1. Paro Taktsang, Bhutan
Paro Taktsang (also known as "The Tiger's Nest") is a sacred Himalayan Buddhist site and temple situated alongside a mountain cliff in the upper Paro valley, Bhutan. It was built in 1692 and sits at an elevation of 10,240 feet.
2. The Hurva Synagogue, Jerusalem
The Hurva Synagogue (also known as Hurvat Rabbi Yehudah he-Hasid) is located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. First founded in the 17th century, the synagogue was later destroyed and laid in ruins for nearly 150 years. It was rebuilt in 1864 and again destroyed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The new synagogue was dedicated in March 2010.
3. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta, USA
The BAPS (an acronym for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the sixth (and single largest) traditional Hindu stone temple built outside of India. The temple is 32,000 square feet large and sits across 30 acres of land.
4. Karnak Temple Complex, Egypt
Building on the Karnak Temple — a large complex comprised of decayed temples and chapels, among other buildings, near the village of El-Karnak in Egypt — began during the reign of Pharaoh Senusret, dating back as early as 2000 B.C. and built over as many as 2000 years. The Karnak Temple complex is the largest ancient religious site in the world.
5. Meenakshi Amman Temple, India
The Meenakshi Amman Temple is a sprawling Hindu temple that sits along the southern bank of the Vaigai river in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. The city of Madurai is 2500 years old. The temple features an estimated 33,000 sculptures, and an average of 15,000 people visit the complex each day.
6. The New Synagogue, Berlin, Germany
The New Synagogue was built in Berlin between 1859-1866. The architecture was inspired by Moorish design and looks not unlike La Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It is one of the few synagogues to survive Kristallnacht, though it was badly damaged during WWII and has been subsequently reconstructed.
7. Qolşärif Mosque, Kazan, Russia
This mosque was built in the Kazan Kremlin in the 16th century and was named after professor and religious Imam Qolşärif. The design is consistent with Volga Bulgaria design of the times, though there are also elements of Renaissance and Ottoman design to the structure. The mosque can hold 6000 worshippers.
8. San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy
The San Vitale church in Ravenna is considered one of the most important structures designed in early Christian Byzantine style in western Europe. Building began in the year 526 and was completed in 547.
9. Bahá'í Temple, Sydney, Australia
This Bahá'í temple in Sydney, Australia, was built in 1961, and, like other Bahá'í Houses of Worship, is built in a nine-side circular shape. The dome, while not required by scripture, is present in all current Houses of Worship around the world.
10. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. It is the eighth largest mosque in the world; during Eid (two Islamic festivals) the mosque can be visited by over 40,000 people. The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the largest carpet in the entire world at 60,570 feet.
11. Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow, Russia
The official name for Saint Basil's Cathedral is "Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat." The cathedral is Russian Orthodox and is located in Moscow's famous Red Square, at the geometric center of the city. The church was forcefully secularized by the Russian government in 1929 and remains a federal property.
12. Qurikancha, Cusco, Peru
Qurikancha was the single most important temple of the Inca Empire and was dedicated to the Sun God Inti. The walls and floors of the temple were once covered in gold, but the Incan people were forced to turn it over to the Spanish, who'd required a ransom to save the life of the Incan leader Atahualpa. Spanish colonists later built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, destroying the temple and using the ruins as the foundation for the church.
13. Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia
Las Lajas Sanctuary is built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River in Colombia. It was built between 1916 and 1949.
14. Harmandir Sahib, India
The Harmandir Sahib, colloquially referred to as the "Golden Temple," is a Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship) in the city of Amritsar in the Punjab region of India. It was completed in 1604. The temple is visited by over 100,000 worshippers each day.
15. Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China
The Temple of Heaven is a Taoist (and Heaven worship) site in Beijing, China constructed early in the 15th century, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor. The famous Forbidden City was also built during this time.
16. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
The Saint-Chapelle cathedral in France is a medieval gothic chapel which dates back to the 13th century. It has one of the most extensive collections of 13th century stained glass in the entire world.
17. Sultanahmet Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Also popularly known as The Blue Mosque, the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul was built from 1609 to 1616 and is considered to be the last great mosque of the Classical period of Ottoman architecture. The interior of the mosque features more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles.