD, this was the largest cathedral in the world for over a thousand years. Representing the pinnacle of Byzantine architecture, it has variously served as a central hub of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Islamic community. Famous for its expansive gilded domes, painstakingly detailed mosaics, ornate pillars, and marble walkways, it is a truly gorgeous structure of astounding beauty and architectural nuance. It also houses countless priceless religious artifacts, such as the Lustration Urns from Pergamon.
Golden Temple, India
Harmandir Sahib, meaning “The Abode of God,” is a Sikh temple, which earned its common English name due to the fact that its exterior is coated in a veneer of real gold. Inside, it is decorated with ornate frescoes and gemstones, and it is surrounded on all sides by a large reflecting pool. The temple is active to this day, and has been a holy site of deep religious significance since its completion in 1604.