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Houses of the holy: why the best temples aren’t always the grandest | Hannah Jane Parkinson

I have marvelled at grand domes and minarets, but found most peace in a tiny chapel

I am not a religious person. I do not like the hypocrisy; the weird uniforms, the commercial element; the fact that I might be put to a grisly death for loving a certain person, and then burn for eternity, etc. (Though I have no qualms with those who are religious. I realise that this is a somewhat inconsistent position. What I’m saying is: I tend to take people as I find them.)

There are two areas in which I am envious of the religious. The first is the strength of will it must take to believe. The second? The architecture. I am most put out that beautiful, stained-glass windows, double-height ceilings, gold and turquoise minarets, majestic domes, and all the rest, are often lacking from the secular world. It’s as though religion snaffled all the good buildings. I remember first thinking this when roaming around Siena Cathedral as a teenager, awed by the black and white humbug interior and huge, arched ceilings.

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