Architecture of Worship By: Harley Ganna

Catholicism: St. Peter's Basilica

Where: Vatican City, Italy

St. Peter's Basilica is the forefront of Renaissance architecture in terms of religion. The building's foundation is based on a mixture of the Basilica plan of Gothic churches and the Central Plan from Classicalism. If you look at the plan, it forms the shape of a cross. This was a usual practice when building churches in Europe during this time.

Islamic: Taj Mahal

Where: Agra, India

The Taj Mahal was a tomb built by Shah Jahan, a ruler of the Mughal Dynasty, after his wife's death. The tomb and its subsequent gardens was known as Paradise on Earth simply because it looked like paradise. The complex consists of an area for shops, the mosoleum, a temple adjacent of the mosoleum, and a building that serves as architectural support and its symmetrical balance. Inside the mosoluem is a floor-plan that acts like the eight levels of paradise, with eight halls and side rooms. The entire building acts as the image of Islamic Paradise to those who visit it.

Hinduism: Angkor Wat

Where: Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built by the many kings of the Khmer in what is today known as Cambodia. The original plan was created by Surayavarman II, however each kind added on to the complex their own temple, creating a mixed bag of styles and sizes to the temples. In the center are the five towers; representing the five peaks of Meru (or the sacred mountains of the cosmos) and in the center of those towers is the mandala, or the universe. Surrounding the area is the moat which represents the cosmic ocean that surrounds the universe.

Buddhism: Borobudur Temple

Where: Java, Indonesia

This temple was built in 800 CE to showcase the path towards enlightenment. People would start off at the bottom and spiral up to the top of the structure going through the "levels" of enlightenment. This would take the shape of the mandala, or universe.Throughout the structure are mini stupas which hold Buddhas inside of them. At the very top stands a center stupa that is empty. People theorize that either the statue was removed or is signified the loss of materiality when you reach enlightenment.

Judaism: Wailing Wall

Where: Jerusalem, Israel

The Wailing Wall was constructed as one side of walls that surrounded a temple in Jerusalem. It came to be known as the holiest place for them to pray. The name Wailing Wall came from the fact that the temple that lay in the compound was destroyed.


The collection of architecture is unique to each religion. However, there are some similarities depending on what religion it is. For example, Hinduism and Buddhism share many aspects religiously and as such also share architecture. Like the mandala shape that appears in both sets of temples. Same goes for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. The foundation of their religions is what shapes their architecture.

In addition to the similarity of the architecture in terms of similar religions, one thing they all have in common is there grandeur. All of these beguiling swere meant to draw attention and provide awe in front of the religion. These temples and churches were created by kings and emperors of wealthy kingdoms and represent that with the amount of money that went into each project.

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