Sacred Sites Aligned to the Sun

Article by Justin Norris

Thousands of sacred sites aligned to the sun and stars exist all over the world. They are the work of a pre-historic civilization, which once spread widely across the globe. This civilization practiced a religion that reverenced the sun and stars, which is why it built so many sacred places aligning to important solar and astronomical events.

Many of these sites are massive and sophisticated in design, requiring advanced knowledge of engineering, mathematics, and astronomy to construct. A few are well-known, but many remain in obscurity, familiar only to local inhabitants or swallowed up by earth or jungle.

By studying these ancient sites and even visiting them in person, it’s possible to uncover the knowledge and spiritual wisdom they contain. Because this knowledge is timeless, it’s also possible to continue to use these sites just as the ancients did—as sacred places for celebrating important times of the year, such as the solstices and equinoxes.

Types of Sacred Sites

Ancient sites come in many different shapes, sizes and styles.
Stonehenge Megaliths

Some of the enormous megaliths used in the construction of Stonehenge.1

Many of the ancient sites that have survived to the present are made of stone, because of its inherent durability. Some have survived for at least 12,000 years, and possibly far longer, outlasting earthquakes and the ravages of time. Among these sites, many are constructed using megaliths — large stones weighing dozens or even several hundred tons. These megaliths can be placed individually or in arrangements with others, where they are joined without mortar. How these stones were quarried, lifted, transported, and erected is a mystery many scientists and construction engineers today still struggle to understand.

Other cultures used different approaches to construct sacred spaces, such as piled stones, carved or sculpted edifices, or earthen mounds. Some involve exquisite artwork and the incorporation of sacred symbols reflective of the site’s purpose.

The gallery below describes some of the most common types of sacred monuments found around the world. (Click the thumbnails to read the description and see larger example images for each of the types.)

How these Sites Align to the Sun and Stars

Equinox At Angkor 21st March 2012

The rising sun crowns a spire on the spring equinox at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.2

One of the most significant features of these ancient sites is their alignment with solar and stellar phenomena.

Important alignments often occur at the solstices and equinoxes. Many sites are constructed so that the sun will rise, set, or reach its zenith (maximum height) in alignment with a certain part of the monument at these special times of the year.

For example, at Stonehenge the rising sun at the summer solstice shines directly into the center of the altar, between two heel stones, and the sun at its zenith shines directly overhead the monument. At Giza in Egypt, during the spring Equinox, the sun sets directly between the two largest pyramids and appears to crown the sphinx. Similarly at the spring equinox, the sun climbs and crowns the tallest tower at the temple of Angkor Wat.

Orion Stars and Great Pyramids

The stars of Orion’s Belt superimposed over the Great Pyramids showing their correlation.3

Other sites are designed so the sun will enter the monument and illuminate it. At the winter solstice, the rising sun enters a cross-shaped chamber within the monument at Newgrange, illuminating it with light. At the summer solstice sunrise, a similar effect occurs at the Ajanta Caves in India, where the sun penetrates a particular cave and shines directly on a statue of the ascending Buddha.

Many sites are also aligned to important stars, frequently the constellation Orion or the star Sirius. In some cases a group of structures can act as a virtual map of the heavens, with the entire site arranged to reflect on the earth a particular constellation or set of cosmic features. Both the Giza complex and the enormous complex at Angkor in Cambodia were designed in this way.

Ancient sites aligned around the world.

This image graphs numerous ancient sites around the world, revealing how they form a nearly perfect circle.4

Incredibly, many of these sites also seem designed to align with each other across huge distances spanning continents. A line can be drawn connecting  Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines in Peru, Easter Island, Angkor wat in Cambodia, Persepolis in modern-day Iran, Mohenjo Daro in India, Petra in modern-day Jordan, and the Great Pyramids in Egypt, forming a circle on the globe within a margin of error of less than one tenth of one degree of latitude.5 This suggests an overarching design vision and a coordinated building effort that is truly global in scope.

What were these ancient sites for?

There is much yet to uncover about the function of these ancient sites. What we do know suggests that they served multiple connected purposes.

Venues for Sun Celebrations

chichen-itza-equinox-viewing-the-spiritual-sun

A modern-day celebration of the equinox with a large group gathered at the Temple of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza. Photo licensed from BigStock.

Many sites would have been used in religious ceremonies and celebrations of the sun. In some cases, sites appear to have been used and developed continuously for thousands of years.

For example, Stonehenge is one prominent site oriented to the summer solstice that appears designed for sun celebrations on a large scale. Researchers have found evidence indicating that up to 4,000 people may have gathered there at a time.6 Sites like Stonehenge may have been important destinations of pilgrimage for peoples living in the area, and may have hosted multi-day celebrations around these special times of the year.

