A temple (from the
Latin word templum) is a structure reserved for
religious or spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and
sacrifice. It is typically used for such buildings belonging to all
faiths where a more specific term such as church, mosque or synagogue
is not generally used in English. These include Hinduism, Buddhism,
Jainism among religions with many modern followers, as well as
other ancient religions such as Ancient Egyptian religion.
The form and function of temples is thus very variable, though they
are often considered by believers to be in some sense the "house" of
one or more deities. Typically offerings of some sort are made to the
deity, and other rituals enacted, and a special group of clergy
maintain, and operate the temple. The degree to which the whole
population of believers can access the building varies significantly;
often parts or even the whole main building can only be accessed by
the clergy. Temples typically have a main building and a larger
precinct, which may contain many other buildings.
The word comes from Ancient Rome, where 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. Templa also became associated
with the dwelling places of a god or gods. Despite the specific set of
meanings associated with the word, it has now become widely used to
describe a house of worship for any number of religions and is even
used for time periods prior to the Romans.
1 Hindu temples
3 Jain temples
4 Mesopotamian temples
5 Egyptian temples
6 Greco-Roman temples
9 Sikh temples
11 Jewish synagogues and temples
12 Christian temples
12.1 Orthodox Christianity
12.2 Western Christianity
Latter Day Saint movement
12.3.1 LDS Church
Latter Day Saint denominations
13 Masonic temples
15 See also
17 Further reading
18 External links
Angkor Wat in Cambodia, is the largest
Hindu temple in the world.
Main article: Hindu temple
See also: List of Hindu temples
Hindu temples are known by many different names, varying on region and
language, including Alayam, Mandir, Mandira, Ambalam, Gudi, Kavu,
Koil, Kovil, Déul, Raul, Devasthana, Degul, Deva Mandiraya and
Hindu temples are large and magnificent with a rich history. There is
evidence of use of sacred ground as far back as the
Bronze Age and
later the Indus Valley Civilization. Hindu temples have been built in
various countries around the world, including Cambodia, Nepal,
Mauritius, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Great Britain, the United States,
Australia, South Africa,
Malaysia and Canada.
Wat Phra Kaew,
See also: List of
Buddhist temples in Japan, Korean
Buddhist temples, and List of
Buddhist architecture in China
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.
Main article: Jain Temple
See also: List of Jain temples
Ranakpur Jain Temple, Rajasthan, India.
A Jain temple is the place of worship for Jains, the followers of
Jainism. Some famous Jain temples are Shikharji, Palitana Jain
Temples, Ranakpur Jain Temple, Shravan Belgola,
Dilwara Temples and
Lal Mandir. Jain temples are built with various architectural designs.
Jain temples in North
India are completely different from the Jain
temples in South India, which in turn are quite different from Jain
temples in West India. Additionally, a
Manastambha (meaning column of
honor) is a pillar that is often constructed in front of Jain temples.
Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq
The temple of
Mesopotamia derived from the cult of gods and deities in
the Mesopotamian religion. It spanned several civilizations; from
Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian. The most common temple
Mesopotamia is the structure of sun-baked bricks
called a Ziggurat, having the form of a terraced step pyramid with
flat upper terrace where the shrine or temple stood.
Main article: Egyptian temple
Luxor Temple, Egypt
Temple of Hathor in Dendera
Ancient Egyptian temples were meant as places for the deities to
reside on earth. Indeed, the term the Egyptians most commonly used to
describe the temple building, ḥwt-nṯr, means "mansion (or
enclosure) of a god". A god's presence in the temple linked the
human and divine realms and allowed humans to interact with the god
through ritual. These rituals, it was believed, sustained the god and
allowed it to continue to play its proper role in nature. They were
therefore a key part of the maintenance of maat, the ideal order of
nature and of human society in Egyptian belief. Maintaining maat
was the entire purpose of Egyptian religion, and thus it was the
purpose of a temple as well. Ancient Egyptian temples were also of
economic significance to Egyptian society. The temples stored and
redistributed grain and came to own large portions of the nation's
arable land (some estimate as much as 33% by the New Kingdom
period). In addition, many of these Egyptian temples utilized the
Tripartite Floor Plan in order to draw visitors to the center room.
