In the following we will introduce you to the largest temples in the world. But first a few explanatory words on how we proceeded. What is a temple? “A temple (from the Latin templum) is a building reserved for spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice” (Wikipedia). Since in Eastern Europe churches are often called temples, we have included them in our list. Accordingly, we have not included churches and basilicas from the Western Christian culture in the search. Further our list refers only to the main buildings thus not to whole temple areas or complexes.
But now enjoy our list of the 10 largest temples in the world.
The Temple of Baalbek, also known as the Temple of Bachus, was one of the largest ancient temple complexes, the ruins of which are a tourist attraction in today’s Lebanon.
It is believed that the Babylonians and Phoenicians had already built temple complexes here for their sanctuaries. It is likely that the temple buildings were once dedicated to Baal; however, the remains that remain today are only Roman in origin.
The temple of Jupiter Heliopolitanus was not destroyed by fire until the 6th century AD. After the conquest of the region by Muslims, the building was transformed into a fortress, which in turn was destroyed by Tamerlan (Timur Lenk) around 1400 AD. However, the existing remains stood comparatively intact until 1759 AD, when an earthquake destroyed large parts of the complex. Subsequently, the ruins were used as a quarry or disappeared underground.
The ruins preserved today include the Temple of Bacchus. It is 50 meters long and 33.20 meters wide. The one located nearby. Parthenon temple measures 69.5 meters in length and 30.9 meters in width. The six 20m high columns of the Temple of Jupiter are a landmark of Lebanon, along with the Cedar of Lebanon. They also contain the Baalbek tablets for William II. A museum on the ruined site has been established in excavated underground passages.
9. Temple of Christ the Saviour
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow is the most important cathedral in the city – even before the world-famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. It impresses with its unique and almost unbelievable history, which goes back to the 19th century and continues to this day. Moreover, it is currently the highest Orthodox temple in the world. Since February 1, 2009 it has been the seat of Cyril I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The temple is in a very central location and a magnificent setting: very close to the Kremlin and on the banks of the Moskva River. A visit to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, both from the outside and the inside, is an absolute must when you visit Moscow and should be at the top of your to-do list.
8. Temple of Saint Sava
The Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade is the largest Orthodox Church building in the world. It is dedicated to the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The construction of the church began in 1985 and was mostly completed by 2004. In English it is usually called a cathedral because of its size and importance, but it is not the seat of a bishop and therefore technically not a cathedral. In Serbian it is called a hram (temple). The church is 91 meters (299 feet) long and 81 meters (266 feet) wide. It is 70 meters (230 feet) high, with the gilded main cross on top of the dome extending the church another 12 meters (39 feet). It has a first floor area of 3,500 sq. ft.
7. Tikal (Temple IV)
The 65 square kilometer site of Tikal is located in the middle of the rainforests of Petén in northern Guatemala. It is considered one of the most important sites of the Mayan Kingdom. Its step pyramids were among the tallest structures in the western world.
More than 3,000 structures lie at the center of the complex, many of which can be visited today and some can even be climbed. Since the rediscovery of Tikal in 1848, restoration work has been ongoing. Again and again, parts of the old buildings are uncovered and surveyed. Tikal is especially famous for its large temples, some of which you are allowed to climb.
Tikal (Temple IV): This pyramid is one of the highlights of Tikal. Temple IV, for example, at 65 meters, is not only the tallest pyramid in the complex, but also the tallest in the entire Mayan world – at least among those developed for tourism. Today, a wooden staircase leads up to the top, from where you have a unique view of the rainforest. One stands literally above the jungle, from which the temples I, II, III and V as well as the pyramid of the forgotten world rise. A view that probably also impressed filmmaker George Lucas. He shot a scene here for the fourth part of Star Wars.
As the most important of the ancient royal cities, Anuradhapura was the capital of a Sinhalese empire for well over a thousand years (from about the 3rd century B.C. to 1017). In the heyday of Lankan high culture, when the Roman Empire was already in decline, probably a million people lived in the jungle metropolis.
The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa in the ruins of the Jetavana monastery in the World Heritage city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. At 122 meters, it was the tallest stupa in the world and the third tallest structure in the world when it was built by King Mahasena of Anuradhapura. Long overgrown and now extensively restored, it still measures an impressive 71 m. The domed building from the 3rd century was the center of one of the three important monasteries and under King Mahasena the seat of a strict reform order. Very beautiful are the reliefs of the altar structures at the axis points of the dagoba. Just a stone’s throw away is the Jetavana Museum, which is well worth seeing, with valuable finds from the monastery grounds, including jewelry and gold ornaments.
