10 Holy Religious Sites Around the World Belonging to Disparate Religions




10 Holy Religious Sites Around the World Belonging to Disparate Religions
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“In Cambodia, Angkor is a vast complex of over 70 temples, once part of a megacity which was founded in the 9th century by a powerful Hindu king named Yasovarman I (pronounced “yas-oh- var-mon”). It is believed that Angkor once covered an area larger than San Francisco, United States of America which is 600 square kilometers in size. At the heart of this city is its largest temple, Angkor Wat. Built to honor the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor’s 5 towers represent the mountain peaks which were believed to be the home of the gods.

In the 12th century, Buddhism became Cambodia’s dominant religion and Angkor became a center of Buddhist practice and worship. During the modern day, Buddhist devotees are far outnumbered by tourists from abroad, bringing in over 2,000,000 (2 million) visitors and $100,000,000 ($100 million) into the Cambodian economy each year. To provide comparison, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy attracts over 5,000,000 (5 million) visitors annually despite being under constant threat of being flooded and over 12,000,000 (12 million) people per year visit Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France however this icon of French culture and history was devastated by fire in 2018. Angkor Wat has become so important to the identity of Cambodia that it is displayed upon the Cambodian flag.

The temples are at risk as 500 years ago, the city was slowly abandoned and was eventually completely engulfed by the Cambodian jungle. Gardeners wage a constant battle against this encroachment by maintaining the Angkor site to ensure vegetation growth does not inhibit tourists from visiting the site. Tree roots are especially damaging to the stone structures of Angkor and although trees are slow to grow, they have the ability to push the rock apart, exploiting its cracks until finally it cleaves and calves.

The most difficult parts to reach are the tall towers which must be scaled when sapling trees are noticed growing atop these structures unimpeded by predators or competition with other foliage. Gardner’s climb barefoot with ropes and hard hats, checking each stone as they progress because of the brittle nature of volcanic sandstone. Gardner’s have fallen and become badly injured as recently as 2018.”

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