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Given the prohibition on entering a place of idol worship (Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayos, Avodah Zarah 1:3), when, if ever, is one permitted to visit a historical site that has been used as a place of idol worship in the past if it's no longer used as such?

Potentially relevant factors might be the extent to which the site is preserved (e.g. a fully standing church vs. the ruins of one) or the existence of religious symbols associated with idolatry (e.g. a pagan temple with statues of pagan gods vs. a place like Stonehenge which, while thought to have been used for religious purposes, bears no obvious indications of it)?

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Note there is a blessing to be recited over destroyed places of idol worship. (OC 224:2 IIRC) –  Double AA May 28 '14 at 22:07
Sources would be wonderful. –  Shmuel May 28 '14 at 22:25
See similar judaism.stackexchange.com/a/37802/5488 –  user5488 May 28 '14 at 22:34
Wasn't the Temple previously (bimei matityahu) used for idol worship? –  Charles Koppelman Jan 14 at 18:35

2 Answers 2

this is a mishna in Avoda Zarah 47b Shlosha batim hein, see also the mishna 41a Hamotzei Shivrei Tzlamim. one can assume that once they were destroyed the ovdei avoda zara were "mevatel" them.

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What if the idol was not destroyed, but the ovdei A"Z were? –  Charles Koppelman Jan 14 at 18:32
@CharlesKoppelman i dont understand your question –  Mefaresh Jan 21 at 18:18
This only answers part of the question - if the idol were in ruins. What if, for instance, the idol is well-preserved, but the religion that considers that idol holy has no more adherents? –  Charles Koppelman Jan 21 at 21:15

An Idol once worshiped continues to remain as an Idol till it is decimated. Humans,Moon are not Idols but plausible candidates for objects of Idolatry, only Idols are commanded to be destroyed e.g pagan Idols, crosses etc. Hence Idolatrous site which showcase the legacy of idolatry as if it is something to showcase then visiting such a place is sin.

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