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Jun 12 β€’ 14 tweets β€’ 5 min read β€’ Read on X
A thread of religious architectural wonders that most people haven't heard of... 🧡

1. Church of the Transfiguration: an entirely wooden, 22-dome church built without a single nail... Image
Part of the Kizhi Pogost, Russia β€” the world's tallest wooden structure. Built to gather Christians in the remote Karelia region.

The current, restored church used metal nails, but the 18th century original didn't. Instead, it used horizontal logs that interlock in the corners. Image
2. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Another of the wondrous, Byzantine-influenced domes of the Russian Empire (modern-day Kharkiv, Ukraine).

But this one was demolished by Stalin on his anti-religious campaign that razed thousands of churches. Image
3. Vank Cathedral

One of the world's most beautiful churches is surprisingly in Iran β€” built by Armenian Christians in 1606 after they fled the Ottoman–Safavid War.

They built it like an Iranian mosque, but with frescoes of the Biblical stories... Image
4. Church of Saint George

One of 11 rock-cut churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, carved directly down into solid rock in the 12th century.

It was an effort to establish a "new Jerusalem", after pilgrimages to the Holy Land were made difficult by Muslim conquests. Image
5. Kailasa Temple

Also hewn from top to bottom from a single rock: a massive, 8th century complex of caves and intricate carvings called the Ellora Caves.

200,000 tons of bedrock were excavated for it β€” nobody really knows who did it (or how)... Image
6. Meenakshi Temple

Staying in India, this complex of elaborate, Dravidian structures was built in the 16th century. There are over 33,000 hand-carved sculptures across the site and its towers ("gopurams"). Image
7. Sanctuary of Las Lajas

A neo-Gothic church in Colombia hanging 150 feet above a canyon. Built at a site where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared before someone caught here in a storm. Image
8. Temple of Hathor

Egypt's best-preserved (and most underrated) temple, with rich detail executed on immense scale.

The ceiling of the hypostyle hall is over 2,000 years old (built by Cleopatra's father, Ptolemy XII) β€” and yet those colors are original.
Image
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9. Temple of Bacchus

One of the largest Roman temples ever constructed is in modern-day Lebanon. It's also one of the very best preserved wonders of the empire.

Notice the person for a sense of scale... Image
Right next to it are the largest known ancient columns in existence, belonging to the Temple of Jupiter.

They're 65 feet high with a girth of over 7 feet β€” almost twice as large as the Parthenon's columns. Image
10. Fanjingshan Temples

Impossibly-perched Buddhist temples in the Chinese Wuling Mountains, only reachable via an 8,000-step climb.

Built by intrepid monks possibly as early as the 7th century Tang Dynasty. Image
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11. The Casa Professa

A Baroque church in Palermo with unfathomably-detailed marble inlays, from floor to ceiling.

A symphony carved from stone...

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More from @Culture_Crit

Jul 19
Why did past societies build so much "useless" beauty everywhere β€” and why did we stop?

It might be a measure of a culture's health... (thread) 🧡 Image
Street lights are seen by everyone. But what about things hardly seen at all, like fittings on the sides of doors?

This was the kind of thing Victorian society cared about β€” but why?
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The mantra of the 20th century was to say that ornamentation has no purpose, so get rid of it.

But ornaments assign ordinary things meaning. They speak to the tradition or craft that produced it...Image
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Jul 16
When Julius Caesar was assassinated, it wasn't by a lone attacker β€” it was a group of his rivals in the Senate.

Why? Because they feared his growing popularity with the common people.

Here's how it unfolded on March 15, 44 BC... (thread) 🧡 Image
In 44 BC, Caesar was on a dramatic rise in popularity and power.

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He was also a beloved populist: he distributed land to the poor, forgave debt burdens, and expanded the Senate for greater participation.

But to his political rivals, it seemed he was on a trajectory to kingship... Image
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Jul 15
Heaven is made up of 9 levels.

700 years ago, a poet described what it's like to climb them β€” and what kind of person lands at each level.

Here's what he finds at the very top... (thread) 🧡 Image
In 1321, Alighieri Dante imagined a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. It's one of the most imaginative stories ever told.

He travels right to the bottom of Hell and describes each of its 9 levels... Image
Why? Because to journey upward in life, you must first descend into the depths of your own soul.

At the very bottom, the bitterly cold point furthest from God's grace, is Satan β€” trapped in a frozen lake of his own tears... Image
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Jul 12
In 1963, a man noticed his chickens disappearing through a hole in his basement.

He knocked through the wall, revealing what is hard to believe: a 20,000-person city, deep below ground.

It was built by Christians over 1,000 years ago... (thread) 🧡 Image
He had stumbled across what was then the largest underground city ever found, near the town of Derinkuyu, in Turkey's Cappadocia region.

But what on earth was it for? Image
Christianity in Cappadocia is as ancient as it gets. Paul the Apostle himself established one of the first Christian communities here in the 1st century.

By the 4th century, Cappadocia's bishops played a major role in the Byzantine Empire.
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Jul 10
Exactly 4 years ago, the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque.

But 1,500 years ago, it was built to be the greatest church the world had ever seen.

Today it looks quite different β€” here's how it looked at its peak... (thread) 🧡 Image
Many buildings claim to be the 8th Wonder of the World β€” the Hagia Sophia is probably most credible of all.

In just 5 years, ancient society built what would remain the world's largest church for 1,000 years. Image
When Constantine relocated the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in 330 AD, he brought Roman architecture with him.

In the 6th century, Justinian drew on those elements to design the greatest church ever seen...
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Jul 9
The world's (second) oldest Christian country is not in the Middle East or Europe β€” it's Ethiopia.

There are centuries-old churches there that most people don't know about.

These were not "built", but carved directly into the rock… (thread) 🧡Image
Some of Christianity's most impressive churches don't tower toward heaven, but lie beneath ground or in humble caves.

Like the famous caves of Cappadocia in Turkey, or the monolithic wonder at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, France...
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But in Ethiopia, there are rock-hewn structures that stand above all of these achievements.

How on earth did they make them β€” and why? Image
Read 20 tweets

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