Global Pilgrimage Sites

Discover the largest pilgrimage centers in the world

That faith moves to the mountains is more than a popular saying. Each of the cultures and religious faiths has powerful legends and important places of worship. Whether they are temples, shrines, mountains, or rivers, many believers travel to pilgrimage centers with the intention of showing their devotion and even correcting their sins. In a sense, these journeys are a way of coming into contact with the sacred, the prophetic and the supernatural. Let’s take a look at some of the gods pilgrimage centers most visited from around the world.

The largest pilgrimage centers are.

1. Mecca in Saudi Arabia: the birthplace of Muhammad

In addition to being one of the main cities of the Arabian Peninsula, Mecca is a place of great value to Muslims , whose sacred texts state that it is the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad.

Mecca, Saudi Arabia – Sufi

The importance of this place is that visiting this holy city, at least once in a lifetime, It is one of the five basic pillars of this religion, the list of which also includes fasting, prayer, almsgiving and the profession of faith.

As for the pilgrimage, it usually takes place every year under the name of Hajj in the month of du-i-hiyyah, i.e., the twelfth in the Muslim calendar. At least three million pilgrims pour into Mecca each year .

inside It has many holy sites like the Masjid al-Haram mosque, the largest in the world, or the Kaaba, a cube-like building that houses a meteorite fragment in the direction in which Muslim believers pray five times a day.

As a curiosity, each of the penitents must pass seven times as they try to reach one of its corners with their hands, something very difficult to get into the crowd, which is usually insane.

2. Benares in India: the sacred waters of Hinduism

Benares, also known as Varanasi, is on the list of the seven holy cities of Hinduism , What has been called the “Holy City of the Ganges” is India’s most spiritual city because of its location on the banks of this river and one of the most popular centers of pilgrimage.

Varanasi, India – Silence

Local legends say that its foundation is due to the hand of the gods themselves , It has many temples dedicated to various deities, among which Shiva is the most recognizable. Hindus make pilgrimages where they can pray in shrines dedicated to them and also when they see the end of their lives near the intention of burning. Thus they ensure that their ashes are released into the sacred waters of the Ganges River.

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As for Buddhists, they also usually approach Varanasi and occupy many of its characteristic steps, which descend on the banks or ghats, because in its surroundings the Buddha offers his first speech.

In short, it is a place of splendid spectacle and a unique personality that leaves no one indifferent and whose image cannot be forgotten.

“We don’t need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power, we don’t need more things, we need more things than we see.”

-Calvin Coolidge-

3. Santiago de Compostela in Spain: following in the footsteps of St.

A pilgrimage to Santiago, Camino de Santiago, a journey that can be made from various points of Spain and Europe to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, whose cathedral gives refuge to the relics of this saint.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain – Sergey Golotin

Its great importance and the number of pilgrims traveling through it have made it the French routes leading to Santiago have been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. In fact, there are many walkers who come to Galicia not only from France, but also from Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal and Belgium.

As a curiosity, it should be noted that because of the vast distance, it has earned the honorary title of “European Major Street.” The history of this journey is long and very rooted in the collective culture, that is, the pilgrimage to Santiago has been going on since 821.

4. Mount Kailash in Tibet: the sacred mountain of the Himalayas

In addition to the origin of some of Asia’s largest rivers, Mount Kailash is a sacred mountain for Buddhists , Its religious value is such that no one in history has ever attempted a study through climbing. It is more , commonly known by the name Kang Rinpoche , which translates as Castilian as “the jewel of snow.”

Mount Kailash – Vladimir Melnik

Following tradition, thousands of Buddhists and Hindus every year come to the foot of the hill with the intention of walking for different reasons , It is amazing to contemplate the pilgrims of different religions to drive 52 kilometers of the ring road of the mountain range in opposite directions and find yourself in the middle of the road.

13 World’s Most Unforgettable Pilgrimages

Whether you’re looking for spirituality or just a fantastic way to purify your soul and escape the hectic demands of modern life and all those high-tech distractions, these amazing pilgrimage routes around the world are especially worth the effort – and, a long walk might just change your life.

Glastonbury Tor.

Glastonbury Tor Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor, UK

A half-day trip to the top of Glastonbury Tor, the hill atop St. Michael’s Tower without shelter, is considered a journey of rebirth that you’ll return from being completely transformed. Rich in legend and mythological associations, it may have been the site of an ancient ritual, though it was known as a pilgrimage site for Catholics during the Middle Ages. It is a popular destination both for Grail theorists and for those who simply want to make the climb to enjoy the panoramic view of the Somerset countryside.

