Angkor Wat, Cambodia July 16th 2017 - It's very hot here in Cambodia in the summer but the view of this site is beautiful. Angkor Wat is not only the biggest Hindu temple but the biggest religious site in the world. It is 500 acres big and was originally built to honor the Hindu god, Vishnu. It was built by the Khmer King, Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Today I even saw that it was represented on the Cambodian flag! How cool is that! Angkor Wat consists of two different styles of Khmer architecture: The Temple Mountain and the Galliered Temple which are designed to represent Mount Meru, home to the devas in Hindu mythology. Angkor Wat is seen as the figurehead and symbol of the Hindu religion.
Mahabodhi Temple, India July 18th: I arrived here yesterday from Cambodia but I decided to explore the city and taste local food on my first day in India. I just arrived at one of the big religious sites of the Buddhist religion, Mahabodhi Temple. The reason his exact temple is so important is because it is said to be where Buddha reached enlightenment. This temple was built in 250 B.C. when Buddhist Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya, where Mahabodhi Temple is built, to build a monastery on this holy site. I noticed, as I ventured in, that it is made mainly from brick and found out that this temple is one of the oldest brick structures in East India. The main tower in the middle, who is 180 ft tall, is surrounded by four smaller towers. As I was walking around I saw that the railings on the outside of the temple are made from sandstone and coarse granite and also have drawings of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, and Surya, the Hindu sun god. This beautiful temple is the face of the Buddhist religion and its culture.
The Western Wall, Jerusalem July 21st: I arrived here two days ago but fell sick with a fever. I am now on my way to be said one of the holiest Jewish structures, The Western Wall. It is an ancient limestone wall built for the reason of expanding the second Jewish Temple. This Jewish building is said to be holy because of its connection and relevance to the Temple Mount and is considered holy because it is an open place for Jews to pray anytime they want. This wall has been a site for Jewish prayers and pilgrimages for nearly centuries. This is one of the most important Jewish sites because it has been around for centuries and is one of the biggest cultural landscapes in the world.
The Western Wall, Jerusalem
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem July 22nd: I'm now headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which is supposed to be one of the oldest churches dating back to the fourth century and is meant to be the site where Jesus was crucified and buried. Although the Church is in Jerusalem, many different Christian branches fought over it such as Roman Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox. I met a man that has been the bearer of a tradition that has lasted for centuries. He told me that when Saladin conquered Jerusalem, many Christian branches were fighting over the Church. To resolve this, Saladin gave the key to a Muslim family. Everyday the bearer of the key must open the door for the priest and when the day is over must close it and lock the door. Surprisingly this has been going on since the 12th century. When you first enter the church you see the stone of anointing. The tomb of Jesus, when you walk in, is directly to your left. The whole Church complex is richly decorated. This church is a very significant site in the Christian religion.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem July 23rd: It's my final day here before I go back home and it's been beautiful traveling to all of these religious structures. The final religion is Islam. I am traveling to Al-Aqsa Mosque today which is a mosque on the hill in the Old City Jerusalem called Temple Mount. People say that Muhammad was moved from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Islamic legends say that Muhammad had prayers coming to this site up until the seventeenth month after departing from Mecca. The mosque was originally a small prayer house but was rebuilt by Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik in the 8th century. The architecture of this building is beautiful which a golden dome on the top of the mosque. The architecture consists of many arches which is a classic trait of Islamic Architecture. The facade of the mosque was built in 1065 but it was destroyed during the crusades. The facades has 14 stone arches and the main entrance is through the central arch. The interior of the mosque is made up of mainly marble and stone.
Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem