Let's See Those Marvelous Places of Worship

Throughout human history, entire societies have found or created unique places to worship. Across medieval Europe, fantastic churches were constructed with massive frescos and ornate architecture. Other places of worship around the world are much simpler, such as the Rimwood Chapel in Michigan, just large enough inside for a congregation of three. From monasteries that appear to float above the earth carved into cliffsides, to mosques that shimmer in the sunlight, here are a few of the world’s most unique places of worship.

(Image: Sgt. Kimberly Lamb/Public Domain)

Wat Mongkoltepmunee is a magnificent Buddhist temple complete with intricate designs, while sporting a bold exterior adorned in red, gold, and white. However, you won’t need to cross the ocean to visit this temple as it resides in the middle of the township of Bensalem, Pennslyvania. The temple plays a vital role in the area’s thriving Thai community. Underneath the city of Lourdes, France resides the Basilica of St. Pius X, a massive Roman Catholic church comprised entirely of concrete. This giant place of worship is more commonly referred to as the Underground Basilica. In the Mazari Sharif region of Afghanistan is the spectacular Blue Mosque. The turquoise blue tiles reflect vibrantly in the sun, and surrounding the mosque, pure white clay tiles give off the appearance that the mosque is floating. For centuries, civilizations across the globe have been constructing wondrous and unique places of worship. This is just a microscopic snapshot of the brilliant places of worship around the globe, now we’d like to see more!

In the thread below, tell us about some of your favorite places of worship. Where is it and what’s the history behind its existence. What did you find most intriguing about its design and existence? Did your visit move you, if so, how? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response and photo may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura!


I hiked to a hidden shrine on Wik’il in Baja California Norte to retrace the steps the soul of my Npo/Grampa would have taken on his way to the hole in the sky. Now he wears his crest of stars, and I watched him all one night crossing. He watches over us as we make our way through the distant nearness to the Ancient Future.


The Hagia Sopha in Istanbul, at one time a church and at one time a mosque, harboring elements of both, is a symbol of how religions can co-exist with one another, and a spiritual haven like none I’ve experienced before. In addition it is an amazing architectural wonder with its ground-breaking floating dome.
Not sure why my photo isn’t coming up, can anyone else share one?


The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL. This structure looks as though it is built of lace, the intricate, all-white design filters in the light. One feels like you are in the heavens.


is the file in jpeg format ?

The photo says jpg so yes.

Several of my favorites from around the world

[Sagrada in Barcelona]


I am fond of St. Bride’s in London, not for its appearance (so no photo) but for its acoustics and choir. The choir, which is only like a dozen people, sits on either side of the aisle in the middle of the church, so you can hear the singers’ individual voices. It’s very cool.


This is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It was built 1997-2007 and is one of the largest mosques in the world; it can hold up to 40,000 worshippers. The courtyard floral design is considered an example of one of the largest marble mosaics. A carpet inside is the largest hand-knotted in the world and took two years to make and two months to transport from Iran.

Visitors: Women must wear Abaya (dark gown with hood). Both genders must cover the shoulders and knees and not wear shoes. Men and women cannot walk close to one another, nor touch each other.


Truly gorgeous! That chandelier is incredible thanks for sharing these pics and info!

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The Jerusalem Synagogue in Prague is the most beautiful (and heartbreaking) synagogue I’ve ever been to. The Ottoman-influenced architecture is so unique and vibrant!


Thanks for sharing this one! and yes some heartbreaking history here during the occupation of ww2

I’ve been to many places of worship that have impressed me, but most recently I have to say that the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán in Oaxaca really just amazed me. It’s a Spanish Baroque church with just the most amazing decor. The adjacent former monastery houses the main museum in Oaxaca, which has a stunning collection of artifacts.


Wow!! that 2nd to last pic really captures it! I mean look at that ceiling is that a fresco?

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. My photos aren’t the greatest. Here is the dome and a limited interior. One exterior


Thanks for helping an Obscurian in need. :heart: That exterior shot is gorgeous.

Oaxaca is one of my favorite places in the world, and Santo Domingo is definitely a part of that. If you’re after more of that style of ultrabaroque, gold everywhere style, it is also well-represented in Puebla’s Chapel of the Rosary (although as a chapel, it is smaller than the Temple of Santo Domingo),

Capilla del Rosario by Ole Steffensen, en Flickr

the Sanctuary of Guadalupe in Morelia (the brighter colors make for a different experience overall, although I prefer the relatively minimalist white of the Oaxaca church),

2019 - Mexico - Morelia - 10 - Sanctuary of Guadalupe by Ted McGrath, en Flickr

and Santa Prisca in Taxco, which is more retablo-based in the gold game:
Interior de la Iglesia de Santa Prisca by Rogel Luna, en Flickr


They’re actually painted bas reliefs. Amazing.

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Thank you so much! Your photos are fabulous! I really appreciate your help.


You’re very welcome!