Greek temple and Roman temple
Parthenon on Acropolis, Athens
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
The rituals that located and sited Roman temples 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
See also: List of modern pagan temples
Temple of Garni, Armenia
The Romans usually referred to a holy place of a pagan religion as
fanum; in some cases this referred to a sacred grove, in others to a
Latin writers also used the word templum. In some
cases it is hard to determine whether it was a building or an outdoor
shrine. For temple buildings of, the
Old Norse term hof is often used.
Main article: Fire temple
The Yazd Atash Behram
Zoroastrian temples may also be called the darb-e meh and Atashkadeh.
A fire temple in Zoroastrianism is the place of worship for
Zoroastrians. Zoroastrians revere fire in any form. In the Zoroastrian
religion, fire (Atar), together with clean water (Aban), are agents 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.
Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India
Main article: Gurdwara
A Sikh temple is called a Gurdwara, literally the doorway to the Guru.
Its most essential element is the presence of the Guru, Guru Granth
Gurdwara has an entrance from all sides, signifying that
they are open to all without any distinction whatsoever. The Gurdwara
has a Darbar Sahib where the
Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib is seen and a Langar
where people can eat free food. A
Gurdwara may also have a
library, nursery, and classroom. A
Gurdwara can be identified from
a distance by tall flagpoles bearing the Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag.
Temple of Kukulcan in
Chichen Itza located on top of Kukulcan pyramid.
Mesoamerican civilization usually took shape of stepped
pyramids with temples or shrines on top of the massive structure. They
are more akin to the ziggurats of
Mesopotamia than to Egyptian ones. A
single or several flights of steep steps from the base lead to the
temple that stood on plateau on top of the pyramid. The stone temple
might be square or rounded structure with door opening leading to a
cella or inner sanctum. The plateau on top of the pyramid in front of
the temple is where the ritualistic sacrifice took place. Some classic
Mesoamerican pyramids are adorned with stories about the feathered
Mesoamerican creation myths, written in the
form of hieroglyphs on the rises of the steps of the pyramids, on the
walls, and on the sculptures contained within. Notable example
Aztec Acatitlan and Mayan Chichen Itza,
Uxmal and Tikal.
Jewish synagogues and temples
A model of
Herod's Temple adjacent to the
Shrine of the Book
Shrine of the Book exhibit
at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Templi Hierosolymitani delineatio, Christian G. Hoffmann (1692–1735)
In Judaism, the ancient Hebrew texts refer not to temples, the word
having not existed yet, but to a "sanctuary", "palace" or "hall". Each
of the two ancient temples in
Jerusalem was called in the
YHWH, which translates literally as "YHWH's House."
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
Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could
Temple Mount is now the site of the
Islamic edifice, the
Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock (c. 690).
The Greek word synagogue came into use to describe Jewish (and
Samaritan) places of worship during
Hellenistic times and it, along
with the Yiddish term shul, and the original Hebrew term Beit Knesset
("House of meeting") are the terms in most universal usage.
Since the 18th Century, Jews in Western and Central Europe began to
apply the name "temple", borrowed from the French where it was used to
denote all non-Catholic prayerhouses, to synagogues. The term became
strongly associated with Reform institutions, in some of which both
congregants and outsiders associated it with the elimination of the
prayers for the restoration of the
Jerusalem Temple, though this was
not the original meaning—traditional synagogues named themselves
thus over a century before the advent of Reform, and many continued to
do so after. In American parlance, "temple" is often synonymous
with "synagogue", but especially non-Orthodox ones.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, Russia.
The word temple, however, is used frequently in the tradition of
Eastern Christianity; particularly the Eastern Orthodox Church, where
the principal words used for houses of worship are temple and church.
