Essential Architecture- Search by building type


Temple of Hephaestus, a Doric Greek temple in Athens with the original entrance facing east, 449 BC (western face depicted)

The Angkor Wat  Hindu temple in Cambodia, with the entrance facing west, is the largest temple in the world (early 12th century)

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem , an Islamic shrine at the Temple Mount with 4 entrances in the cardinal directions, stands on the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, Israel

Longshan Temple in Taipei City with the entrance facing west; an example of architecture with southern Chinese influences commonly seen in older buildings in Taiwan (1738)

The Ecclesia, the Rosicrucian Healing Temple with the entrance facing east, Oceanside, California, United States, 1920; it's a solar temple dedicated to the coming Age of Aquarius.

A temple (from the Latin word templum) is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A ‘’templum’’ constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word “ template,’’ a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out on the ground by the augur. Though a templum, technically speaking, is not a “house of the gods” but a diagram that for the Romans linked the geometries of heaven and earth, it was also indicative of a dwelling place of a god or gods. This tradition, of course, dates back to prehistoric times. For the ancient Egyptians, the word pr could refer not only to a house, but also to a sacred structure since it was believed that the gods resided in houses.[1] The word ‘temple’ (which dates to about the 6th century BCE), despite the specific set of meanings associated with the religion of the ancient Rome, has now become quite widely used to describe a house of worship for any number of religions and is even used for time periods prior to the Romans. Stated differently, temple was once a species of sacred structures; today it is, in the English language, often used as a genus.

Ancient Near East
É is the Sumerian for "house" or "temple", written ideographically with the cuneiform sign 𒂍
The term temen appearing frequently after É in names of ziggurats is translated as "foundation pegs", apparently the first step in the construction process of a house, compare for example verses 551-561 of the account of the construction of E-ninnu:

He stretched out lines in the most perfect way; he set up (?) a sanctuary in the holy uzga. In the house, Enki drove in the foundation pegs, while Nance, the daughter of Eridu, took care of the oracular messages. The mother of Lagac, holy Jatumdug, gave birth to its bricks amid cries (?), and Bau, the lady, first-born daughter of An, sprinkled them with oil and cedar essence. En and lagar priests were detailed to the house to provide maintenance for it. The Anuna gods stood there full of admiration.
Temen has been occasionally compared to Greek temenos "holy precinct", but since the latter has a well established Indo-European etymology (see temple), the comparison is either mistaken, or at best describes a case of popoular etymology or convergence. In E-temen-an-ki, "the temple of the foundation pegs of heaven and earth", temen has been taken to refer to an axis mundi connecting earth to heaven (thus re-enforcing the Tower of Babel connection), but the term re-appears in several other temple names, referring to their physical stability rather than, or as well as, to a mythological world axis, compare the Egyptian notion of Djed.

A ziggurat (Akkadian ziqqurrat, D-stem of zaqāru "to build on a raised area") was a temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley and Iran, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding stories or levels. Some modern buildings with a stepped pyramid shape have also been termed ziggurats.

Dur-Untash, or Choqa Zanbil, built in 13th century BC by Untash Napirisha and located near Susa, Iran is one of the world's best-preserved ziggurats.

Jewish synagogues and temples
In Judaism, the ancient Hebrew texts refer not to temples, the word having not existed yet, but to a "sanctuary", "palace" or "hall". (The Jerusalem temples were called Beit Hamikdash, the Holy House or more commonly, Beth El (the House of God)or Beth Yahweh (the House of Yahweh)). The Greek word synagogue became current during Hellenistic times and it (along with the Yiddish term shul) remained the convention until the middle of the nineteenth century when the word ‘temple’ began to be used, almost exclusively by the followers of Reform Judaism, as in Temple Emanu-El, or the Temple Beth-El. The word referred not to Roman temples, but to the Temple of Solomon. Orthodox Judaism considers this inappropriate as it does not consider synagogues a replacement for the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the site where the First Temple of Solomon and the Second Temple were built. At the center of the structure was the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter. The Temple Mount is now the site of the Islamic mosque, the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem  (c. 690).

Two different Jewish temples actually occupied this mountain at different times. The first was proposed by King David but was not built until his son, Solomon gained the throne. David made great preparation for the temple but, according to the Bible was not allowed to because of the wars he had fought. This temple stood for a number of years until it was destroyed by the invading armies of Nebuchadnezzar when Jerusalem fell and was taken into exile as captives. It was at this time that the Ark of the Covenant, which occupied the Holy of Holies (the inner sactuary of the temple)was believed to have disappeared from history). Roughly some 70 years later, under the leadership of Jewish leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah and with the blessing of the Persian King Cyrus, the temple was again rebuilt and stood until the time of Jesus Christ, during the reign of King Herod. Herod refurbished the temple, built my Ezra/Nehemiah, making it into a grandiose building far excelling its previous glory and splendor. Unfortunately, this notoriety was short-lived, as the building was raized by the Romans, some 70 years later. The so-called "Wailing Wall" in Jerusalem, is actually part of the original retaining wall built around the temple mount as a foundation for the original temple by King Solomon.