Celebrating the spring equinox

Modern practitioners in Greece celebrate the spring equinox, connecting to an ancient heritage. Photo © Labrys.gr (used with permission).

These sun celebrations are an indicator of an ancient religion of the sun uniting the peoples that built these sites. The remnants of this religion also later influenced many of the descendant cultures that inherited and continued to use them.

The ancient practitioners of the religion of the sun revered the sun as both the source of physical and spiritual life and saw in its yearly cycles a representation of a process of spiritual transformation that each person can experience.

In this way the celebration of solstices and equinoxes holds deep significance, both as a way to connect with cosmic forces and as time for reflection on one’s personal spiritual journey. This remains true for modern practitioners of the religion of the sun just as it was for those in ancient times.

More about the Religion of the Sun

Repositories of Knowledge

Great Pyramid Pi

A diagram showing how the great pyramid contains the dimensions of Pi in the relationship between its height and perimeter. The perimeter = 1760 Royal Cubits, which is equivalent to the 2 x the height pf 280 Royal Cubits x Pi. Image © Don E. Mitchell (used with permission).

Researchers believe that sacred sites also acted as repositories of knowledge and places of learning for ancient people. This knowledge was frequently encoded into the monuments themselves, using dimensions, angles, alignments, and other properties to contain wisdom about mathematics, geography, astronomy, physics, and other sciences.

In remote antiquity, there was a very mobilized group of cousin nations who travelled across the entire globe and wherever they settled long term they built code-bearing complexes to preserve and teach their sciences. To ensure that profound scientific knowledge would not be lost, they erected precisely positioned pyramid and hump mounds, concentric ring mounds, geometric earth embankments, henges […] etc. In each case the selfsame measurement standard, as well as length and angle codes on one site will duplicate that found on another, even a continent or two removed.

—Martin Doutré7

Ancient sites encoding this type of knowledge can be found around the world. For example, the Temple of Karnak in Egypt was developed over time in accordance with the Fibonacci sequence. Measurements of the Great Pyramid at Giza show a knowledge of Pi, the Golden Ratio, and the precession of the equinoxes.8 Precessional knowledge is similarly encoded into the design of the temple at Angkor Wat.

On the other side of the world, researchers at the site of Teotihuacan in Mexico have found advanced knowledge of the earth and cosmos encoded in its dimensions. For example, the dimensions of one section represent the circumference of the earth, at a scale of 1:100,000.9

These and many other examples suggest that ancient sites may have served as places of advanced learning, where students could receive both spiritual and scientific knowledge.

A Message to the Ages

Coriancha Sun Temple Peru

The remains of Coriancha, an ancient temple in Peru. The Spanish conquistadores demolished the temple and built a Christian church on top of its foundation (you can see the different stonework building on top of the original masonry). An earthquake later severely damaged the church, but the tightly interlocking building technique of the older structure left it unharmed.1011

Another function of these sites appears to have been to preserve this knowledge for posterity. Many sacred sites were designed to last through the ages, possibly as a way of sending a message to future generations of humanity. In this way, the knowledge of the religion of the sun as well as the presence of an advanced society in ancient pre-history could be discovered and known by cultures in the distant future.

A massive monument in stone or earth is one of the few mediums of communication that has a chance to withstand thousands of years of weathering and decay, preserving its message through the millennia. Some of the building techniques of these ancient monuments also possess a special ability to withstand the forces of nature over long periods of time, such as the use of very large but irregularly sized and shaped megaliths. This technique creates structures that are highly earthquake resistant and long lasting.

In addition to their ability to endure, the mode of communication used in sacred sites is also very well suited for conveying a message across cultural boundaries, because these sites leverage the universal languages of mathematics and astronomy. Although the spoken languages of the builders of Giza or Stonehenge have likely long vanished from the earth, those builders lived in a world governed by the same mathematical laws as ours, and they looked up at the same cosmos at night. Messages encoded in mathematics and astronomy can not only withstand the passage of time but also be interpreted by any future civilization that develops those sciences.

Finally, in at least one case, there is evidence of a site being deliberately buried—perhaps in order to preserve it for future discovery.

Göbekli Tepe is a large sacred complex in Turkey built of 20-ton megaliths, many of them intricately carved. It has been conclusively dated to approximately 12,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest known sites on the planet.

Göbekli Tepe

The excavations at Göbekli Tepe.12

Around 10,000 years ago, the entire site was purposefully concealed by backfilling it with dirt and debris.13 This action not only preserved the site for posterity but also has allowed it to be dated with relative precision, because the remains of later cultures were not able to become mixed with the site and obscure its antiquity.

