Even though the Shrine is in the center of the Lands, it is the first area that Wander actually sets foot in, as the only entrance to the Lands is an enormous bridge that spans halfway across the Forbidden Lands that leads directly to the Shrine.
There are two main areas in the Shrine. The first area Wander enters is a cylindrical room with a lengthy, spiral ramp winding around its edge, which Wander walks down to get to ground level. This room also contains a shallow basin of water. In addition to being important to the plot, the basin is where all Time Attack rewards will show up once unlocked.
The second area is the main hall of the shrine, containing the altar where Mono is placed, the idols representing the sixteen colossi, a balcony that over looks the land to the north, and a great sunlit aperture in the ceiling of the main hall where Dormin talks from.
The Secret Garden
At the end of the game, Agro and Mono try to exit the shrine, only to find that the giant bridge has collapsed. They notice, however, a path to their right, which leads them to a beautiful courtyard filled with fruit and various animals (including some not previously seen in the Lands). This location has been referred to as the "garden" or "secret garden" by fans.
It is possible for Wander to climb up the temple (see below) and explore this area. However, none of the animals mentioned above are present, and consuming the fruit will actually lower both Wander's maximum health and stamina considerably. Fumito Ueda, the game's director, puts this in a positive light, however: "The fruit in the ancient land was set to get you closer to non-human existence. The (secret garden's) fruit was set to return you to a human one".
Several animals can be found in the Shrine's garden with Mono at the end of the game. A few of them are not seen anywhere else, including a fawn and a chipmunk. The latter two are not present in the original American release.
Climbing up the Shrine
It is possible to climb up the Shrine all the way to the other side of its northern (back) entrance. From there, Wander can go to the garden or run all the way across the bridge to the Forbidden Lands' main entrance. He cannot exit the Lands, however; a mysterious gust of wind will force him back. In the original release, leaping diagonally up the path conserves stamina, as it takes almost no stamina to leap diagonally, and a small ledge could be utilized to rest on. As of the 2011 HD release, leaping diagonally now drains as much stamina as any other directional vertical leap, and it is no longer possible to rest anywhere on the climb up.
Note: the following video walkthrough is relevant only to the original version of the game (attempting the following in the 2011 HD release will not work).
Top of the Shrine
The garden is the highest point of the Shrine that can be climbed. It was not meant to be climbed any higher in the final game; those who have tried to climb higher through various glitches, cheats, or other exploits found that much of the ground had no collision detection, and that still higher geometry had no texture mapping. This was not always the case, however. Early builds of the game had a fully-textured top-half of the Shrine; apparently, it was originally planned for Wander to be able to climb all the way. Since fully developing the upper reaches of the architecture was a project of large scale but low development-priority, it was not worth the time required to implement it, and so the idea was scrapped.
Unlike entering a battle with one of the sixteen colossi, the Shrine of Worship does not have a theme that automatically begins to play. There are, however, several pieces of music that are featured in cinematics with the Shrine as their location. "Prohibited Art" and "Epilogue ~Those Who Remain~" are the only pieces to uniquely play in the Shrine, whereas "Commandment", "Black Blood", "Resurrection" and "Demise of the Ritual" can be heard elsewhere. "Prologue ~To the Ancient Land~" does not play in the Shrine itself but plays during Wander's journey up to the Great Bridge; this is the first view of the Shrine that players are given and is, consequently, one of the most iconic.
- It takes approximately eight and a half minutes in real time to run the entire length of the bridge.
- If the player manages to reach the garden, eating all of its fruit is inadvisable as it prolongs the colossus battles. As Wander's health and stamina increases over the course of the game, it becomes easier to defeat each colossus (this becomes obvious during the second playthrough). As a result, battles are much shorter and less challenging. Eating all of the garden's fruit at the beginning of a playthrough, however, will deplete Wander's strength and stamina and will make each battle last longer than otherwise.
- There are 37 fruits to shoot down in the garden. If Wander's health and stamina are maxed out, however, not even this will be enough to return them to the way they first were. It is thus advisable to attempt the "Cornucopia" trophy (PS3 release) at the beginning of a playthrough - when health and stamina are maxed - as one can eat all the fruits of the garden and regain a portion of lost health and stamina by then eating the Forbidden Lands' other fruits, lizards, and by defeating colossi.