The 12 Most Beautiful Temples Around the World

The 12 Most Beautiful Temples Around the World

No matter the religion, temples have played a pivotal role since the dawn of some of the earliest civilisations. Shaping both communities and history, they have long served a purpose for people around the world, often acting as a haven for those in search of spiritual enlightenment. While these magnificent buildings have continually formed the foundations of countless religions, they have also become a place of solace, contemplation and architectural wonder. Now, these spiritual structures act as a physical testament to the devotion, skill and sense of togetherness felt throughout the ages. Whether it’s the depths of Sri Lanka’s Dambulla Cave Temple (a spectacular cave monastery) or the quiet of Kinkaku-ji amid the chaos of Japan's Kyoto streets, these historical monuments are well worth a stop off during your trip. Read on for a roundup of our top 12 picks for the most beautiful temples around the world that you need to see and experience...


  1. Philae Temple, Egypt
  2. The Pantheon, Rome
  3. Maison Carree in Nimes, France
  4. Temple of Hephaestus, Greece
  5. Hampi, India
  6. Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
  7. Kinkaku-ji, Japan
  8. Tikal, Guatemala
  9. Santiago Baháʼí Temple, Chile
  10. Borobudur, Java
  11. Pura Beji, Bali
  12. Preah Khan, Cambodia


Philae Temple, Egypt

Lap up the astonishing beauty of Philae Temple, as countless travellers journeying to Egypt have done before. The magnificent building stands proud on its own island but its location wasn’t always so secure. In fact, the Philae Temple nearly plummeted into the watery depths of the Nile when the high Aswan dam was built in the 1960s, but thanks to a joint effort recovery mission between the Egyptian government and UNESCO, one of Egypt’s most captivating temples was saved. Each hieroglyph-embossed block was lovingly dismantled, labelled and reassembled (jigsaw puzzle style) on the higher grounds of Agilkia Island, ensuring the mysteries of this ancient site were protected and preserved for keen explorers, eager to learn more about one of the most beautiful temples around the world.

Temple in Egypt


The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon acts as the beating heart of the Ancient City of Rome, with its narrow lanes veining through the metropolis. You’ll inevitably find yourself gravitating towards this mammoth structure, like Romans past and present. The original temple was destroyed, apart from the façade, which has been the cause for century-long unanswered questions surrounding the rebuild. Nowadays, the cobbled streets line their way towards this towering architectural feat, as it cast shadows on the bustling Piazza della Rotonda below. This focal point for the community has remained a constant throughout the ages, firmly cementing itself as one of the most iconic landmarks in the Eternal City (alongside the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain) and well worth a mention on this list of the most beautiful temples around the world.


Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France

On the topic of ancient Roman temples, you’ll be able to get your fix of Italian architecture even when journeying beyond the realm of Roma. Cross into southern France, and you’ll discover a treasure trove of traditional Roman architecture in what is perhaps the most Rome-like city other than its namesake; Nîmes. This former Roman colony, founded during the first century B.C is a culturally compelling must-stop spot and home to Maison Carrée or ‘square house’, France’s very own ancient Roman temple. This whitewashed historical landmark is a prime example of Vitruvian architecture, blended effortlessly with the local limestone, classic pillars and intricate carvings adorning the twisting Italian streets.


Temple of Hephaestus, Greece

A temple named after the ancient god of fire, Hephaestus, and also dedicated to his sister Athena (the goddess of war and wisdom), has perched over the agora of Athens for over 2,500 years. Its boldness and staggering structure has withstood biblical-like earthquakes, soaring temperatures and countless invasions, but the Greeks swore never to rebuild this or any other damaged holy site so the marble-built temple still wears the untouched ruins as a reminder of the war. Like a beacon atop the Agoraios Kolonos hill, it lures travellers from far and wide, who are eager to uncover the history embedded within. Earning its rightful place as one of the most beautiful temples around the world, this is a site not to be missed.

Temple in Greece


Hampi, India

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and city of ruins, Hampi is nestled among the shadowed hills and rolling valleys of Karnataka. Temple touring this historical site couldn’t be easier, as keen explorers will find themselves spoilt for choice with 14 temples to wander between, not to mention some 500 ancient monuments, busy street markets and viewpoints that immerse you in this vast city. Unpeel the layers of history with trips to the famous Vijaya Vittala Temple with its stone chariot or trace the vibrant murals coating the walls and ceiling of the Virupaksha Temple. You’ll find so much more than just ruins in Hampi.


Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka

Those seeking solitude and contemplation will no doubt find themselves drawn to the spiritual site of Dambulla Cave Temple in Sri Lanka. It’s easily one of the most beautiful temples around the world and countless travellers make the sacred pilgrimage to this cave turned monastery, just as countless worshipers have for the last 22 centuries. While its exterior may seem unassuming, with a somewhat out of place 98ft-high golden Buddha statue, it’s the inside that counts. Set into the rock face, this unusual cave-temple is home to five sanctuaries (all of which are worth checking out) with spectacular paintings on the walls and ceilings and 18th-century relics that tell of a rich Sri Lankan history spanning the ages.


Kinkaku-ji, Japan

Kinkaku-Ji Temple, or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, has become a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and travellers alike, as they journey to this haven in what was once the capital city of Japan: Kyoto. Adorned with gold leaf to protect the buildings from decay, this three-story structure incorporates differing architectural styles and natural wood materials, creating a Zen Buddhist temple that’s faced fires and rebuilds numerous times – including as recently as the 1950s. Now it stands serenely, protected and appreciated by many and surrounded by beautiful and well-manicured gardens complete with tranquil ponds. Its design, rich in symbolism, earns Kinkaku-ji its spot among the most beautiful temples around the world.


Tikal, Guatemala

Set in the heart of a Guatemalan jungle, Tikal is a temple that buzzes with tropical energy and exotic bird chatter. The complex has grown in size and stature throughout the ages and the iconic temples dominate the skyline of Tikal, luring travellers from far and wide to this Guatemalan haven. The site’s towering staircase juts up from the forested landscape and looks as though it has been there for centuries, and there are many ruins still lying beneath the surface, awaiting excavation. Take a tour of the site with an expert local guide and don’t miss a visit to the Plaza of the Seven Temples where Maya rulers once performed ritual performances.

Tikal temple


Santiago Baháʼí Temple, Chile

Drawing its architectural inspiration from Japanese bamboo woven baskets and Sufi whirling and twirling dancers, the Santiago Baháʼí Temple in Chile is unlike any other. This modernist masterpiece is perched in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, on the outskirts of the vibrant and busied city of Santiago, and offers a serene stop-off for travellers journeying here. With its mountainous surroundings and reflecting pools, this complex-curved temple of light acts as an invitation for explorers seeking spiritual contemplation and an architectural pilgrimage. After 14 years of construction, the building now acts as a home for all faiths and cultures, meaning all that travel here can take something away from the peaceful visit.


Borobudur, Java

We couldn’t list some of the most beautiful temples around the world without a nod to the incredible and mammoth Borobudur Temple on the Indonesian island of Java. One of the world’s largest Buddhist monuments, it is a whopping 765 feet by 765 feet, and has over 500 ornate statues depicting the Buddha. This is a treasure trove temple lay hidden under a mountain of volcanic ash (from nearby Mt Merapi) and overgrown greenery and wasn’t re-discovered until 1814. Now it’s a tribute to medieval Indonesian art and still feels reminiscent of a world gone by, with many rich myths and legends to uncover. To journey here is to travel to the Garden of Java and experience one of Indonesia’s most valued treasures.


Pura Beji, Bali

While this Balinese gem hasn’t received the same number of tourists as the likes of Besakih, Tanah Lot, Ulun Danua Bratan or Uluwatu, the Pura Beji Temple offers an equally authentic and impressive temple touring experience. Found in the heart of the unassuming Sangsit Village, in the country’s Buleleng Regency region, the colourful architectural style of northern Bali feels ever apparent, with intricate sandstone carvings coating almost the entire temple. From the main gate through to the main court, curious travellers can trace the outlines of the carvings, including intricate vines and flowers, against a typical Balinese backdrop of green vegetation and cloudless skies (out of monsoon season of course).


Preah Khan, Cambodia

Last but by no means least, is the Preah Khan temple complex which teeters on the northern edge of the Angkor Archaeological Park. Similar in style to Ta Prohm, but with the promise of the road less travelled by fellow tourists, the building features ornate carvings and columns, surrounded by trees. If you time you visit outside of peak hours, you can explore the temples' structure solo, without another snap-happy tourist in sight, which is really how this site should be appreciated. Whether you’re exploring the huge site of Angkor by tuk-tuk or bike, you’ll be inundated with viewing spots and moments of serenity, as you contemplate a trip well spent journeying to one of the most beautiful temples around the world.

Temple in Angkor Wat