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The world is full of different cultures and their spiritual and religious beliefs. Those who dare to traverse the unknown have the opportunity to experience the rich history that is linked to these cultural beliefs and practices first hand.
There are thousands upon thousands of holy sites all over the world. Some are more prevalent than others, but they’re all tied to that rich cultural history and therefore always worth the trip. Of course, with so many, it can be hard to choose which ones to visit in your lifetime.
That’s why we’ve curated a list of the world’s top 7 holy sites to get you started.
Holy Sites Around the World
Trust us, you don’t have to be a religious person yourself to become mystified by the holy sites where cultural significance and meaning have withstood the test of time. You will, however, leave with a much fuller heart than you came with after basking in their awesomeness up close and personal.
From the mountains of Olympus to the very location where the Buddha achieved enlightenment, these are the origins of legends. Some are still used to carry out ancient rituals as well as modern ceremonies. Others stand still, as a relic that reminds us of what once was.
Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs are, these holy sites encompass such special energy that they attract hoards of people from all over the world. If you plan on visiting any of the 7 holy sites below, you’ll be able to witness that magic for yourself.
1. Jerusalem, the Middle East
Jerusalem is arguably the holiest place in the entire world. It’s also one of the oldest cities to date. Jerusalem holds holy sites of Judaism, holy sites of Christianity, and even that of Islam. Nestled in the Middle East, the city of Jerusalem is claimed as the capital by both Israel and Palestine, making it the spark that has ignited several holy wars throughout history.
In this city you’ll find the Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa, the Al Aqsa Mosque, and possibly most important of all—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is said to be where tomb where Christ was buried and rose from the dead.
2. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, India
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple rests on the west bank of the River Ganges in India. The river itself is said to have healing powers, and the temple—filled with stunning architecture—is one of the most important to the Hindu religion.
The temple is dedicated to the metaphysical concept of the supreme being otherwise known as the Brahman. The philosophy behind this concept is called Shaiva. The temple had been rebuilt multiple times throughout history, but that hasn’t slowed down the 22 million visitors it attracts each year.
3. Vatican City, Italy
The Vatican, located in the independent city-state in Rome, is part of a yearly pilgrimage for many devout Catholics. It’s home to the Pope and is thought of as the spiritual hub of the global Catholic church. If you plan to visit, you’ll be hard-pressed not to take a guided tour of the Vatican. (Trust us, it’s worth it!)
Vatican City is visited by 4.2 million people each year for religious purposes, its beautiful architecture, and incredible history. St Peter’s Basilica is also a focal point within the city and was designed by none other than Michaelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
4. Mecca, Saudi Arabia
In the eyes of Islam, Mecca is the holiest city. An average of 13 million people visit Mecca each year, and nearly all of them are Muslim. The journey to Mecca for devout Muslims is called the Hajj, and it’s encouraged that they make this journey at least once in their lifetime.
Mecca’s holy implication comes from the fact that it was the birthplace of their prophet, Muhammed. It’s also the site of his first revelation about the Quran.
Unfortunately, non-muslims are not permitted to enter the city of Mecca. They are, however, allowed to entire the city of Medina, which is another spectacular holy city.
5. Mount Sinai, Egypt
Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb and Jabal Musa (The “mountain of Moses”), is where Moses was said to have received the Ten Commandments from God. That would make this holy site of tremendous importance to the Jewish, the Christian, and Islamic faiths.
It is very common for visitors of all proportions to begin their trek up the mountain at one o’clock in the morning so that they can watch the sunrise from its summit.
6. The Seno-Ji Temple and Meiji Shrine, Japan
If you’re passing through Tokyo, the Seno-Ji Temple and the Meiji Shrine are must-see holy sites. The temple is the oldest in Tokyo, dating back to about 1,400 years. It’s dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, and its an exceptionally popular place to celebrate the new year.
The Meiji Jingu Shrine rests on a beautiful Iris garden and is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The entire complex of the shrine is buried deep within a beautiful forest, filled with trees relating to over 300 different species.
7. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built on a sacred Aztec site that was once known as the temple of the goddess Tonantzin Coatlaxpeuh. The ancient temple had been destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors upon entering the city.
The Basicilia also faced destruction in 1921, when a bomb was placed inside a flower vase, destroying the interior walls. A new Basicilia was built next to it as the Old Basicilia remains as-is for everyone to see. About 20 million people visit the Basilica each year, and the New Basilica can hold up to 50,000 people for mass.
There’s Always More to See
The list of holy sites in this world is endless. No matter where you go, you’re always within proximity to something phenomenal. Each holy place holds just enough magic for everyone to take a little bit home with them.
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