Who built these sites?

A sea-faring civilization in remote antiquity practicing the religion of the sun spread its presence around the world, building sun-aligned monuments wherever it went.

By leaving behind a legacy of enormous monuments encoding sophisticated knowledge, this lost civilization of the sun has been able to make its presence known to us and to pass down its spiritual and scientific wisdom.

Its monumental sites—along with the similarities between languages across multiple continents, the common myths and symbols shared across cultures, and other archaeological remains spread across the planet—demonstrate that this civilization travelled far across the earth. They were peoples who understood the spiritual significance of the heavens and devoted themselves to the observation and celebration of the sun and stars.

More about the Lost Civilization

Why study ancient sacred sites today?

Sacred sites may be ancient, but the knowledge they encode and celebrate is timeless. Because spiritual truths are ingrained in the cosmos—from the structure of a tiny atom to the shape of a spiral galaxy—the knowledge of this spirituality is ever-present, waiting to be rediscovered again and again in different epochs.

Milky Way Galaxy

The same spiral found in the shape of a galaxy…14

NautilusCutawayLogarithmicSpiral WithGoldenSpiral

…can also be found in a simple shell.15

Modern-day practitioners of this spirituality aim to manifest it into their daily lives through spiritual practices related to the religion of the sun and in celebrating the solstices and equinoxes, as this celebration recognizes how the journey of the sun through the year also connects with the personal spiritual journey of the individual.

Ancient peoples understood that a knowledge of the heavens and cosmos (the macrocosm) is directly related to the knowledge of ourselves (the microcosm). Those practicing the spirituality of the sun held that each person’s consciousness is part of a divine being, which we can uncover and connect with through an inner journey that is represented on a cosmic scale in the yearly cycles of the sun.

This connection between the spiritual forces of the cosmos and an individual’s inner spiritual journey is no different today, and ancient sites are still powerful places for sun celebrations, as they were in ancient times. Attending an excursion to a sacred site or visiting these places yourself can be a way to connect personally with the ancient wisdom and spirituality that is at their source.

Excursions to Ancient Sites

How to Experience the Alignments of Ancient Sites during a Solar Event

There are many opportunities today to experience what it would have been like for ancient peoples to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes at sacred sites.

Our list of sacred sites by location and alignment contains a list of sites and the solar events they align to, which can help in planning a personal visit to one of these places.

In some cases there may also be a Circle practicing the religion of the sun or a traditional revival group holding an event at an ancient site that is open to the public. The pages below have details of these events and how to join.

Celebrations at Ancient Sites Held by Circles Traditional Celebrations

Further Research on Ancient Sites

There are many archaeologists and other experts of various fields conducting research into sacred sites around the world. We have collected some of the resources that we feel are most valuable and relevant, including books, videos, and websites.

Resources on Sacred Sites

Author Credits

This article was written by Justin Norris.


  1. Public domain image found here

  2. By សុខគឹមហេង (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

  3. English Wikipedia user Davkal [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

  4. Author unknown. This image is cited widely by numerous websites and is presented here under fair use for educational purposes. 

  5. Alison, Jim. “Exploring Geographic and Geometric Relationships Along a Line of Ancient Sites Around the World.” The Official Graham Hancock website. Accessed May 5, 2017. https://grahamhancock.com/geographic-geometric-relationships-alisonj./  

  6. “Stonehenge.” Wikipedia. May 15, 2017. Accessed May 26, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonehenge#Stonehenge_1_.28ca._3100_BC.29. 

  7. Doutré, Martin. “The Chinese Pyramids Xi’An, Shaanxl.” Ancient Celtic New Zealand. Accessed May 31, 2017. http://www.celticnz.co.nz/ChinesePyramids/Chinese%20Pyramids%201.htm. 

  8. Ford, Richard E. “The Great Pyramid: Measures of Time And the Precession of the Equinoxes .” The Official Graham Hancock website. Accessed May 26, 2017. https://grahamhancock.com/fordr3/. 

  9. Harleston, Hugh, Jr. “Mayan Treasure-Section I.” Mayan Treasure: Mathematics of Ancient Architecture. 2002. Accessed May 26, 2017. http://www.hharlestonjr.com/docs/Mayan-2520Treasure-2520–2520Section-2520I.pdf. 

  10. “Coricancha.” Wikipedia. June 03, 2017. Accessed June 05, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coricancha. 

  11. By Yves Picq http://veton.picqs.fr (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

  12. By Creator:Rolfcosar (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

  13. “Göbekli Tepe.” Wikipedia. May 23, 2017. Accessed May 31, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe#Dating. 

