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Sir Christopher Wren’s churches - and St Paul’s Cathedral - define London for many visitors. But there are many other religious buildings around and, like everything else in London, there’s always a few big surprises. See also City Churches.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Religious

The Temple Church

Dating back to 1170-1185, this church was built in the round in tribute to Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There are effigies of nine crusading knights in full armour that span the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries.

Inner Temple Lane EC4
Tel: +44 (0)20 7797 8250
Tube: Temple/Faringdon
www.templechurch.com/

Westminster Cathedral

The extraordinary Byzantine-style building is London’s Catholic cathedral, built in this style to highlight the link to Rome. The piazza in front offers good views of the brickwork, while a tiny lift takes you up for uninspiring views out over London.

42 Francis Street London SW1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7798 9055
Tube: Victoria
www.westminstercathedral.org.uk

Hindu Temple

The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir would be an impressive sight anyway, never mind peeping out over the red-brick terraces of Neasden. Europe’s biggest Hindu Temple is an architectural wonder, using 5,000 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble to build.

105/115 Brentfield Road NW8
Tube: Neasden
www.mandir.org

Buddhapadipa Temple

The first Thai Buddhist temple in London opened in Wimbledon in 1980 and was built in traditional Thai style. Sitting in parkland with a lake and gardens, it is one of only two such temples outside Asia. Dedicated to teaching Buddhism, it offers classes and group tours.

14 Calonne Road SW19
Tube/rail/tram: Wimbledon
www.buddhapadipa.org

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Built in 1714 by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren, the design owes much to Palladian influence. Once threatened with demolition, this most beautiful of Hawksmoor’s six surviving churches took 30 years and £10m to restore.

Fournier Street E1
Tube: Aldgate East
www.christchurchspitalfields.org

Chiswick Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA)

This church opened its doors  in 1998, the blue onion-style dome an immediate distraction to drivers on the A4. ROCA split from the mother church after the 1917 Revolution but reunification talks are well advanced.

57 Harvard Road W4
Tel: +44 (0)20 8995 9503
Tube: Gunnersbury
www.synod.com

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