and religious meeting houses
are important gathering places
because they preserve culture
and spiritual traditions.
People come together inthese sacred places to build a community and to reach across the generations. They are places where people make connections with one another and with life and the world as a whole. Spiritual buildingsstand out because of their unique architecture. They are very different from the buildings we live and work in. Spiritual buildings express the traditions and cultures of the people who create, changeand use their space.
Churches, for example, often have tall spires and steeples that reach towards the heavens. Stained glass windows create beautiful light inside. These windows often tell storiesfrom the Bible in picture form. The cross is a central part of Christian architecture. The ground plan of many churches is in the shape of the cross. Some churches may be highly decorated. Others maybe entirely plain or only have a single cross inside. Almost all create an atmosphere that helps prayer and contemplation.
Mosques are free of ornament and decoration. Though plain, the buildingsare always beautiful in their architecture. They reflect Allah’s command in the Koran not to worship any image or icon. Many mosques have a dome. Most have a minaret. This is a tall, slim tower whichstands near to the main building. The call to prayers is made five times a day from a platform near the top of the minaret. Every mosque in the world faces towards Mecca, the most holy city of theIslamic world and the city towards which all Muslims face when they pray.
Synagogues may be harder to locate than churches or mosques. Synagogues often have no decoration on their buildings. Thebuildings may come in many different designs and forms. Sometimes a Star of David or a scripture in Hebrew will be the only clues that the building is a synagogue at all. No matter what the synagogue...