Since 1979, a Texas based religious denomination, known as The House of Yahweh, under the leadership of it's Pastor, Elder Yisrayl B. Hawkins has promoted plans to rebuild the Jewish Temple on it's original site. Due to the volatile political climb in the Middle East, this has understandably been a controversial undertaking. Their proposal suggests that the Jewish Temple, (called "La Bayit Yahweh" or "The House of Yahweh") was originally located just north of the Muslim mosque's present location, it's main door directly in line with the Old City's "Golden Gate" (since blocked). This suggestion is important in the fact that it means the Muslim mosque need not be removed in order for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt, but instead they would share the Holy Site. The House of Yahweh points to prophesy in the book of Ezekiel to support their proposal, and has gone so far as to draw up patented and copyprotected blue prints based on the description given in Ezekiel and shown it to Israeli and Palestinian leaders for consideration. According to Hawkins, these leaders are seriously considering his proposal. This plan, would certainly seem to go a long way in establishing peace in this area of the world since both of these major religions lay claim to the Holy City of Jerusalem. Jewish tradition claims the temple mount, Mount Moriah as the site where the patriarch Abraham tested by being asked to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Islamic tradition, which actually shares quite a bit in common with Judaism, also claims this site as the place where the prophet Muhammad ascended into Heaven.

Greco-Roman temples
Though today we call most Greek religious buildings "temples," the ancient pagans would have referred to a temenos, or sacred precinct. Its sacredness, often connected with a holy grove, was more important than the building itself, as it contained the open air altar on which the sacrifices were made. The building which housed the cult statue in its naos was originally a rather simple structure, but by the middle of the 6th century BCE had become increasingly elaborate. Greek temple architecture had a profound influence on ancient architectural traditions.

The rituals that located and sited the temple were performed by an augur through the observation of the flight of birds or other natural phenomenon. Roman temples usually faced east or toward the rising sun, but the specifics of the orientation are often not known today; there are also notable exceptions, such as the Pantheon which faces north. In ancient Rome, only the native deities of Roman mythology had a templum; any equivalent structure for a foreign deity was called a fanum.

Hindu temples
These may also be called by other names, including mandir or mandira, koil or kovil, devasthana and devalaya, depending on region and language.
A Hindu temple can be a separate structure or a part of a building. A feature of most temples is the presence of murtis of the Hindu deity to whom the temple is dedicated. They are usually dedicated to one primary deity, called the presiding deity, and other subordinate deities associated with the main deity. However, some temples are dedicated to several deities, and some have symbols instead of a murti.

The Gopuram of temples, in south India, are adorned with icons depicting a particular story surrounding the temple's deity.

Frontal-right view of the Brihadeshwara temple of Dravidian style

Buddhist temples
They include the structures called stupa, wat and pagoda in different regions and languages. Temples in Buddhism represent the pure land or pure environment of a Buddha. Traditional Buddhist Temples are designed to inspire inner and outer peace. The basic design of a circle set upon a square is to signify a connecting point between tranquil heaven and chaotic earth.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

Sikh temples
A gurdwara (Punjabi: ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ, gurdu'ārā or ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, gurdvārā), meaning "the doorway to the Guru", is the Sikh place of worship and may be referred to as a Sikh temple. The one of the most famous gurdwara is the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, in northern India.

The Harimandir Sahib.

Ayyavazhi temples

Pathi (Tamil :பதி - "The place where God is") is the name asserted to the primary centres of congregational worship for the South Indian religious system of Ayyavazhi, having a relatively large structure like that of a temple. They are five in number.

The Pathis obtain their significance from the fact that Ayya Vaikundar and his religious activities were historically associated with them. There are five Pathis, ("Five places where God is") which appeared during the time of Ayya Vaikundar. According to Akilattirattu Ammanai the source of Ayyavazhi mythology, these Pathis are the places where Ayya Vaikundar performed the Avatara Ekanai. These are the sacred places for the people of Ayyavazhi. These five Pathis are collectively called as Panchappathis. Some times Vakaippathi and Avatharappathi is added to this list.

Architecture and Structure

Generally Pathis were structurally different from Nizhal Thangals. Unlike Nizhal Thangals the Pathis were not only considered as mere worship centers but also as holy places. Also each Pathis have their own significance due to the different activities of Vaikundar at each Pathis. In addition to the panividais at Palliyarai and Sivayi Medai, in each Pathis there are different Panividais performed at the exact spots where Ayya performed the religious activities. Also these particular places were considered sacred too.

Also in addition all Pathis will have a ' Pal Purai ' where the Nithya pal is consecrated every day for Ayya. Also all pathis has a Flag mast and a number of vahanas which are used to carry Ayya as processions during the festivals. And at present Swamithoppe and Ambalappathi has temple cars.

The Palliyarai designing in Pathis were different from that of Nizhal Thangals. No chairs or any other wooden structure are used but instead strictly rised pedastals in which a saffron cloth is wrapped. Above it there will be an armour-shaped brass structure which is called as Nama Vel ' is erected and a saffron or silk cloth wrapped around it forming the shape of an asana in which it is believed that, "The invisible God is seated". In all other Pathis except Ambalappathi, saffron cloth is used. The Sivaye Medai in Pathis are similar to that of Nizhal Thangals.

All Pathis has an inner corridor around the Palliyarai and outer corridor surrounding the whole Pathi. The outer corridor is called as ' Santhana Veethi '.

The Structure erected above the Vatakku Vasal where Ayya Vaikundar performed the Tavam

Zoroastrian temples
A Zoroastrian Fire Temple is a place of worship for Zoroastrians.
Although Zoroastrians revere fire in any form, the temple fire is not literally for the reverence of fire: In the Zoroastrian religion, fire (see Atar), together with clean water (see Aban), is an agent of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies [is] regarded as the basis of ritual life", which "are essentially the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple [fire] is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity" (Boyce, 1975:455).
For, one "who sacrifices unto fire with fuel in his hand [...], is given happiness" (Yasna 62.1; Nyashes 5.7)

The Yazd Atash Behram

Christian temples

LDS temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Dedicated 1893.

Since a temple, in its traditional sense is viewed as a dwelling place of a god or gods and was in the days of early Christianity associated with the pagans, the word is rarely used in the mainstream of the Christian tradition where God is not believed to live in a church but is defined as omnipresent. The principal words for Christian architecture are: basilica, cathedral and church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church the use of the word temple is not at all unusual, but in English the term church is often substituted, and in Slavic languages 'church' and 'temple' are used quite interchangeably. For example Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, after the Enlightenment, some Protestant denominations in France and elsewhere began to use the word "temple" to distinguish these spaces from a Catholic church.

Other related sects
Various other Latter Day Saint denominations also have temples. An example is the Independence Temple at Independence, Missouri that was built by the Community of Christ by then church prophet-president Wallace B. Smith. The Community of Christ also currently owns the original Kirtland Temple, which it operates as a historic site.

Temples in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints & related movements
In 1832, Joseph Smith, Jr. received a revelation to restore the practice of temple worship, in a "house of the Lord". The Kirtland Temple was the first temple of the Latter Day Saint movement and the only one completed in Smith's lifetime, although the Nauvoo Temple was partially complete at the time of his death. The schisms stemming from a succession crisis have led to differing views about the role and use of temples between various groups with competing succession claims.

Temples of LDS church
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a prolific builder of "Latter-day Saint" or "Mormon" temples. Currently there are 124 operating temples, 10 under construction, and 4 announced (not yet under construction). Latter-day Saint temples are reserved only for the most holy and sacred of the covenant for performing special ordinances, and are distinct from meetinghouses where weekly worship services are held. The Temples are built and kept under strict sacredness and not to be defiled, thus, strict rules for entrance.

Community of Christ temple in Independence, Missouri, USA. Dedicated 1994

Masonic temples
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization with its origins in the eighteenth century whose membership is held together by a shared set of moral and metaphysical ideals. Freemasons meet as a Lodge. Lodge's meet in a Masonic Temple, Masonic Center or a Masonic Hall, such as Freemasons Hall, London. Some confusion exists as Masons usually refer to a Lodge meeting as being in Lodge. (56176 bytes)
Freemasons Hall, London.

Other religions
Though the word "temple" is used broadly, one should use it with discretion in the context of some religions. A mosque for example, should never be called a temple. Convention allows the use of temple in the following cases:

Shintoist temple (jinja).
Bahá'í temple (Mashriqu'l-Adhkárs or ‘Houses of Worship’).
Mankhim, the temple of the ethnic group the Rai , located at Aritar, Sikkim.

Temple as Metaphor
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Please improve the article by adding references. See the talk page for details. (August 2007)

The word 'temple' can be interpreted as metaphorical in English translations of the Bible, synonymous with Godhead. Two examples in the New Testament are: 1) Jesus and the money changers and 2) description of the rending of the veil covering the temple (in advance of his resurrection as the Christ) at the death of Jesus in Matthew 27:51.