5. Sri Ranganathaswamy
The Temple at Srirangam in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is known as Shri Ranganathaswamy at this site. For devotees of Lord Vishnu, this temple is considered the most important of the 108 Vishnu temples in India.
The ranking of this temple is also reflected in its size – it covers 156 acres, has a total of 21 intricate towers and has seven rings of enclosures. Each ring has a surrounding wall and in the center of these 7 enclosures is the main deity Shri Ranganathaswamy. To learn more about each enclosure and its contents, visit! The enclosures contain several chariots that are used to transport the deity during festivals and processions.
4. Akshardham Temple
The unique and beautiful monument Akshardham was built without steel and consists of 234 ornately carved columns, 9 ornate domes, 20 square shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra pedestal and 20,000 images of deities and statues of the most popular Indian deities. The structure was built from a mix of white and pink marble. The pink marble represents eternal devotion and the white marble symbolizes absolute purity and eternal peace. Akshardham was built by Maharaja HDH Pramukh Swani to fulfill the wish of his guru, Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj.
“Akshardham” means: the eternal, heavenly abode of the supreme God. This eternal abode is a place where the values and virtues of Akshar, as defined in the Vedas and Upanishads, are preserved. Here you can experience the heritage of India in all its facets, insights and beauty through the monument, exhibitions, green gardens and other attractions.
As if transplanted from another star into the tropical green, the enormous step pyramid of the Borobudur temple appears. More than two million stone blocks rise some 40 meters into the sky and inspire awe in even the most disbelieving on approach.
What is not possible at many historical sites and pyramids of this world, however, belongs to the Borobodur visit as a matter of course: the ascent to the top of the structure – the masterpiece should not only be viewed from below.
Once you have digested the first sight of the gigantic building, you can expect a whole nine floors towering over a square base 123 meters long. Steps lead up to the dome from four sides. Tourists in particular – on the hunt for the perfect sunrise – have to work their way up here in the dark.
Towards the top, the steps taper off from four sides to form a stupa: this is the name given to Buddhist structures that symbolize (similar to a burial mound), Buddha and his teachings.
The monumental work was probably built in the 9th century AD, between the years 750 and 850, by the Sailendra, the Buddhist “rulers of the mountains”. Not much is known about the origin of the complex. Presumably Borobudur stands for a temple-monastery complex located on high ground and took about 100 years to complete. Not long after, it was abandoned again.
2. Karnak (Great Hypostyle Hall)
Along with the pyramids of Giza, it is the highlight of any trip to Egypt and the destination of millions of visitors every year: the great temple city of Karnak. In fact, the ruins of Karnak, located two kilometers north of Luxor, are much more than just the remains of a temple. It is a vast complex of many different temples and cult sites that are interrelated. This is where the religious heart of Egypt beat for many centuries. Karnak was the main place of worship of the imperial god Amun-Re and the largest sanctuary of the entire empire.
The pharaohs Sethos I. and his son Ramses II. (both 19th dynasty) let build the world-wide largest column hall of the antiquity. This columned hall (hypostyle) extends over a floor area of more than 5400 square meters. Originally the whole hall was completely roofed. 16 rows of columns with a total of 134 papyrus columns made of sandstone supported the ceiling. The whole hall is built approximately like a three-aisled basilica. In the center the columns are higher (21m) and have an open capital, in the two side aisles the columns are proportionally smaller (13m) and have a closed capital. The central columns have a diameter of more than three and a half meters. On the columns weigh up to 70 tons architrave blocks, on which once rested the ceiling.
1. Angkor Wat Temple
The size of Angkor Wat is gigantic, the architecture unique in the world. The temple mountain consisting of 3 terraces symbolizes the sacred Mount Meru, the center of the universe. Together with the surrounding moat, which represents the primeval ocean, the site covers the enormous area of 200 hectares. This is 2 square kilometers and is roughly equivalent to 185 soccer fields.
The main temple of the complex is Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman. Today it is considered the national symbol of the country.
The temple is said to symbolize the spatial universe and impresses with its immense size alone. Moreover, it is the best preserved building of the complex and still enjoys religious significance today. The building complex combines two basic types of Khmer architecture: a temple mount and a gallery temple. They represent Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods. On the outside of the temple, ornate bas-reliefs extend for over 800 meters. It is surrounded by a 190m wide moat, which in its time was used to transport the sandstones for construction. Inside the moat there are three rectangular galleries, which rise one above the other. In the center of the structure there are five towers arranged as a quincunx.