For many people, a visit to a religious building is a normal part of everyday life, while for others it’s a rare experience. Whether you practice a certain religion or actively don’t practice a religion, there are so many beautiful buildings in the world that were built specifically for the worship of a higher power that are worth a visit.
Generally, these buildings are precious to people not only because of their physical appearance, but because of what they represent to the community. Regardless of your faith, the next time you’re traveling, check out one of these incredibly beautiful buildings.
Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey
Although it’s no longer an active religious building, the Hagia Sophia has a very unique history. The first building on the site was erected in 537 AD, and it was used as a Greek Orthodox church for almost a thousand years. The city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 and the building was turned into a mosque on the orders of Mehmed the Conqueror.
If you visit the Hagia Sophia today, make sure to take in all of the unique features from its Christian and Muslim history that are mashed together to form a completely one of a kind church.
Hanging Gardens of Haifa – Haifa, Israel
Many people don’t realize as they’re walking around the Hanging Gardens of Haifa that they’re actually strolling through a religious site for people of the Bahá’í faith. People of the Bahá’í religion make up a small portion of the world’s religious worshippers (about five to seven million worldwide), but these gardens, which cluster around the Shrine of the Báb, are regularly visited by a million people every year.
The Gardens, which were built in 2001, climb up the slope of Mount Carmel, and are a brand-new addition to a country where most of the monuments are centuries old.
La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
This majestic church, which is formally called the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, has become an emblem of both Barcelona and of the Art Nouveau architectural movement. Although he wasn’t actually attached to the project when it began, architect Antoni Gaudi’s vision became the guiding light for this structure, and it remains forever associated with him, even though he died before the building was even close to completion.
It still remains incomplete to this day – the current estimated date for completion is 2026. If you visit, try to ignore the scaffolding, and picture how extraordinary it will look when the structure is finished.