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Early discussion

Why "when it is not completely a grave yard"? I think that in this case graveyard and church should still be inside landuse=religious (it may seem redundant to humans but software is not smart enough to detect such "obvious" cases). Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 09:21, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

"The area surrounding an amenity=place_of_worship" needs some qualifier. "used for religious purposes"? In some cases area surrounding amenity=place_of_worship clearly should not be tagged as landuse=religious Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 09:21, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Have done improvements on: area use, grave yard, operator. --Polarbear w (talk) 18:25, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

  • Something more precise than "used for religious purposes" would be better but it is OK Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 19:23, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

There is a discussion on the tagging mailing list right now about this. It seems this tag is pretty much the same as amenity=place_of_worship, (which is used like amenity=school). There probably is a lot of buildings with amenity=place_of_worship, but that's because people usually don't know exactly where the church's area begin or end, so it's easier to add it on the building. But that's by no means a restriction! So it seems landuse=religious isn't necessary. Feel free to discuss this on the tagging mailing list --Jgpacker (talk) 13:56, 31 July 2014 (UTC)(moved over from user talk page)

Place of Worships vs. School tagging

The spacial tagging of amenity=school is often cited as an analogy to amenity=PoW. However it is not.

Schools are easier because it is a different concept. A school is the full institution on the ground that you can build a fence around, including car park and the janitor's shed, in most people's understanding. If somebody would propose a "Place_of_Education", that would be just the classroom and the physical education pitch -- just for comparison with PoW.

PoW is the ceremonial place where people congregate and/or pray, indoors or outdoors. It cannot comprise parking and sheds. That's one of the reasons we need landuse=religion for.

Rules to coordinate the related tags

  • building=* should be used according the architectural style it is constructed.
  • amenity=place_of_worship should be used for the ceremonial place of worshipping, e.g. congregating and/or praying
  • landuse=religious should be used for the whole land comprising the ceremonial places as well as auxiliary structures

Amenity pow usage example.svg


Case 1

A building where worshipping ceremonies focus, surrounded by land which has a relation to the religion, and holds structures that are not used for the act of worshipping. The building often has architectural significance and stands out as a landmark.

  • Building: building=mosque, amenity=place_of_worship
  • Other buildings: building=* (according to the architectural style)
  • Land: landuse=religious


Building with focus of worship (for example with altar) and open space surrounding this building is used as a place of worship together with building - for example replicas of the grotto at Lourdes, with building resembling cave structure. Random photo of one: Wikipedia lists some:

Case 2

Places of worshipping that are not focused on a particular building, the ceremony is performed in a spacial manner, potentially in open space.

  • Land where the ceremony is performed: amenity=place_of_worship
  • If there is land around with auxiliary functions, e.g. as car parks: landuse=religious

That landuse could even hold multiple places_of_worship, as in the Japanese examples further below.

Case 3

Land which has a relation to the religion, holding e.g. administrative office buildings, seminar rooms, etc., but no particular building for worshipping ceremonies.

  • Land: landuse=religious
  • Buildings: building=* (according to the architectural style)

Case 4

Buildings that were erected for worshipping, thus still have the architectural significance and landmark character, but are now used for secular purposes, such as concert theatres or climbing halls. Some could be reactivated for the religious purpose by bringing the altar back.

  • Building: building=church, amenity=theatre

Case 5

Building that is used for ceremonial worshipping in dense urban environment, with no dedicated land around, e.g. a church wall-to-wall in a row of apartment buildings, thus the primary use of the land is residential:

  • Building: building=church, amenity=place_of_worship
  • Land around: landuse=residential


Building not built as a church, congregation happens in a rented warehouse in a commercial area:

  • Building: building=warehouse, amenity=place_of_worship
  • Land around: landuse=commercial

Case 6

Specific room for worshipping in a residential building, with no land around dedicated to the religious purpose:

  • Building: building=residential
  • Node for the room: amenity=place_of_worship
  • Land around: landuse=residential

Case 7

Italy you can find a lot of the "opposite" of PoW smaller than a building: an area for the place_of_worship (consecrated area) with a smaller area building=church for the actual church building inside it. Unfortunately this kind of tagging does not easily allow to tell if a church is in active use (spatial queries likely too expensive at runtime).

