London is called home by hundreds of thousands of people who have come from other cultures and countries. This brings new life into the city, new food, new customs and of course, inspiring and intriguing new religious architecture. Any tourist will have Westminster Abbey on their list of things to do, and it is indeed a must-see. However, this historic city houses some of the most unique hidden gems of religious buildings in the world. Why not branch out a little, and have a look at some of the lesser-known but equally spectacular sights on offer?
The jaw-dropping Shri Swaninarayan Mandir is on Brentfield Road, NW8. This awesome Hindu temple is the largest of it’s kind in Europe, and is made up of 5,000 tons of Italian Carrara Marble. With free admission and a guided tour on offer lasting two hours, this is a worthwhile visit for locals and tourists alike. The interior is even more stunning than the exterior, with gold statues and incredible carving works on display.
For a wholly relaxed and altogether different experience, take a look at the Buddhapadipa Temple on Calonne Road in Wimbledon, SE19. This was the first Thai Buddhist temple to have been built in London, in 1980. Set in beautiful parklands and gardens featuring a lake and an exotic rage of flowers, you can spend hours just gazing at this architectural wonder. It is one of just two temples of its kind outside of Asia, and group meditation classes and tours are also on offer.
For a more historical experience, why not take an hour or two to soak up the splendor of The Temple Church, on Inner Temple Lane, EC4. The church was built in 1185, in the round as a tribute to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jersusalem. Such rare sights are on offer in the ancient and tranquil place – effigies of 12th century knights in full armour, incredible stained glasswork and an intense history of religious change, turmoil and re-invention.