  14. Public domain image located here

  15. By NautilusCutawayLogarithmicSpiral.jpg: Chris 73derivative work: Akkana Peck (NautilusCutawayLogarithmicSpiral.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL 1.3], via Wikimedia Commons 

8 Comments

  • Hi Justin,

    Thank you for this very interesting and well researched article. I really like the compact way that describes all the important facets of the Sacred Sites aligned to the Sun, their significance and the connections throughout the ages. It is very easy to share this article with others and give them a quick overview of the importance of these Sacred Sites and see if it triggers some interest with them to explore the sites further.

    I really enjoyed reading about the aspect that ancient sites may also have been used as teaching objects, like Martin Doutré says ‘code-bearing complexes to preserve and teach their sciences’. It is so beautiful to discover new things about these sites every day, like reading about the ancient sacred sites serving as places of advanced learning for spirituality and sciences. If you think about it for a moment, that would be quite logical as all these sites have so many functions and maybe some functions yet to be discovered!

    It was also fascinating to read about the use of alternating size blocks that can withstand earthquakes. I have seen that during my trip at Machu Picchu as well, but I would like to find out more about how that works exactly. It is interesting to pinpoint other sites in areas that are more prone to earthquakes and learn about them and see if alternating size blocks and megaliths have been used there as well. It would be yet again an example of shared knowledge over large distances and time eras.

    I am always amazed to read about the alignments of the sites to each other and to cosmic phenomena. It is quite a legacy that this ancient civilisation left behind and was teaching about the spiritual significance of the stars and constellation in relation to the earth and ourselves. I was wondering if you might know if this Ancient Global Civilisation of the Sun, that built all these sites, flourished in a very specific time era or that it span maybe hundreds or even thousands of years. I have read that cultures that came after, often just moved into areas with these sites and used them for different purposes, obviously obscured from the true meaning of these sites and having forgotten or ignorant of the teachings of this ancient Solar Civilisation.

    Thank you in any case for this nice read.

    • Thanks Bogdan for your comment. I also find the earthquake-resistant style of masonry fascinating, especially the amazing examples found in Peru. You’re very fortunate to have visited in person; I’d love to go one day. I believe you can see similar styles of interlocking megalithic masonry in many places, from Egypt to Easter Island. See the section of Megalithic architecture on this page: https://www.spiritualsun.com/lost-civilization-sun

      Based on the information we have today, it appears that the ancient civilization of the sun first emerged after the end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago. This is evidenced by numerous myths, sacred texts, and oral histories found around the world describing cataclysmic events such as enormous floods. Many of these stories also describe wisdom-bringing culture heroes who preserve the lost knowledge of a pre-flood society and initiate the spread of civilization in a new era.

      There are also archaeological sites that confirm this chronology. For example, Gobekli Teppe dates from around this time and demonstrates that an organized society capable of creating vast structures with sophisticated knowledge of engineering and astronomy existed in this era. Geologist Robert Schoch has also done research work on the Sphinx and concluded that it also dates to a far older epoch than is conventionally believed, perhaps as old as 10,000 years before present.

      Regarding how the civilization of the sun spread and evolved over time – my understanding on this point is still developing. The period of time in question is so vast and the amount of information available is very limited.

      It’s possible that the civilization spread and left a cultural foundation in various parts of the world relatively quickly, the remnants of which were inherited and used by other cultures over the following millennia. Alternately it’s possible there were successive waves of migration or missionaries spreading the knowledge of the Religion of the Sun to different places at different times, perhaps over thousands of years. We do know that eventually this knowledge was lost, corrupted, overrun, or absorbed into other cultures in many places, but the horizon for this happening may have been different in different parts of the world as well.

      It’s a pretty immense tapestry to look at, and the exact progression of the civilization of the sun over time is still an open question to my mind, one I’m personally very much interested in.

  • I was recently able to visit a few ancient sites. It’s interesting to try to investigate them in person, to feel what can be picked up and to wonder how they were used exactly. Though I feel the addition of research from archaeological and historical sources, and the knowledge shared by others, can be needed to help form the fuller picture.

    One lesser known site I went to consisted of a single big monolith, about 6 meters in height and apparently the tallest in the country, though the site is not very well known or touristy so I had the area to myself. For some reason I was able to be at peace very easily, like being suspended in some sort of timeless zone when being around there. It was intriguing to later learn that this giant stone was more than it seemed as it was the central monolith of its own 40+ meter stone circle(s). Very much like the more famous Callanish stones and other circles.

