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Largest Religious Buildings in the World II
Posted In: Religion Articles  5/21/12
By: Yona Williams

Pyramids are often associated with the ancient Egyptian culture and not usually spoken of as a means of religious worship, but the structures did provide a place to pray and pay homage to their gods. While you may think the largest pyramid is found in Egypt, this is not the case as you will see in this article.

Temple Emanu-El

In New York City, you will find the largest synagogue in the world. The area of the Temple Emanu-El measures 3,523 square meters. Completed in 1929, the synagogue accommodates 2,500 worshippers, which is more than St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Emanu-El congregation dates back to 1845 and is the first Reform congregation established in New York City. The current temple constructed around 1929 is still active to this day. Many prominent and wealthy families living in New York are members of this particular congregation.

When visiting the synagogue, you will encounter a Romanesque architectural style with hints of Byzantine design. Some of the elements that decorate the building include Moorish and Art Deco embellishments. The sanctuary is a sight to see, as it is covered with mosaics. The overall architecture is a representation of Eastern and Western cultures.

In the temple houses, you will find the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum, which is free to enter. Here, you can learn about the history of the congregation and local Jewish life. A highlight of the museum is a small collection of Hanukkah lamps that dates back to the 14th to the 20th centuries.

The meaning of the temple translates to 'God is with us' in Hebrew.

Great Pyramid of Cholula

The Great Pyramid of Cholula in Puebla, Mexico clocks in with a volume of 4.45 million m³.  The structure also has a base that measures 450x450m and a height of 66m. The temple-pyramid complex is rather spacious – located in the small town of Cholula – just 10 minutes outside of Puebla on the old highway to Mexico City.

During pre-Columbian times, Cholula thrived as a large city. Because of this, it served as the religious center of highland Mexico. The pyramid dates back to around the 2nd century BC and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It took four stages to actually complete the entire structure. The first two stages took place during a time known as the Classic period. The earliest pyramid was constructed around the same time as the pyramids of Teotihuacan (around 100 BC). Insect-related artwork served as a characteristic of the pyramids, which was accompanied by shades of red, yellow and black – much like the Teotihuacan style. The second Great Pyramid at Cholula was built right on top of the first one. This time, the similarities to the Teotihuacan pyramids were no longer there.

The newer pyramid was called a radial structure that had stairs that covered all four sides. This meant that the summit could be reached if you were walking from any direction. Each side measured 590 feet (or 180 meters) long. Around 1200, the Toltecs conquered the region and they took over the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and used it as their ceremonial center. They left the Great pyramid in ruin. Then, in 1359, the kingdom of Huexotzingo (who were enemies of the Aztecs) started to rule over Cholula. When the Spanish conquered Cholula, the Great Pyramid was in ruin for so long, they overlooked the significant site and thought it was simply a natural hill.


 

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