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Pagan traditions abound here Thor and within walking distance of Stonehenge, which was built between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C. It remains one of the most compelling mysteries of ancient times – despite all the modern scientific technology being used to unlock the secrets of this giant structure, no one has yet figured out its origins. For many, a trip to this ancient city is a bucket list item, and thousands of people gather around the mystical site every year for the summer and winter solstice.

Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, Tibet

Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, Tibet Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, Tibet

Pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, Tibet

A popular pilgrimage site for more than 15,000 years, the 32.3-mile walk around Mount Kailash can reportedly “erase the sins of a lifetime.” Mount Kailish is one of the most sacred places on earth, a sacred pilgrimage site for people of Hinduism, Jain, Bon and Buddhist beliefs It will take about three days – starting at 15,000 feet, and includes a walk of 18,372 feet. According to Buddhist teachings, if you manage to keep going for 108 rounds, you will reach Nirvana, although climbing the mountain is forbidden. If you are planning to trek, it is best to contact a travel company that will help you with transportation to Tibet as well as travel to the base of Mount Kailash.

The Way of St. Olav, Norway

The Way of St. Olav, Norway The Way of St. Olav, Norway

The Way of St. Olav, Norway

It will take you a long time to hike the nearly 400-mile St. Olav’s Way. Not only is it quite long and challenging, but you’ll want to enjoy the country’s particularly impressive and often secluded natural scenery that traces the path of medieval European pilgrims to St. Olaf’s tomb in Trondheim, though the reward is very good – Worth the effort. If you can’t figure out the distance, you can take the train. Nidaros Cathedral, located at the end of the hike, is worth the effort in itself, although the difficulty of the journey will probably inspire not only a physical sense of accomplishment, but also a spiritual one.

Ancient Kumano Trail, Japan

Ancient Kumano Trail, Japan Ancient Kumano Trail, Japan

Kumano Ancient Trail, Japan

Made popular by emperors more than 10 centuries ago, the ancient Kumano Trail, located in the Kii Mountains south of Osaka, leads to three sacred shrines, numerous sanctuaries and tea houses, with particularly stunning views along the way. The hike itself was an integral part of the pilgrimage process, as emperors and aristocrats performed strict religious rites of worship and purification. It offers an incredible, spectacular experience of the unique cultural landscape of the region’s spiritual countryside. In addition, you can count on your aches and pains to disappear at the end of each day, as hotels with hot springs are nearby.

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Inca Trail

Inca Trail Inca Trail

Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Peru

This life-affirming trip along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is talked about so often that it has almost become a clich√©, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The unforgettable adventure is hugely inspiring, with a foundation for embracing the Andes, a high-altitude trek laid more than 500 years ago. Experts believe the Incas built the trail as a sacred pilgrimage to prepare visitors for the entrance to Machu Picchu, the lost city that explorer Hiram Bingham discovered a century ago. Although the 26.7-mile walk can be challenging, in part because of the rugged terrain and altitude, the reward for your efforts is the chance to gaze upon the legendary “Lost City of the Incas”-and feel transformed in doing so. You will pass through the Sun Gate (Intipunca) at dawn, walking in the footsteps of the Incas, who were thought to have built the trail as a sacred pilgrimage.

Madonna del Gisallo, Lombardy, Italy

Madonna del Gisallo, Lombardy, Italy Madonna del Gisallo, Lombardy, Italy

Madonna del Gisallo, Lombardy, Italy

If you prefer to walk, this is an ideal pilgrimage. The 17th-century Madonna del Gisallo, a chapel in Lombardy, Italy, is known as the Mecca of the cycling world. The trip is dedicated to Del Gisallo, the patron saint of cyclists, and the chapel’s walls feature glass-framed jerseys from the world’s best riders on every inch of the interior. The chapel contains an amazing collection of memorabilia and also lights an eternal flame for cyclists who died competing in the sport. The classic ride to the chapel follows the scenic shores of Lake Como, climbing 1,811 feet and being about 6.5 miles long.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela Santiago de Compostela

The Way of Saint James, France

The Way of Saint James, also known as the Camino de Santiago, is one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in Europe. More than 100,000 people make the journey each year to Santiago de Compostela, the resting place of St. James. The most popular route begins in the southern town of Saint-Jean-Pierre-de-Port in France, crosses the Pyrenees through Lower Navarre and passes through northern Spain to the famous cathedral where the Apostle Saint James is said to be buried, a very long 450-mile stretch between charming towns and vast cornfields. Walkers spend the night in simple family hostels that are scattered along the route, taking about three weeks to complete.

