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Kankali Devi Temple near Tigawa , North India, (around 420)
South Indian temple: Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram , (around 1030)
North Indian temple: Kandariya Mahadeva Temple , Khajuraho (around 1050)

Temple (from Latin templum ) is the German name for buildings that have served as sanctuaries in many religions since the Neolithic . The oldest buildings to which the name is directly applied are the temples of Göbekli Tepe (from approx. 9600 BC) and the Maltese temples (from 3800 BC).

Based on the basic meaning of the word, Latin templum (in the Etruscan and Roman religion ) is initially nothing more than an area separated from the profane , in which augurs observed and interpreted the flight of birds and other signs. In the ancient Greek religion, the temple was the repository for the idol , while the worship and ritual sacrifice took place in the open air, at the altar , which was also located within the sacred area called Temenos .

The temple is integrated into the religious system in many ways. The visual aspect is not in the foreground at first. The temple is the place where ritual acts are performed for or by the believers (rather by those acting on their behalf). In some cultures the temple represents the cosmos par excellence. Temples are often seen as the abode of the gods. If one imagines the mountain as the seat of the gods ( Olymp ), the temple may also be designed as a mountain ( pyramid , ziggurat ). Finally there is the idea of ​​a domestic life of the gods that corresponds to that of humans, e.g. B. Daily routines with wake-up calls, toilets, meals. The sacred area is always separated from the profane space; the temple can be reserved for specific gods or divided into different areas.

In many urban cultures, the temple is the central building and shapes the settlement. In addition to the religious significance of the temple, especially in high cultures , the economic significance should not be underestimated. The educational institutions are also often tied to the temple.

Egyptian temples

The oldest stone temple buildings include the only partially preserved Egyptian mortuary temples , which in the early days were tied to the tombs of the pharaohs ( mastabas and pyramids ) in many places ; later, many temples triggered binding to the Pharaonic cult and made independent, located several in a row and by huge pylons subdivided building complexes - as the huge, built over a long period and the god Amun-Re consecrated Karnak temple in Luxor . In the Valley of the Kings there are only tombs, but no more religious buildings; Significant exceptions, however, are the mortuary temples from the necropolis of Deir el-Bahari opposite the Valley of the Kings , above all the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut († around 1450 BC).

The Israelite sanctuaries

Herodian temple , pictorial reconstruction

The Hebrews had only one official sanctuary at a time, although there were other minor sanctuaries. The oldest Israelite sanctuary was the Mishkan or the tabernacle , also called the "tent of meeting" (Hebrew אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד , ohel mo'ed ), which is reported in the Hebrew Bible . The first stone building was built around 950 BC. The Temple of Solomon was built. After its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 BC. Was by Zerubbabel until 515 BC. The second temple was built. After its remodeling and expansion by Herod the Great , it was also called the Herodian temple . The temples of Judaism differed from the temples of classical antiquity, large forecourts with burnt altars and a complex temple building with multi-storey suites were their hallmarks. The Herodian Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian . Today the Muslim Dome of the Rock with its golden dome and the Al-Aqsa Mosque rise on the Temple Mount .

A more than 12 m² wooden model of the Temple of Solomon, which was built in Dresden from 1680 to 1692, dates from the Baroque period . From 1734 it was exhibited together with other Judaica in the wall pavilion of the Dresden Zwinger and could be seen there until the 1830s. It reached Hamburg via various detours around the end of the 19th century and is now in the Museum of Hamburg History. Michael Korey and Thomas Ketelsen published a volume for this model in 2010 at Deutscher Kunstverlag entitled Fragments of Memory. The Temple of Solomon in the Dresden Zwinger .

Reform synagogues have often been called temples since the 19th century . The first temple of this kind was the Israelitische Tempel in Hamburg . The orientation towards the temple in Jerusalem has been changed to the temple on site.

Temple of the Greeks

The Greek temple ( ancient Greek ὅ ναός - dwelling, not to be equated with the Latin templum - temple in terms of content ) is originally the building of a Greek sanctuary that houses the cult image. In general, it was not used for cult, as worship and sacrifices took place outdoors, but it could accommodate votive gifts or cult implements. So the temple was not an essential part of a Greek sanctuary. It is the most significant and most widespread type of building in Greek architecture .

Within a few centuries, the Greeks developed the temple from the small adobe buildings of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. To monumental buildings with double porticoed halls from the 6th century BC. BC, which easily reached over 20 m in height without a roof. For the design, they resorted to the landscaped structural elements of the Doric and Ionic order , to which from the late 3rd century BC onwards. The Corinthian order entered. A large number of different floor plan options were developed and combined with the various orders of the rising architecture. From the 3rd century BC The construction of large temples slowed down after a brief last bloom in the 2nd century BC. To come to a complete standstill. The Greek temple was designed and built according to fixed rules, the most important parameters of which could be the lower diameter of the columns or the dimensions of the foundation. Optical refinements removed the rigidity of the almost mathematical design principles that resulted. Contrary to popular belief today, the Greek temples were painted, with rich reds and blues appearing alongside the dominant white. The figurative ornamentation in the form of reliefs and gable figures was extremely rich in elaborately designed temples. As a rule, the buildings were commissioned and financed by cities and sanctuary administrations, but individuals, mostly Hellenistic rulers, could also act as builders and donors.

Temple of the Romans

Santa Maria sopra Minerva , an ancient temple in
Assisi converted into a church

The term temple is a direct borrowing from Latin . Templum takes on the Greek verb τέμνω (= to cut) or to the Indo-European * temp- (tension, stretch). Templum originally referred to the area that the Augur "cut" or "spanned" from the natural topography in order to make his observations in this area. Only that was interpreted as auspices and raised to a divine sign, what happened in this area, in the Templum . This activity of the augur was called “contemplatio”, from which the term contemplation , the internalized observation, is derived. The development of the building probably took place in such a way that such a fanum, i.e. a sanctuary , was later materially separated from the “profane”, i.e. the world outside the sanctuary. After all, the signs were considered to be manifestations of a god, and this god then claimed the area for himself.

Etruscan and Greek influences mix in the Roman sacred building. The Etruscan temples rise on a high plinth as a substructure and thus stand out clearly from their surroundings. They are directional and have a rectangular floor plan. A flight of stairs on the narrow side leads to the vestibule, an open portico that is in front of the often three-part cella , the interior. The whole thing is covered by a flat gable roof with clay tiles.

The Roman temples take over the Etruscan models, but Greek influences are over the course of time - especially after the Roman conquest of Greece in the 2nd century BC. Chr. - ever stronger: the floor plan is stretched in the longitudinal direction, the cella is larger in relation to the vestibule, its tripartite division is abandoned in favor of a larger room. A well-preserved example from the Augustan period is the Maison Carrée in Nîmes .

Temple in Christianity

The Jerusalem temple still played a role in Jewish Christianity in the early days. Since Jesus was critical of the temple and the baptized person was understood as the temple of God, the temple cult in Christianity ended with the destruction of the Herodian temple .

From Constantine I (Rome) onwards, a new form arose in church buildings. The design of the basilica is basically a neutral one, since the court and market buildings looked similar, but had recently also served the cult of the deified emperors and thus made the replacement of the imperial cult by the new religion visible.

In the Orthodox Church , too , the houses of God are called temples (Greek naos ), while the word church (Greek ekklesia ) is only used for the community itself.

Among the newer Christian-based communities, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormons") is known for its worldwide temples . Another community that references the same founding figure, Joseph Smith , the community of Christ , has two temples. The community in Christ Jesus calls its central sanctuary, the Eliasburg , temple.

Temple in Hinduism

In Hinduism the temple ( mandir ) represents the cosmos par excellence. In the temple the world of the gods and the world of men "touch". In contrast to the house rites, however, visiting the temple is not compulsory for devout Hindus.

Temple in Buddhism

Buddhist temple and monastery location Samye in Tibet

The religions that have temples as sanctuaries include Buddhism , which also includes Zen , Tantra (ism) and Lamaism . In Buddhism, the term temple is closely related to monastery and cannot always be clearly separated.

Important elements of a Buddhist temple are the pagoda and the Dhamma hall for ceremonies and lectures, also called bot in Thailand and zendo in Japan .

A ritual that is often held in temples is the puja , a devotion in honor of the Buddha . Small sacrifices such as smoke, flowers, food offerings etc. are also made, but great sacrifices were rejected by the Buddha as pointless.

The temples can be very different depending on the school and culture . So are z. B. India and Sri Lanka known for their cave temples . With the spread in Germany, Buddhist temples emerged there that are adapted to climatic and cultural needs, such as B. The Buddhist House .

Temple in Shinto

To better distinguish them from the Buddhist temples in Japan, the term " shrine " or " Shinto shrine " has become naturalized for the religious building sites of Shinto , although for a long time in Japan no essential distinction was made between the religions Buddhism and Shinto.

Temple of the Baha'i

Lotus Temple in Delhi
Masonic Temple in Detroit

The Baha'i build their houses of prayer worldwide , which are dedicated to the unity of religions and are open to all people. The focus of the prayer is the holy scriptures of all world religions, which are recited in the original language or translation without sermon, interpretation or commentary.

Sung prayers in all human languages ​​and spiritual traditions are welcome in the temples. The acoustics of the central domed structure carry the human voice. No other sounds should disturb individual reflection and meditation.

In the top of the dome, the traffic light , an Arabic calligraphy can be seen, an expression of praise : "O glory of the all-glorious!". Another feature connects the temples: Nine gates on all sides symbolize the openness for the followers of the various religions.

Otherwise, the houses of worship are characterized by their architectural diversity, which deliberately represent different styles and symbols of different cultures.

The most famous Bahai Temple is in Delhi , India and is known as the Lotus Temple .

Temple of Voodoo

The temples of Haitian voodoo are known as hounfours .

Temple of the Masons

The Freemasons call the meeting places of their lodges as a temple . The entire building - especially in the USA - or just the room for the ritual work in this building can be called this. Masonic temples are often characterized by their own “Masonic architectural style” .

Temples in Mesoamerica (Maya, Toltecs, Aztecs, etc.)

The Mesoamerican temples stand - with a few exceptions (e.g. Malinalco ) - on a stepped and more or less high substructure, which could also have been built over the grave of a priest-king or other person (see temple pyramid ). The actual temple originally consisted of braided branches and foliage or straw; Stone temples are the result of later developments. Until the late period it consisted only of a small room, illuminated by the non-closable portal, in which an (often blood-smeared) image of a god was set up. The outside of the stone temple was usually plastered and painted in color. Numerous Maya temples also had an imposing stone roof structure (crestería) .


Web links

Commons : Temple  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Temple  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Schmidt: You built the first temple. The enigmatic sanctuary of the Stone Age hunters. The archaeological discovery at Göbekli Tepe. CH Beck, Munich 2006.
  2. ^ FAZ from September 15, 2010, page N3
  3. ^ Karl Ernst Georges: Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary . Volume 2. Hannover 1918 (reprint Darmstadt 1998), Sp. 3049.
  4. Michiel de Vaan: Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages . Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, Boston 2008, pp. 610f.