Religious or not, these holy buildings are worth traveling for
THERE’S no denying that faith has inspired and driven the construction of some of the world’s most impressive buildings.
From the Westminster Abbey in London to the Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Marble Mountains in Vietnam or the sprawling Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia, each one is an architectural miracle in its own right.
But it’s not always the well-known ones that are the most intriguing, and if temple or culture tourism’s your thing, you’d agree with us.
The following are but a few examples of several relatively unknown but equally magnificent religious buildings that you must include in your bucket list.
Even if you’re not particularly religious or think every religious building’s one and the same, you’ll be wanting to pay homage to the architects of these places of worship:
Beer temple, Thailand
In the southeast province of Sisaket, 500-kilometers from Bangkok is the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Buddhist temple.
It’s a temple like any other and seemingly nothing out of the ordinary… until you realize it’s made entirely out of glass beer bottles.
Thailand has over 40,000 temples, but this is by far the most creative and inventive.
The story of the “Beer Temple” started in 1984 with a group of local monks who began collecting beer bottles off the streets.
You didn’t think the monks drank the beer, did you?
After a few years of collecting, they had amassed enough to erect this dazzling display of holy creativeness.
Combined with cement and left to set, the collected bottles have been used to construct nearly 20 buildings. These include prayer rooms, a water tower, tourist bathrooms and a hall, among other glistening buildings.
Tree Church, New Zealand
There’s topiary and then there’s this.
While it might look like an artist’s illustration of a futuristic house, it’s actually a 100-seat church made with living trees.
Tree Church is the brainchild of Barry Cox who started planting in 2011.
It was originally grown as a personal retreat from society’s burdens, but after the church and surrounding garden were complete, Cox wanted to share his creation with the public.
Entry to the church is around US$10 (NZ$15) and visitors can explore a labyrinth walk and immaculately kept gardens.
Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq
A lighthouse or a mosque?
We can confirm it is a mosque… well part of one anyway. This iconic conical structure was built in the 9th-century near Baghdad in Iraq.
The main mosque building was destroyed in 1278 during an invasion of Iraq but the outer wall and minaret remained intact. A bombing raid in 2005 saw part of the minaret crumble but thankfully, most of the structure stood the test of modern warfare.
Towering above the city at 52-meters high and 33-meters wide, the tower remains a truly impressive sight today.
The building also remains structurally sound, though, we would advise that you take great caution when climbing up the spiral ramp to the top as there are no railings along the way.
Wat Rong Khun, Thailand
Most people can’t even keep white t-shirts from going grey but one man in Chiang Rai manages to keep the Wat Rong Khun temple spotless.
Known as the “White Temple” among tourists, this impressive building is, in fact, a privately owned art exhibit.
Chalermchai Kositpipat is the guy behind the artwork. He bought the temple in a state of disrepair and transformed it into this heaven-like building.
Each part of the temple has been carefully thought out, from the bridge symbolizing rebirth, to the golden building juxtaposing the purity of white.