    One thing I noticed more prominently was when going out and about, though it’s a concept I was familiar with, is how many of these ancient sites and their functioning were part of the landscape and are connected to other sites as well as features in the natural surroundings. At the Callanish Standing Stones for example there are quite a few other stone circles placed in the viewable vicinity, as well as some hills on the horizon which form a silhouette known as the ‘The old woman of the moors.’
    This just seemed so similar to me to another site I’d read about in Spain, the Dolmen of Menga (with the name likely originating from cova domenica, meaning ‘cave of the lady’) which aligns to a mother goddess silhouette figure in the landscape. See an image here.

    “Unusually for dolmens on the Iberian Peninsula, which, almost exclusively, are orientated towards the rising sun, Menga’s axis points instead towards the sleeping figure of Peña de los Enamorados, some 6km to the east and clearly visible from inside the monument. This is no coincidence: clearly the striking silhouette held significant meaning for the people who built Menga.” ~Extract from CurrentWorldArachaeology magazine article on ‘Dolmens of Antequera’ in issue 84.

    It just seems that sometimes one can be inclined to look at ancient building works in isolation. Perhaps figuratively a bit like a visitor looking in, rather than a user of an ancient site looking out. As it seems that in many cases, along with the central ‘star of the show’— the Sun, whole natural surroundings (stars, mountains, other sites, lakes, caves, rivers etc.) were beautifully incorporated to literally immerse someone in the surroundings that tell the deeper meaning of the story of the path of the sun.

    It would be wonderful to visit some of the more exotic sacred sites all around the world as well! Or if that’s not possible even to hear people’s experiences of visiting such places.

    • Good to hear you were able to visit some sacred sites in person Karim. I can say I’ve never regretted the efforts I’ve made to go to these often remote places! What you mention about the site itself usually being simply the central focus point of a much wider sacred landscape is something I’ve come away with too, especially when I’ve had the chance to get to know a wider sacred landscape through multiple visits, or by spending more than a day there.
      It’s a poor analogy, but it made me think of how tourists often go to a city and make a beeline to the iconic places, take a few pictures and leave, thinking they’ve seen the city. But actually it’s the different neighbourhoods and smaller backstreets that make its essence and real character, as anyone who’s lived there will know.
      I’ve also noticed it takes me a while to tune into new places, and even to tune into nature itself after a period of being a bit ‘domesticated’. I’ve taken my daily, dulled, psychology with me and viewed amazing places through the white noise of my mind and come away with quite little. But when I try to approach sacred sites with reverence and take time to work with meditation, etc., to heighten my perception internally, I get the most out of these encounters. Otherwise, it’s just like all the people who’ve seen the Great Pyramids but don’t feel anything of their real power!

      • Yes, that’s a good point Ella about how important it is to work to gain inner clarity, in order to fully appreciate these sacred sites and landscapes and “tune in” to the surrounding environment.

  • It was nice to read this fresh overview on sacred sites. I especially like that categorising of the ancient sites into types as seen in the image-slide. Sometimes putting an order or structure to it like that can help when looking into these things in the past.

    The website that is linked to ‘modernexploreres.co.uk’ is pretty cool as well with those guys going around the world checking out many of these sites themselves (as well as the amount of intriguing sites they’ve got listed on their website.) I think, when possible, there’s a big advantage in going to a site in person rather just reading about it, because you can get a feel for the place, get insights and see it in different ways, and often there are local people with insider stories or you can come across people there who share the same interest etc. There’s so many places I would love to visit.

    There’s a lot more sacred sites out there and in a lot more places than I ever knew! So many with alignments to celestial events. My view of it has definitely changed quite a bit.
    Perhaps some sites aren’t as well known because from a strictly archaeological viewpoint they may not be considered so noteworthy? Yet looking at the same site with a different perspective, placing it into the bigger context of spirituality and the story of the Sun, a site might become very special.

    I’ve also heard of the Bosnian Pyramids and looked into it a tiny bit. One Egyptian researcher who investigated on site said it seems to him to be a natural formation that was intentionally modified to be used as a site. That seems about right to me. But others have different views, some geologists might disagree (which is also in question in this terrific documentary by Graham Hancock about underwater structures.) But it seems deciphering an ancient site is often not so easy, and one needs an understanding of the bigger picture amongst other things, but it’s very interesting and worthwhile nonetheless 🙂

    “The information gathered on this site can hopefully help raise awareness and bring together a network of research that will ultimately expand our understanding of our ancient past and the deeper history of sacred sites aligned to the sun.” Sounds fantastic!

    • Thanks for your comment Karim. Yes the amount of ancient sites with solar alignments is quite extensive. It really puts into perspective the magnitude of the religion of the sun once upon a time.

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