SANTIAGO – Situated in the high hills of Peñalolen, this magnificent and modern temple is a meeting place where all beliefs are welcome. With a perfect environment to meditate, an attitude of respect is a must. Since its construction in 2016, this place has been one of the most visited attractions in Chile’s capital city.
Chile is privileged to have the only Bahá’í temple in South America. The temple welcomes people into a harmonious building, where the balance between the architecture of its main structure and the vast, peaceful green gardens, makes it a great place to connect with your inner spiritual self. The rest of them are located in India, Australia, Germany, Panama, United States, Samoa and Uganda. In all, there are nine of them. A very significant number as will be explained. .
The Bahá’í faith (also known as the universal religion) is one of the youngest independent set of beliefs in the world. It was founded in the region of Persia, specifically in Iran, in the XIX century. It’s a monotheistic religion, where the devout followers adhere to the spiritual teachings of their prophet Baha´u´llah. (Glory of god in English). This holy man taught that there is only one God and only one religion. He created the idea that we as humans have the need to evolve not only physically, socially or materially, but spiritually as well.
Bahaism encourages people to end with the idea of boundaries among religions. We all worship and praise the same God, and we all come from the same creator. In other words, Baha´u´llah believed what he defined as “Universal truths”. All religions throughout world history have preached common values and beliefs, but there is one concept that has been echoed through time: Love.
Above all, the central message professed by this religion is to end prejudice and embrace love and respect for each other. Humankind, in Baha´u´llah´s words, not only has the need to unify, but it is inevitable if we want progress. “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
— Baha'i World News Service (@BahaiNews) October 30, 2020
The construction of this 30-million-dollar temple started in November 2010 and was finished 6 years later. The chief architect was the Canadian, Siamak Hariri. His unique and creative design was inspired by a piece of text written by Baha´u´llah, in which the deity describes what happens when the divine light reaches the heart. As a metaphor, the prophet says that when a house is occupied by its legitimate owner, “all the pillars of the dwelling are ashine with His light”. This enlightenment is a symbol of unity.
This magnificent 30-meter high building is made of cast glass in its exterior, and in the interior it is mostly made of marble brought from Portugal. As for the temple itself, it resembles a flower with 9 petals.
As suggested, the number 9 plays an overriding role. This 1-digit number is the highest among them all. It represents perfection as it englobes all the rest. That’s why the main structure is composed of 9 sides, each one with an entrance.
Inside, you will not find any kind of image, neither icons nor an altar. It only has several benches where people can sit or kneel down. It has seating capacity for six hundred people.
Union is the only way
Chile, as well as the other 8nations, was chosen to host this spectacular house of worship. The temple is a symbol of unity that we can’t waste and shouldn’t ignore. Bahaism has given us the chance to embrace love and union, whatever our beliefs are.
Humanity through all its history has suffered wars and endless social struggles that have taken us into misery. They have brought out our worst. Now, we have entered a new era. Technology, consumerism and immediacy are dominating us. They have usurped our most precious values. We need to recover what we have lost and learn from our mistakes.
The Bahá’í Temple is a perfect place to do so. It is waiting for us, so we can show our best face. Religion is not a boundary among us, but the way to be united as a species.
Edited by Claudio Moraga
Watch this video with the architect: