October 9: Christianity
I began my travels in Bethlehem, Israel where a visited a sacred site to Christians all around the world. The church of nativity is the wonderful site I went to go see. It is known to be one of the oldest Christian holy sites in the world. Many people, like me, come to visit this church to see all the wonders inside. They have famous paintings on the floor and the walls depicting Jesus.
The Christian architecture is very fascinating. Christian churches are meant to be places to where they can worship. There has been some controversy that in the recent years, architects have been deviating from the original architecture of churches. They now like to incorporate light, space, and lines inside their architecture when originally it resembled roman temples with large areas of space to worship.
October 10: Judaism
After I finished my exploration of Christianity in Bethlehem, I moved on to yet another part of Israel. Israel itself as a country, is considered to be a holy place to almost all Jews. I went to Jerusalem where I went to the Jewish sacred site called The Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is a plaza of stone surrounded by beautiful trees. This was the location of The First Temple where Jesus prayed making it significant to Jews, but Christians as well.
Jewish architecture reflects more on local minority communities needs. Jews were small in numbers, territory, and wealth which made it difficult for them to have a very outstanding architecture. Jewish architecture is also considered a hybrid architecture because they incorporate art into their sacred sites. Mosaic art to be specific. Lots of old jewish sacred temples have unfortunately been destroyed.
October 12: Islam
I took a day to rest and I took my ventures to Baghdad, Iraq where I saw an amazing site. The Abbasid Caliph Al-Naser Ledinilliah is a gigantic place. It is just a breathtaking a view that helps you understand the level of advancement in the Muslim community. I then went went to Najaf, Iraq which is the capital of the Najaf province. This place is the central point of power in Iraq where an ancient Muslim prophet's tomb is which makes it a site to visit.
The Islam architecture is actually very urbanized and takes after building concepts. They like to borrow architectural ideas from other religions. Their places they go to worship actually are a mix of many other cultures and religions architecture. For example, they have a style that is very similar to Christians and the Japanese culture as well. Their architecture also reflects on their power and sophistication. They like to use things like arches, domes and columns, meaningful illustrations and geometrical decorating patterns to make seem like they have a sense of peace and contemplation or thinking. This is very helpful in times of worship.
October 14: Hindu
I now ventured on to India where I went to go and look and the wonders of the Hindu religion. India is the very heart and soul of the Hindu religion with several temples all over the country. I first went to go and see The Brihadishvara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. This temple is very important because it is one of the key temples in a certain period of time that was important in the Hindu culture. I also went to visit the Gopura & Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India.
Hindu architecture used to be simple rock carved temples, but the current architecture is still very similar to that. Essential elements to any Hindu temple is having geometrical building which can be seen from all four sides and the top. They also usually have sculptures that represent gods, animals, or erotic scenes. Hindu architecture was actually first inspired by Buddhist buildings. The most crucial part of a Hindu temple is a closed room with a shrine in the very heart of the temple. There is usually a symbol or representation of a specific God in that room.
October 15: Buddhism
I decided to spend my final day of my travels looking at the wonders and amazing architecture of buddhism and admire one of their sacred sites. To do this I hopped on a flight to Sri Lanka and was amazed by what I saw. One of the oldest monuments and most important ones was one I saw in Sri Lanka. Ruwanweliseya, or the "Great Stupa", is regarded as the most important of the stupas at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is the oldest but smallest of the three giant edifices in brick in the world. This stupa is made of several rare things like coral from the Mediterranean sea. Many stupas around the world take after the design of this one.
Buddhist architecture requires proportions that directly reflect on religious monuments in the Buddhist society. This very unique architecture developed from the pre-Buddhist Indian grave-mound. Under these mounds the saintly ascetic were buried. Their bodies were put on the ground and covered with dirt. These dome-shaped graves, or tumuli, of the saints were seen as holy places. They were also destinations for pilgrimage for the devotional and places of practice.