Ancient temples with unique architecture and long historical value are always attractive destinations for tourists. Especially, when they are the largest ones, you can spend the whole day enjoying their grandeur. So, if the sanctuary is your travel interest, let’s follow us to explore the largest ancient temples around the world.

Ancient Temples in Africa

Karnak Temple Complex – Luxor, Egypt

entrance and central nave of hypostyle hall karnak temple
The entrance and central nave of the Hypostyle Hall in the Karnak temple complex.
central columns of hypostyle hall in karnak temple complex
Central columns of Karnak’s Hypostyle Hall.

Karnak Temple is the largest ancient temple complex in the world. It is located in the ancient city of Thebes, the old capital of Egypt. Surprisingly, Karnak was built continuously by about 30 pharaohs in succession. This was where the Egyptians worshiped Amun-Re (a form of the sun god), Montu (the god of war), Mut (wife of the sun god), and the pharaoh kings.

Especially, each Pharaoh wanted to put his mark on the Karnak temple with different architectural features. In which, one of Karnak’s most famous architectural works is the Hypostyle Hall with an area of ​​​​5,000 m2, possessing 134 large 24m-high columns arranged in 16 rows to support a collapsed temple roof.

Ancient Temples in Asia

Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia

buddhist monks at angkor wat
The Buddhist monks at Angkor Wat.

The Angkor Wat temple complex is a historical relic left over from the ancient capital of Angkor (Cambodia) of the Khmer empire (9-15 centuries AD). It’s recognized by UNESCO as one of the 7 wonders of the world. In fact, Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century to worship Vishnu with an area stretching over 400 square kilometers.

The Angkor Wat temple complex was a place to worship gods in Hindu legends. It featured temple-mountain architecture with long and narrow rows of caves. The temple symbolized Mount Meru, the home of the gods. At the end of the 12th century, the building gradually turned into a Buddhist temple due to the introduction and strong development of Buddhism.

Read more: 25 Interesting Facts about Angkor Wat Everyone Should Know

Swaminarayan Akshardham – New Delhi, India

Swaminarayan Akshardham one of largest ancient temples in new delhi india

Akshardham Temple, which is located on the banks of the Yamuna River, is the most magnificent stone Hindu temple-tower complex in India. The project was built by the non-profit religious organization BAPS in late 2000, completed in 2005. Indeed, Mr. Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the current head of Hindu Swaminarayan, initiated construction.

The temple is covered from top to bottom with intricate carvings of flora and fauna, dancers, musicians, and deities. In particular, the Akshardham temple is built entirely from Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble. Truly, it does not use any steel or concrete in the construction process.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – Tamil Nadu, India

Sri Ranganathaswamy, one of the largest ancient temples in Tamil Nadu India

Sri Ranganathaswamy temple complex is the place to worship the god Ranganatha (the embodiment of Vishnu). It locates in the city of Srirangam, India. In fact, Sri Ranganathaswamy has completed construction in 1987. Furthermore, the first construction in the complex dates back about 700 years. The temple is one of the largest temples in the world with an area of ​​631,000 m2 and 73m high. The building itself is a symbol of the unique Dravidian architectural style.

Borobudur Temple – Central Java, Indonesia

view from above of borobudur largest ancient temple indonesia
View from above of Borobudur Temple.

Borobudur Temple, located on the island of Java, Indonesia, is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. The temple was built within 75 years in the 8th-9th centuries under the Sailendra dynasty. Particularly, the structure of the temple is divided into three parts from low to high, representing the three realms of Sahā: the Desire Realm (kāma-dhātu), the Form Realm (rūpa-dhātu), and the Formless Realm (ārūpya-dhātu). On the cliffs on the lowest floor are sculptures depicting scenes of sins and sentient beings, while the top floor of the temple depicts the story of Buddha. It is estimated that more than 2 million stones were used during the construction of the temple. Finally, at the top of the temple is a stupa with a 35m-in-height dome in the middle from the ground.

Jetavanaramaya – North Central Province, Sri Lanka

Jetavanaramaya the world largest stupa temple

Jetavanaramaya is the world’s largest stupa that belongs to the Jetavana monastery ruins, the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. In the past, King Mahasena built the temple in the 3rd century AD. It was a symbol of opposing religious ideology. Jetavanaramaya temple has a height of 122m. In specific, the project was completed within 15 years with more than 93.3 million bricks used.

Ancient Temples in Europe

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour locates on the banks of the Moskva River near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. It is one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world, up to 130m.

The church was built by King Tsar Alexander I to commemorate the soldiers who fought and died in the Patriotic War in 1812. However, it was not until 1839 that the construction began officially. In 1990, the Russian Orthodox Church rebuilt the cathedral. The reconstruction was completed in 2000. The new church was built based on the original design but using modern building materials.

Temple of Saint Sava – Belgrade, Serbia

temple of saint sava the world largest serbian orthodox church

The Temple of Saint Sava is the largest Serbian Orthodox church in the world. Its location is on the Vračar plateau of Serbia. The church was built in 1895 to worship Saint Sava, the founder of the Serbian church. Nevertheless, most of the main structure of the temple was completed in 2004. Even, it was not until 2018 that the interior decoration was completed.

The temple has a height of approximately 82m, with a capacity of up to 10,000 people. Also, on the top of each dome, there are gold-plated crosses with a height of up to 12m.

Ancient Temples in Middle East

The Baalbek Temple Complex – Baalbek, Lebanon

temple of bacchus
The Temple of Bacchus is in good preservation in the Baalbek temple complex.
Image source: Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

In Greek and Roman time, Baalbek was known as Heliopolis, meaning the city of the Sun. Today, the city is home to the Baalbek temple complex, which is also the largest ancient Roman sanctuary.

During more than 200 years from the 1st century BC, the Romans built 3 temples Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus as places to worship Roman gods. These temples constituted the largest temple complex in the Roman Empire. In particular, Jupiter Temple is surrounded by 54 giant 20m high granite columns, about 2m in diameter. Currently, this temple only has 6 columns left. Besides that, the Temple of Bacchus is the best preserved, with 19 of the 42 Corinthian columns extant.

Ancient Temples in South America

Tikal Temple IV – Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal Temple IV in the ancient Mayan city of Tikal
Tikal is one of the world’s famous ancient cities. The lost city of the Mayan civilization has been found in the 19th century.

Temple Tikal IV is located in the middle of the rainforest of northern Guatemala. The ruins belong to an ancient Mayan city with 100,000-200,000 people living in 200-900 AD. In fact, Temple Tikal IV was built around 720 AD. It is the tallest of the 6 pyramids in the Tikal ruins with a height of 72m. Additionally, this work is a landmark marking the reign of Yik’in Chan K’awiil, the 27th king of the Tikal dynasty.

So, how are you interested in visiting the ancient temples after this post? In truth, there are a lot of people who come to explore those temples every day. Make sure you are one of them, the lucky travelers who have chances to admire the magnificence of the largest ancient temples.


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24 COMMENTS

  1. Wow these are gorgeous and so in love with the intricate carvings of the flora and fauna that one is certainly my favorite! Gorgeous!!

  2. Wow! These are fascinating. I have only visited 2 from this list and would to see the others. The Borobudur Temple – Central Java, Indonesia is actually part of our bucket list. Thank you for sharing this. I learned something new today + added a few more on my bucket list.

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