The use of the word temple comes from the need to distinguish a
building of the church vs. the church seen as the Body of Christ. In
Russian language (similar to other Slavic languages), while the
general-purpose word for "church" is tserkov, the term khram
(Храм), "temple", is used to refer to the church building as a
God (Khram Bozhy). The words "church" and "temple", in this
case are interchangeable; however, the term "church" (Ancient Greek:
ἐκκλησία) is far more common. The term temple (Ancient Greek:
ναός) is also commonly applied to larger churches. Some famous
churches which are referred to as temples include Hagia Sophia, Saint
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, or the
Saint Sava in Belgrade, Serbia. See also: Orthodox church (building)
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in Paris
The word temple has traditionally been rarely used in the
English-speaking Western Christian tradition. In Irish, some
pre-schism churches use the word teampall. The usual word for church
Hungarian language is templom, also deriving from the same
Latin root. In Spanish, they make a distinction between the temple
being the physical building for religious activity, and the church
being both the physical building for religious activity and also the
congregation of religious followers.
The principal words typically used to distinguish houses of worship in
Western Christian architecture are basilica, cathedral and church. The
Catholic Church has used the word temple in reference of a place of
worship on rare occasions. An example is the Roman Catholic Sagrada
Temple in Barcelona, Spain and the Roman Catholic Basilique du
Temple in Paris, France.
Beginning in the late eighteenth century, following the Enlightenment,
some Protestant denominations in France and elsewhere began to use the
word temple to distinguish these spaces from Catholic churches.
Evangelical and other Protestant churches make use of a wide variety
of terms to designate their worship spaces, such as church, tabernacle
or temple. Additionally some
Breakaway Catholic Churches
Breakaway Catholic Churches such as the
Mariavite Church in
Poland have chosen to also designate their central
church building as a temple, as in the case of the
Temple of Mercy and
Charity in Płock.
Latter Day Saint movement
Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio
Temple (Latter Day Saints)
According to Latter Day Saints, in 1832,
Joseph Smith 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,
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.
The Book of Mormon, which Latter Day Saints believe is a companion
book of scripture with the Bible, refers to temple building in the
ancient Americas by a group of people called the Nephites. Though Book
Mormon authors are not explicit about the practices in these
Nephite temples, they were patterned "after the manner of the temple
of Solomon" () and served as gathering places for significant
religious and political events (e.g. Mosiah 1-6; 3rd Nephi 11-26).
LDS temple in Salt Lake City, Utah
Temple (LDS Church)
Temple (LDS Church) and List of temples of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is a
prolific builder of "Latter-day Saint" or "Mormon" temples. There are
159 operating temples (which includes 9 previously dedicated, but
closed for renovation), 11 under construction, and 19 announced (not
yet under construction).
Latter-day Saint temples are reserved for
performing and undertaking only the most holy and sacred of covenants
and special of ordinances. They are distinct from meeting houses and
chapels where weekly worship services are held. The temples are built
and kept under strict sacredness and are not to be defiled. Thus,
strict rules apply for entrance, including church membership and
regular attendance. During the open-house period after its
construction and before the temple is dedicated, the temple is open to
the public for tours.
Latter Day Saint denominations
Various sects in the
Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith
The Church of Christ (Wightite), a
Latter Day Saint denomination
Lyman Wight following the death of Joseph Smith, built first
Mormon temple west of the Mississippi in Zodiac, Texas. about
three miles from Fredericksburg.
In 1990 or earlier a temple in Ozumba,
Mexico was built by the
Apostolic United Brethren.
On April 17, 1994 the
Independence Temple in Independence, Missouri
was open by the
Community of Christ
Community of Christ by then-church Prophet-President
Wallace B. Smith. The
Community of Christ
Community of Christ also currently owns the
original Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836 by the Church of the
Latter Day Saints (later renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter
Day Saints), in Kirtland, Ohio. The
Community of Christ
Community of Christ operates the
Kirtland Temple as a historic site.
In 2005 construction on the
Temple by the Fundamentalist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church began. It is
located just outside Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas.
However, as of April 2014, the State of
Texas took physical and legal
possession of the property. as it was used to "commit or
facilitate certain criminal conduct."