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Croix Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland

Croix Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland Croix Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland

Croix Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland

If you can make the steep ascent of the 2,509-foot high mountain, you’ll enjoy particularly spectacular views along the west coast of Ireland. This is where St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, spent 40 days and nights praying, fasting, and banishing snakes from the country. More than a million people from around the world make the journey each year to walk in his footsteps — and many do so barefoot.

The climb is difficult, but takes about two hours or so to reach the top, where you can attend Mass in the chapel, or just admire the spectacular views before heading back to drink a Guinness or two in the pub.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco, Mexico

Atotonilco Sanctuary, Mexico Atotonilco Sanctuary, Mexico

Sanctuary of Atotonilco, Mexico

About 30 weeks a year, between 5,000 and 10,000 pilgrims converge on the Sanctuary of Atotonilco from all over Mexico, and the usually desolate and dusty main street of the village is filled with worshippers. A tradition that dates back to the early 19th century, the annual midnight pilgrimage begins at the sanctuary and covers seven miles to San Miguel de Allende in a walk that takes about six and a half hours. The sanctuary is a church complex that is quite an intense combination of beauty and violence, with a magnificent chapel ceiling that artist Antonio Martinez de Pocazangre spent more than 30 years creating, depicting the torture and beating of Jesus Christ in rather gruesome detail–which has made the pilgrimage site popular with those who practice religious penance

Char Dham, India

Char Dham, India Char Dham, India

Char Dham, India

Char Dham is among the four pilgrimage sites of particular importance to Hindus, most of whom aspire to visit at least once in their lives. Located in the state of Uttaranchal at the foot of the Himalayas, they also offer a great trip for non-religious people who want to learn more about Indian culture and traditions as well as the natural beauty of the region. More than a quarter of a million visitors from around the world make this trip each year. Most begin their journey in the temple town of Haridwar, although some leave from Rishikesh or Dehra Dun, the capital of Uttaranchal. Tradition usually prescribes visiting places from east to west, beginning with Yamunotri and ending with Badrinath. This pilgrimage can usually be achieved in about two weeks, or you can also visit only one of the four sites in a few days.

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Huaringas Lagoons, Peru

Huaringas Lagoons, Peru Huaringas Lagoons, Peru

Lagoons of Huaringas, Peru

The Lagoons of Huaringas consists of 14 ponds and lakes and is a popular pilgrimage site for those seeking spiritual healing from witches or a sacred shaman who lives in the area. They hold ceremonies for those suffering from all kinds of illnesses, usually using a hallucinogenic drink known as ayahuasca, which is said to cure everything from colds to heroin addiction to depression . Those who make the journey to the shaman have special ceremonies, first visiting the lakes to bathe in the cold waters, which are said to absorb illnesses and restore positive energy. This is followed by an intimate ceremony that takes place in the home of the “teacher” at midnight, when the shaman uses his healing powers to cure the participants of what ails them.

Adama Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

There are many legends that center around the curious depression atop this mountain in Sri Lanka known as the Sacred Trail. The original Buddhist story claims that it is the footprint of Buddha himself. Although there are many other claims, such as the Hindu tradition that the trail belongs to Shiva, Adam’s Peak remains essentially a Buddhist place of worship, and the mountain has been the object of pilgrimage for over a thousand years. Whoever owns it, the spectacular summit is usually climbed in the cool night hours with breaks taken from the steep ascent at one of the many tea stores along the 4.3-mile drive. With the right timing, you can watch the magnificent sunrise over Sri Lanka before you determine for yourself who this mysterious trail belongs to.

Bodh Gaya, India.

Bodh Gaya, India Bodh Gaya, India

Bodh Gaya, India

According to Buddhist tradition, about 2,600 years ago, Gautama Buddha sat under a bodhi tree in what is now Bodh Gaya, India and achieved enlightenment, which of course is not easy. This is why many Buddhists from all over the world flock to this legendary place where the bodhi tree still stands. Although it is not the original, it is said to have been grown from cuttings. Monks in saffron robes from Thailand, Bhutan, and many other countries roam in groups throughout the city, visiting the main Mahabodhi temple and other Buddha shrines. Routes to Bodhgaya often passed through another famous pilgrimage site, Varanasi, on the way to the “Navel of the Earth.”

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