Throughout history, our civilization has always been drawn to building the tallest and most striking structures. It’s hard to say which were built as the result of megalomania, and which were simply the effect of the desire to leave a permanent mark on this world. The pyramids were a way for the Egyptians to brag about their wealth and ahead-of-their-time technology. Nowadays, engineering techniques allow us to commemorate religious figures and beliefs through gargantuan buildings, much bigger than the Sphinx, raising monuments that have become the symbols of various towns and even countries of the Globe.
Faith and religion have the power to give birth to exquisite beauty, regardless of the geographical position, and religious destinations draw more and more tourists each year, from the already well-known statue of Christ with outstretched arms to unusual pieces of architecture. Regardless of your beliefs, you cannot argue that religious sites are fascinating. They stand as proof to mankind’s determination and skills when it comes to their faith and putting their ideas in practice.
10. Jesus Blessing Monument, Indonesia: $540,000
Standing proud on top of a hill called Royal Highland in Southern Manado, Indonesia, it is safe to say that this particular statue of Christ is unlike anything else in the world. The very symbol of the city, the Jesus Blessing Monument depicts the Lord Savior in a whole different manner, built on a 20 degree angle that offers the illusion of flight. The 98.4 foot tall statue was built by one of the richest men in Asia, Ciputra, a billionaire real estate developer. An estimated 25 tons of metal fiber and 35 tons of steel were used to erect the monument, the tallest statue of Christ in Asia, which cost $540,000 to build.
9. Christ of the Pacific, Peru: $1 Million
It was president Alan Garcia’s wish to erect a statue, declaring that it was his personal dream to leave something behind, a symbol that would represent Peru and bless Lima. With a striking resemblance to Rio de Janeiro’s statue of Christ, Christ of the Pacific dominates Lima from atop a hill, rising 121 feet, which includes the 49 foot pedestal. The statue was actually built in Rio de Janeiro, then transported to Peru, and is equipped with a spectacular lighting system in 26 colors. The president personally contributed $37,000 of the total cost construction, which reached $1 million.
8. Virgin of Socavon, Bolivia: $1.3 Million
As the name implies, Ouro, meaning “gold,” is a gold mining city in Bolivia, at the foothills of the Andes. In a constant competition with Brazil, Bolivia was not satisfied with the world’s second tallest statue of Christ. It just had to have the tallest religious statue in the Southern Hemisphere. The Virgin of Socavon is 150 feet high, 23 feet taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, and just a little shorter than the Statue of Liberty. Inaugurated in 2013 during the Ouro Carnival that welcomed more than 30,000 people dancing in procession on the streets, the statue depicts the patron saint of the city, and cost $1.3 million to complete.
7. Cristo de la Concordia, Bolivia: $1.5 Million
Cristo de la Concordia, meaning Christ of Peace, is a religious monument in Cochabamba, Bolivia. When the steel and cement structure was finalized in 1994, it was the tallest statue of Christ in the world. Unfortunately for Bolivians, it was recently surpassed by Poland’s Christ the King. The colossal structure is 108 feet tall without the bases, only a few feet taller than Christ the Redeemer. However, it is still the third largest statue in the Southern Hemisphere. Perched on San Pedro Hill, the statue is open on Sundays for visitors to climb up to the top for breathtaking 360 degrees views of the neighboring Cochabamba Valley and Tunari, the highest peak in the area.
6. Cristo Rei, Portugal: $1.5 Million
A distinctive religious structure due to its abnormally tall pedestal as compared to the size of the actual statue of Christ, with a base of 170 feet out of a total height of 360 feet, it was inspired by Christ the Redeemer, and is dedicated to peace. The idea of building Cristo Rei, meaning Christ the King, dates back to the time of World War 2, when the cardinals of Portugal declared that if the country will be protected by war, they will erect a monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus facing Lisbon. Since Portugal was indeed safe from war, the monument was inaugurated in 1959.
5. Christ the King, Poland: $1.5 Million
Located in Swiebodzin, a town in western Poland close to the German border, the statue of Christ the King can be seen from the highway connecting Warsaw to Berlin. The idea of the statue belongs to a priest called Zawadzki, who wished to create a new pilgrimage place. With a 6.5 foot gold-plated crown, Christ the King rises 118 feet without the pedestal, making it the tallest statue of Christ in the world, 9.8 feet taller than Christ the Redeemer, which it copies. Finalized in 2010, it took five years to build, and cost $1.5 million; money collected from the donations of 21,000 of the residents of the town.
4. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil: $3.5 Million
Listed as one of The Seven New Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer is the symbol of Brazil. Perched on top of Mount Corvocado, meaning “hunchback”, the statue of Christ with outstretched arms is perhaps the most famous religious monument in the world. The idea of building a statue of Jesus Christ on top of Mount Corvocado dates back from the middle of the 18th century, but it wasn’t until 1921 that the Catholic organizations in Rio de Janeiro finally decided to put it into practice. Made from steel skeleton reinforced concrete, the statue was completed in 1931, and measures 98.4 feet without the pedestal, which counts another 26 feet. Weighing over 1,100 tons, the head alone weighs 36 tons, it was designed by Brazilian architect Heitor da Silva Costa, and executed by French sculptor Paul Landowskii, and is the biggest Art Deco work in the world. It took nine years to build and it cost the equivalent of $3.3 million in 2014.
3. Lotus Temple, India: $20 Million
Perhaps the most intriguing temple in the world, and on of the most striking in India, the Baha’i Temple in New Delhi is a monument designed like a lotus blossom. Construction began in 1980 and took six years to complete. Designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba, the temple was officially dedicated to the Unity of God, Unity of Religion and Unity of Mankind in 1986. The 131 feet tall structure is covered in 33,000 square feet of marble quarried from Greek mines. Renowned for its design, the Baha’i House of Worship is also known as the Mother Temple of Indian religion, and is one of the most visited buildings and one of the most spectacular religious monuments in the world.
2. Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland: $25 Million
Named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, an Icelandic poet and clergyman, and one of the most influential pastors during the Age of Orthodoxy, Hallgrimskirkja literally means the Church of Hallgrimur. Standing tall over Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, the Lutheran Parish Church is the tallest and most remarkable building in the country, at 244 feet. Boasting an unusual modern Nordic design, it took 38 years to complete the building. Constructions began in 1945, and the tower was the first one to be erected, long before the actual church was finalized. It cost $25 million to complete, including the gargantuan 25 ton pipe organ found inside, out of which 60% was covered by private donations. The bell tower, with three bells, can be accessed via elevator and offers great views of the city, straight from the capital’s city center.
1. Giant Buddha of Leshan, China: $33 Million
There’s a Chinese local saying; “the mountain is a Buddha and the Buddha is a mountain”. When it comes to their beliefs, the Chinese would go to any length to see their ideas take shape. The tallest Buddha statue in the world was carved in a vertical cliff face in the 8th century in the Szechuan Province in China. The idea belongs to a Buddhist monk called Haitong, and constructions began in the year 713. Work on the immense statue were finalized in 803 by the Chinese government and the monk’s disciples. The giant seated Maitreya Buddha with hands resting on his knees overlooks Mount Emel and the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu, and Qingyi rivers. Also known as Dafo, it rises 233 feet tall, with 92 foot wide shoulders. Almost 1,300 years old, it is hard to say how much it cost to build back then, but the $33 million spent on maintenance work just for a face lift might give you an idea.