14 of the Most Famous Places of Worship on Earth

Want to explore some of the most famous places of worship on the planet? Here are 14 spectacular religious sites you could see on your travels.

Some of the world’s most impressive manmade structures are places of worship. From churches and temples to synagogues and mosques, every country on earth boasts religious buildings so huge, ornate, and historic they take your breath away.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate them, either. These sacred spaces can inspire a sense of awe in anyone lucky enough to visit. Read on to discover 14 of the most famous places of worship on the planet.

1. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

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With a total area of 23,000 square meters, St. Peter’s Basilica is the second-largest Christian church on earth. It’s vast, breathtaking, and took a whopping 120 years to build. The interior is a work of art, too. It’s grand, ornate, gilded, and has a 136-meter-tall dome that offers outstanding views over St. Peter’s Square (and the city of Rome beyond).

2. St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

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Speaking of impressive domes, St. Paul’s Cathedral has one of the world’s most iconic. This beautiful English Baroque building was designed by famed polymath Christopher Wren. Although its current form dates to the 1700s, there has been a Paul’s Cathedral here since 604 AD. Today, it’s one of London’s best-known sights and a prominent place of Christian worship.  

3. Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

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Built in the early 17th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site earns its name from the tens of thousands of handmade blue Iznik tiles decorating its interior. With a huge central dome, semi-domes on the side, six iconic minarets, and 260 stained glass windows, the Blue Mosque is an impressive sight both outside and in.

4. Paro Taktsang, Bhutan

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Otherwise called the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro Taktsang is one of Bhutan’s most famous attractions. Perched on a cliffside 900 meters above ground, it’s probably the most epic location for a place of worship you’ll ever encounter. The sacred Buddhist site dates to the late 17th century and remains an operational monastery.

5. Lotus Temple, New Delhi, India

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This distinctive temple in India’s capital is less than 40 years old, but its iconic design quickly turned it into one of the city’s top attractions. This Bahá’í House of Worship is a nine-sided circular structure with 27 marble “petals” arranged in the shape of a lotus flower. It’s a real architectural masterpiece surrounded by landscaped gardens and pools.

6. Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavík, Iceland

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Iceland’s biggest church dominates the Reykjavík skyline. It’s a place of worship fit for Vikings – a giant 73-meter-tall, stepped concrete modern structure that’s reminiscent of a manmade mountain. Construction of Hallgrimskirkja was completed in 1986. It’s since become a symbol of the city and a popular tourist attraction.

7. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Built between 1994 and 2007, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque lacks the historical value of other places on this list. Yet, in terms of scale, religious significance, and aesthetic appeal, it’s up there with the best. This is the UAE’s largest mosque. Made from marble, it measures a whopping 290 by 420 meters and can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers.

8. Western Wall, Jerusalem

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The Western (or Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City is the world’s most significant religious site for Jewish people. The remains of a retaining wall built circa 20 BC for Temple Mount (the site of Jerusalem’s First and Second Temples), it has been likened to an open-air synagogue. It’s a place of pilgrimage and prayer that draws countless people of all faiths every year.

9. Seigantoji Temple, Nachikatsuura, Japan

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Of Japan’s 160,000 temples and shrines, Seigantoji might be its most picturesque. This bright red three-story pagoda is nestled between verdant mountains and has the beautiful Nachi Falls flowing right behind it. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, local legend says this Tendai Buddhist temple dates way back to the 4th century.

10. Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran

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Nasir-ol-Molk is renowned for being one of Iran’s most beautiful mosques. Dating to the end of the 19th century, it’s nicknamed the Pink Mosque due to the mass of pink, intricately decorated tiles that adorn its ceiling. Stained-glass windows bathe the interior in a rainbow of light, too, adding to the mosque’s colorful aesthetic.

11. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

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Notre Dame Cathedral has been a place of worship in France since the 12th century. It’s a huge, historical, and beautiful Medieval building with a striking façade that includes two giant Gothic towers. Tragically, the French national treasure suffered serious fire damage in 2019. It’s been closed ever since, but after extensive restorations, it is due to reopen late this year.

12. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

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Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site said to contain relics of numerous Buddhas. Sometimes called the Great Dagon Pagoda, it’s 112 meters tall and covered in gold from top to bottom. While some believe it’s over 2,500 years old, carbon dating suggests it’s more likely from the 6th to 10th centuries AD.

13. La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona’s iconic unfinished church is arguably the most distinctive place of worship on this list. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, it’s been under construction since 1882, which is almost unsurprising given how unusual it is! Inside and out, it’s a hodgepodge of Art Nouveau, Modern, and Gothic architecture with no straight lines or right angles.

14. Bete Giyorgis, Lalibela, Ethiopia

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Bete Giyorgis (the Church of Saint George) is one of 11 stone churches constructed in Roha, which today is a town called Lalibela. Unlike most places of worship, Bete Giyorgis wasn’t built on land, but in and of it. The church was famously hewn from the ground into a single piece of unbroken stone. It’s said to date from the late 12th or early 13th century AD.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.