A pyramid-shaped temple near
Modena, Utah was built by the Righteous
Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A Typical Masonic Lodge
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. Lodges
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.
Göbekli Tepe, located in southern Turkey, was built in 8th millennium
BCE - 10th millennium BCE.
Temples of Sheikh, ancient temples in Sheikh, Somalia
Temple of Yeha, the oldest standing structure in Yeha, Ethiopia; built
around 700 BCE
Wolmyeongdong Natural Temple, located in South Korea, was developed
beginning in 1990 and continues to this day.
Convention allows the use of temple in the following cases:
Bahá'í temple (Mashriqu'l-Adhkárs or ‘Houses of Worship’).
Mankhim, the temple of the ethnic group the Rai, located at Aritar,
Confucian temple or
Temple of Confucius.
Shintoist jinja are normally called shrines in English in order to
distinguish them from
Buddhist temples (-tera, -dera).
Taoist temples and monasteries are called guan or daoguan (道观,
literally "place of contemplation of the Tao") in Chinese, guan being
the shortened version of daoguan.
Shrines of the traditional Chinese Ethnic Shenism are called miao, or
ancestral hall in English.
Joss house is an obsolete American term for
such kind of places of worship.
List of temples of Tamil Nadu
Temple of Divine Providence
Place of worship
Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid. University of Notre Dame. 26 May
2009. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
^ ALAYAM : The Hindu Temple;An Epitome of Hindu Culture;
G.Venkataramana Reddy; Published by Adhyaksha; Sri Ramakrishna Math;
ISBN 978-81-7823-542-4 ; Page 1
^ "New York
Temple for World Peace". Kadampanewyork.org.
1997-08-01. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
^ Babb, Lawrence, A (1996). Absent lord: ascetics and kings in a Jain
ritual culture. Published University of California Press.
^ Spencer 1984, p. 22, 44; Snape 1996, p. 9
^ Dunand and Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 89–91
^ Assmann 2001, p. 4
^ Shafer, Byron E., "Temples, Priests, and Rituals: An Overview", in
Shafer 1997, pp. 1–2
^ André Dollinger. The Ancient Egyptian Economy. pp. 5  Retrieved
June 19, 2012
^ "The Gurdwara". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
Gurdwara Requirements". worldgurudwaras.com. Retrieved 18 March
^ Koontz, Rex (2013). Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. New York,
New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500290767.
^ Michael A. Meyer, Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform
Movement in Judaism, Wayne State University Press, 1995. p. 42.
^ Baldayac, Rafael. "Iglesia y templo: diferencia". La Informacion.
Retrieved 23 January 2018.
^ "The Second Book of Nephi Chapter 5 - 5:16". Lds.org. 2012-02-21.
^ "Temples". Achoiceland.com. 2010-10-01. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
^ "List of Temples".
^ "Frequently Asked Questions".
Utah Attorney General’s Office and Arizona Attorney General’s
Office. The Primer, Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child
Abuse in Polygamous Communities. Updated June 2006. Page 23.
^ Johnson, Melvin C. (2006). Polygamy on the Pedernales:Lyman Wight's
Mormon Villages in Antebellum Texas, 1845-1858. Logan, Utah: Utah
State University Press. p. 125. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
^ a b Andrea Moore-Emmett. God's Brothel. Pince-Nez Press: June 1,
2004. ISBN 1-930074-13-1
^ "Jeffs dedicates FLDS temple site at
YFZ Ranch". The Eldorado
Success. January 11, 2005. Archived from the original on March 7,
2005. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
^ "FLDS temple nearly complete".
Provo Daily Herald (AP). 31 January
^ a b "
Texas Seizes Polygamist Warren Jeffs' Ranch". NBC News.
Associated Press. April 17, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
^ a b Carlisle, Nate (April 17, 2014). "
Texas takes possession of
polygamous ranch". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 17,
Hani, Jean, Le symbolisme du temple chrétien, G. Trédaniel (editor);
[2. éd.] edition (1978), 207 p., ISBN 2-85707-030-6
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online – distinct for the religious and anatomical terms
Comparison between Egyptian and Greek temples