The 10 most important sacred sites on the planet
Religious tourism has become increasingly popular in recent years. Sacred places, where millions of believers flock every year, are fascinating in their own right, even regardless of the beliefs and religions that are promoted there. There are unique and majestic buildings and monuments with spiritual significance, and people come to these places to draw closer to God, to find faith, or to heal from ailments. Learn about the most important sacred places on the planet.
1) Ta Prum
Ta Prum is one of the temples of Angor, a temple complex dedicated to the god Vishnu in Cambodia. It was built in the late 12th century AD by King Jayavarman VII of the Khmer Empire. Isolated and deliberately left in the jungle, like the rest of the temple complex, Ta Prum was conquered by wildlife. It is this aspect that attracts the most tourists – they dream of seeing an abandoned and overgrown temple from thousands of years ago.
The Kaaba is the most important sacred place in the Islamic world. Its history as a holy place goes back long before the time of the Prophet Muhammad. It was once the home of the statues of the Arab gods. The Kaaba is located in the center of the courtyard of the Holy Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Borobudur was discovered in the 19th century in the jungles of Java Island, Indonesia. This sacred temple is an amazing structure with 504 Buddha statues and about 2,700 reliefs. The full history of this temple is a mystery; it is still not known exactly who built this temple and for what purpose. It is also not known why such a majestic temple was abandoned.
4) Church of Las Lajas
One of the most amazingly beautiful and important sacred sites in the world, the Church of Las Lajas was built just under a century ago – in 1916 – on the site where, according to legend, St. Mary appeared to people. A woman with her sick, deaf and dumb daughter on her shoulders was walking through the area. When she stopped to rest, her daughter suddenly began to speak for the first time in her life and told of a strange vision in the cave. This vision turned into a mysterious image, the origin of which has not been established even in our days after detailed analysis. No paint pigments were supposedly left on the surface of the stone, although it may have been deeply embedded in the stone. Despite the fact that the image has not been restored, it is very bright.
5) Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul is truly an amazing place, it impresses everyone, even those who do not particularly believe in God or Allah. This temple has an enviable history that began with the construction of a Christian church in the 4th century AD by the Byzantine emperor Constantine I. It was once the most important Christian temple until it was eclipsed by St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. The church ceased to exist after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, led by Mehmet II in 1453, and the building of the temple housed a mosque. Despite the fact that the towers – minarets were added to Hagia Sophia, all the internal images of Christians were not destroyed, but only hidden under a layer of plaster.
6) St. Peter’s Cathedral
St. Peter’s Cathedral, one of the most amazing Catholic cathedrals in the world, is located in the Vatican. It is one of the most sacred places of the Christians, and the church itself was built in the 17th century. Not only is it one of the most beautiful architectural structures, but it’s also one of the largest and most spacious. It can hold up to 60,000 people at a time! It is believed that underneath the altar is the tomb of St. Peter.
7) The Sanctuary of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo was built no less than 3500 years ago and is still not forgotten. The Greeks considered it the “center of the world”, they came here as well as many pilgrims from different countries in order to hear the prophecy of the Oracle of Delphi – a stoned priestess, through whose mouth allegedly spoke to the faithful God.
Temple of Mahabodhi
The Mahabodhi Temple is one of the most impressive holy places in the world and the most sacred place for Buddhists. Thousands of Buddhists and Indian pilgrims come here every year, as well as many tourists. People believe that this is where Siddhartha Gautama attained Enlightenment by becoming a Buddha.
9) Luxor Temple
Luxor temple is an amazing and magical place. It is so huge that its walls could accommodate an entire village. Built in the 14th century BC, the temple was dedicated to Amon (later Amon-Ra), the most important of all Egyptian gods. At night the temple is illuminated by hundreds of lights, offering tourists an unforgettable spectacle.
10) Notre Dame de Paris
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One of the most famous cathedrals in the world and also one of the most beautiful is in Paris. It was built between 1163 and 1250 and is considered one of the most important monuments of Gothic architecture. Having witnessed a lot of historical events, the cathedral was often damaged and several times it was thoroughly restored. Today it is one of the symbols of France and an important tourist attraction that attracts both believers and ordinary tourists.
9 Most Incredible Spiritual Places in the World
Whether you’re looking for a place with stunning natural beauty or a place that could inspire you to make a life-changing transformation, these amazing spiritual places around the world are worth planning your next vacation.
Mont Saint Michel Mont Saint Michel
Chapel of Saint Michel d’Aguille, France
Mont Saint-Michel, one of France’s most iconic landmarks, is located on a rocky tidal island, which means that it is just an island at high tide, and at all times it has been connected by a causeway to the mainland. Rising sharply to the heavens, it has been considered a sacred place for thousands of years. A prehistoric dolmen was built there, and the Romans dedicated it to Mercury before the Christians built a chapel for St. Michael. One of the most popular places to visit in the country, about three million come here every year. The awe-inspiring abbey was built by devoted monks in the early eighth century after Archbishop Michael visited the bishop of Avranches. At its entrance is the ancient burghers’ guardhouse, which now serves as a tourist office. Visitors pass through the Boulevard Gate and then the fortified Royal Gate, where on the Grand Rue or main street you will find stores, museums and houses of the XV-XVI centuries.
