Temple of Solomon (Templo de Salomão), São Paulo

The golden Menorah at the temple’s biblical garden

photography by: Omri Westmark

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In recent decades, Brazil’s Evangelical churches have witnessed an exponential growth. With the ever-increasing number of ardent followers, massive churches have been popping out all across the country. Interestingly, one church in Brazil’s most populous city, São Paulo, outshined all of its counterparts when it recently erected a gargantuan spiritual center, purportedly modeled after the biblical Temple of Solomon with which it shares its name.

Despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, Brazil has experienced a sharp upsurge in the number of Evangelical Christians in the last fifty years or so. That in turn has prompted the construction of numerous Evangelical churches and centers throughout the country. While many of the newly built cathedrals are nothing short of extravagant monuments, a single building in São Paulo stands out as a modern-day version of the First Temple in Jerusalem.


As its name implies, the Temple of Solomon (Templo de Salomão) in the city’s Brás neighborhood was modeled after the biblical holy temple which was ravaged by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. Completed in 2014, this outlandish megachurch is the main center of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, aka IURD (Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios), numbering anywhere between 1 to 7 million followers in Brazil alone.


To accommodate the massive throngs of worshipers, the article’s protagonist had to far-exceed the proportions of its ancient counterpart. At a height of 180 feet or 55 meters (equivalent to an 18-story tower), the building dwarfs the original Temple of Solomon by a ratio of nearly 1:4.5.


Most of the temple is allocated to the sanctuary, where a whopping 10,000 worshipers can gather at once. In the very center of the altar lies what would many describe as the centerpiece of the whole complex, a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. Created with the utmost attention to details, the wooden chest was sculpted according to the Book of Exodus, with a layer of gold covering its outer surface. The holy facsimile is situated beneath 100 square meters of stained glass, featuring a conspicuous inscription of “Holiness to the Lord”. If that wasn’t enough, the church’s tall ceiling is installed with thousands of LED bulbs, mimicking a sky full of stars.


In attempt to impart the building with a dash of authenticity, eight million dollars worth of Jerusalem Stone were imported directly from Israel and were used as a cladding of the giant columns along the main and eastern façades.


Stretching alongside the gargantuan temple are a large entrance plaza and a triangular garden, the latter of which was apparently inspired by Jerusalem’s Garden of Gethsemane. Home to tens of olive trees, the garden is centered around “the Cenacle”, a round domed structure that houses a miniature model of the Tabernacle. Another monument that resonates with the garden’s source of inspiration is a gilded sculpture of a Jewish Menorah, which also serves a popular selfie spot for worshipers and visitors alike.


If you wish to get inside the temple, take note that you’ll have to say goodbye of your mobile phone and leave it at the reception (located in the basement floor) for the time of your visit. The temple also offers guided tours to the nearby biblical garden that can be booked online via the official website.