10 beautiful and distinctive American houses of worship

7. Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City

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The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City is illuminated at sunset

The Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City is the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

AP Photo/Douglas C. Pezak

At about 403,000 square feet, the towering five-block structure in downtown Salt Lake City is the largest Latter-day Saint temple by floor area. A 12-foot, 5-inch-tall statue of the Angel Moroni tops the six-towered granite edifice. The temple has been closed for major renovations since 2019, but is expected to reopen in 2026. Before its closure, Temple Square was one of the most visited tourist sites in Utah, attracting between 3 and 5 million people each year.

8. Thorncrown Church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

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Woodland setting at Thorncrown Church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, prides itself on its organic atmosphere and use of natural materials.

Whit Solomons/Thornkron Chapel

Surrounded by trees and rock formations, and made of organic materials, the 48-foot-tall church exudes a natural forest atmosphere inside, with more than 6,000 square feet of glass and 425 windows. The structure, inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, is recognized by the American Institute of Architects and was designed by E. Fay Jones of Arkansas, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones wanted to use only materials that could be carried through the woods, so the church was built mostly using 2-by-12 or smaller pieces of pressure-treated pine.

9. Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York City

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The interior of the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York City is illuminated on a sunny day

The Historic Eldridge Street Temple in Manhattan is a National Historic Landmark.

Getty Images

Built in 1887 during the exodus to the United States, the synagogue was built on the country’s Lower East Side and was the religious home of many Eastern European transplants. The handcrafted building, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1996, features a cream brick facade, horseshoe arches and brass chandeliers. It underwent a 20-year, $20 million restoration that ended in December 2007, when it was rededicated as a museum on Eldridge Street. In 2010, a 16-foot-tall circular stained glass window filled with stars was added 50 feet above the ground.

10. Byodo-in Temple in Kaneohe, Hawaii

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Byodo-in Temple in Hawaii on a cloudy day

Byodo-in Temple in Oahu, Hawaii is a replica of the 1,000-year-old Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan.

Wolfgang Kahler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Located at the foot of the Koolau Mountains on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, this Buddhist temple invites all faiths to worship, meditate or admire its beauty. The structure — a replica of the nearly 1,000-year-old Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan — was built in 1968 to commemorate the centennial of the first Japanese immigrants to come to Hawaii. The temple features a three-ton bronze sacred bell and a nine-foot statue of Amida Buddha. Small waterfalls, reflecting pools, wild peacocks and Japanese koi fish can be found in the beautifully maintained, lush grounds.

What is the most beautiful house of worship you have ever visited?

(Tags for translation) Places of worship

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