Skellig Michael, Ireland
Eight miles from the town of Portmagee in County Kerry, Ireland, lies Skellig Michael Island, one of the most mysterious and remote sacred sites in all of Europe. Suddenly rising from the Atlantic, it takes a rather rocky boat journey to get here, but your reward is a rocky, windswept island with stone steps that reach a cluster of beehive-shaped stone huts that date back to the sixth century. It was here, on cliff tops over 750 feet high, that early Christian monks once lived, striving for the greater union of God, retreating from civilization to this remote and inaccessible but beautiful place. It is the westernmost sacred site along a long line of ancient pilgrimage sites that runs from western Ireland through France, Italy, and Greece, and then on to Mt. Carmel in Palestine. As you make the steep 600-step climb to see the monastic remains, keep an eye out for seabirds such as barnacles, stumpbills, black magpies, cormorants and more.
Varanasi Ghats Varanasi Ghats
Ghats of Varanasi, India
Varanasi is one of India’s premier spiritual sites and a city quite unlike any other. Called the land of temples and the city of Lord Shiva, this mystical holy city reveals its rituals along numerous river ghats, which are used for everything to burn the bodies of the dead for ablution. The holy waters of the Ganges River have received the remains of countless Hindus, and the Ghats that sit on its banks are chaotic and spiritual–a boat ride along the Ghats at dawn is truly an unforgettable experience. In this attractive place you will also find a lively mix of modern cafes and a variety of stores where you can buy everything from fine silks to rudraksha beads. Varanasi has hundreds of temples, each filled with history and religious significance, some as old as 1,000 years.
Vortexes of Sedona, Arizona
Sedona has attracted countless people interested in healing, spirituality, mysticism and metaphysics for years. Many come for something more than just the dramatic beauty of red rock, though that is enough. This region is famous for its vortexes, powerful centers of kinetic energy that are known to have a powerful effect on those who visit them, and there are four major ones scattered throughout the city. The ancient Javapai people knew all about these fascinating centers and celebrated their energy through sacred dwellings and petroglyphs. Today you can easily walk to any of the four sites, although Boynton Canyon is the most popular. And, guided tours are available as well. Many go to meditate, or just relax and soak up the magical atmosphere – most say they leave feeling completely refreshed after a visit.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica
Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica, Mexico
This main Catholic temple on the outskirts of Mexico City is one of the most visited holy sites in the world, drawing some 20 million people annually. Construction of the Old Basilica began in the 16th century and was not completed until 1709. It contrasts strikingly with the new giant basilica, built in the 1970s in a striking style that looks more like a stadium than a church. But the focus here is not on the architecture or the history of the building, but on the holy relic and the services held here. People come to Mass, which is celebrated several times a day, to see the image of the Virgin Mary, which is said to have appeared on the apron in 1531. The original miraculous apron depicting the Virgin hangs above the bulletproof glass on top of the altar in the new basilica. The image is of a woman with olive skin, not the white skin of European portraits, which appealed to both native Mexicans and their mestizo descendants.
Uluru-Cata Tiuta National Park Uluru-Cata Tiuta National Park
Uluru-Kata Tiuta National Park, Australia
Deep in the heart of red-rock country in the central Australian desert north of the Territory, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to the world-famous Uluru Rock, one of the country’s most photographed natural wonders. The striking red monolith rises above the landscape at 1,141 feet, forming the centerpiece of the park, and has various inscriptions made by native peoples. There are also fire-gray domed stones known as Kata Tyuta in the park. Shortly before sunset, visitors gather to watch the legendary stone and Kata Tyuta as they are transformed in changing light. Both sites are sacred to the Anangu people of the Pitjanjatjara aboriginal tribe, who believe that the stones were built during the ancient creation period and are still inhabited by ancestral spirits. Tours led by local guides and rangers are available, providing an inside look at these sacred structures.
Shwedagon Pagoda Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
Myanmar has had beautiful scenery and a rich culture for centuries, but for many years it was considered a place not to visit, controlled by the military and considered a rogue country. That has changed and today this country, formerly known as Burma, is an increasingly popular destination. Discover magnificent temples, pagodas and historical sites as well as beautiful isolated beaches. In Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, you’ll find faded grandeur similar to that of Asian Havana and the Shwedagon Pagoda, a 335-foot-tall golden spire of diamonds, rubies and sapphires that is considered one of the most revered Buddhist monuments. According to many travelers, it is one of the greatest wonders of the world. It is famous for housing the relics of the four Buddhas, and when you visit it at night, you can hear the cries of the faithful, smell the incense, and see the huge golden stupas shining in the floodlights.
Glastonbury Tor Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor, UK
Towering in the middle of the Summerset Meadows in Somerset, England, is a hill that has had a magical connection for centuries. For a long time it was the source of myth, and some ancient Celtic civilizations considered it the entrance to the house of Gwyn up Nudd, while pagans might have used it for ceremonies dedicated to the goddess. Later it was even seen as a possibility for King Arthur’s Avalon. More recently, theorists have linked this hill to the search for the Holy Grail. A half-day trip to the top is called a journey of rebirth, and you will return from it completely transformed. Thousands of people gather around it every year for the summer and winter solstice.
Salt Cathedral The Salt Cathedral
Salt Cathedral of Sipaquira, Colombia
This striking cathedral, one of the most unique and otherworldly holy places on Earth, was built using the massive galleries of an old salt mine and decorated with colorful lights that add mysterious and dramatic touches to its various chapels and hidden corners. The cathedral is the centerpiece of a gallite mine that has been active since the 5th century B.C. Today, workers are still digging salt in sections of the mountain above and below the Salt Cathedral, which is more than 500 feet underground. Although the Zipakira Salt Mine is one of many salt mines in the world, the Salt Cathedral is one of two, the other being in Poland.