  • consecrated area: amenity=place_of_worship
  • Building: building=church, amenity=place_of_worship (if in use)

The nested use of PoW clarifies that the church is in active use.

Case 8

landuse=religious to map all the buddhist and shinto temple complexes in Japan. Some of them are huge, dotted with individual shrines, temples, sacred waterfalls, and maintained gardens. Even small local temples and shrines usually have more than a few things on their location (a few statures, a bell tower, garden, cemetery, and main temple building).

In the past, the shinto and buddhist temples were forced to share ground, so you get shinto stuff next to buddhist stuff in many places (which is why people follow a mix of shinto and buddhist practices in Japan), so it’s nice to have a “this place is religious” landuse, and individual PoW for buildings/things that have their own name and religious tag.

Shinto is where you get weird stuff, like the married rocks, sacred trees, or the spot with an interesting natural feature that is ”worshipped” - but for the vast majority of the temples and shrines here, they are very similar to a western church grounds in feature party.

landuse=religious vs. church_yard or cemetery

The whole page just lists random stuff more or less related to a place of worship, but at no point really explains what landuse=religious is. So far it is also pretty much used as church_yard only, so why not define and use that? --AndiG88 (talk) 21:38, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

  • church_yard is specific to christian religion, where the place_of_worship is a church. The landuse=religious also considers - and is already used - for all religions independent of the style of the building, and is therefore more universal. --Polarbear w (talk) 18:18, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
But landuse=religious is not just a church yard. So how do I use this on a church yard to distinguish it from maybe a church which is in the city and has no church yard? They are both obvious landuse=religious...
If your city church only consist of a building with no land around it I would not see a need to add the landuse tag. If you see a need to add it, you can still distinguish it from a church yard as in your city case it would be identical to the building outline.

What about a cemetery? That is not religious? --AndiG88 (talk) 22:33, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

  • some cemeteries are, some are not. They can be tagged religion=*, if they are. Typically cemeteries are larger and purpose-built, often without a place_of_worship on it; in contrast to grave_yards which are smaller areas around a place_of_worship (e.g. church). Thus they are already tagged as landuse, while grave_yard is tagged as amenity. --Polarbear w (talk) 18:28, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

What are religious purposes? Why not make it a property religion=*?

Please define for what this tag should be used. What are "religious purposes"? Is this anything that has to do with the church? Is the chapel in a train station a religious purpose? Is a hotel set up for pilgrimage a religious purpose? Is a place where the local comunity meets a religious purpose? Should St. Peter's Square in Rome get the landuse=religious tag (there are often services, but besides this it is just a square, i.e. landuse=highway). Should a catholic run kindergarten get the tag? IMHO "religious" is not a landuse, it is a property, and we have the religion=* tag to express it, it is used 839.000 times. There is nothing landuse=religious adds to religion=*, on the contrary, a religion=* has to be used additionally to say about which religion this is. Many of these "landuse=religious" objects will be overlapping/conflicting with other, well established landuses like residential, commercial, etc. --Dieterdreist (talk) 11:18, 21 March 2017 (UTC)

You are trying to find counter-examples because this tag is not your favourite, understood. However, as much as a convenience store in a residential area does not define a commercial landuse, a chapel in a station or airport does not change the main landuse. For you public square, the ceremony is not the main purpose, thus I would not use the tag there. The kindergarten already has a campus polygon, and its main use is educational.
I would not use religion=* alone since it is a descriptive tag for an object, so you would miss the object type. I do not see an overlap or conflict with residential or commercial, since a separate polygon would be used for the religious campus, which can be cut out, if necssary, from surrounding residential. Thus if you focus on the typical examples, the religious organisation operating a plot of land, which is often clearly fenced, with different objects on it as in the drawing above, the landuse tag is very useful. --Polarbear w (talk) 13:28, 21 March 2017 (UTC)
It's exactly this "object type" which I would like to define, there is no actual definition what it is about. What are /not "religious purposes"? The Vatican Museum? The Institute for the Works of Religion? A monastery? --Dieterdreist (talk) 14:03, 21 March 2017 (UTC)