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The Most Spiritual Places in the World Part I

posted in: Activities  |  posted by: Ian Harrison on June 2, 2008  |  1 Comment

Examine for a moment the purpose of vacation travel. Why do we flee the nest? To decompress, to discover new cultures, to experience natural beauty and to break from the rigors of routine? Yes. All good reasons to be sure. But what happens when we travel with a more noble purpose in mind? What happens when we embark on a spiritual journey?

The major religions of the world revere certain landmarks more than others. These shrines, temples, monuments and destination points galvanize and rally followers and serve as symbolic apotheoses. With priceless historical import and cultural merit, the pilgrimage sites that follow are valuable not only for adherents of their respective faiths but anyone who wishes to engage in a genuine holy journey. Here then are The Most Spiritual Places in the World.

Vatican City

The heart of the Catholic Church, the home of the Pope and the Holy See, the Vatican is a sovereign city-state with a population of 800 inside the city of Rome, Italy. Within the Vatican one can find the most important symbols of the Catholic faith.

St. Peter?s Square, The Vatican

These include the monumental St. Peter’s Basilica, Apostolic Palace – or home of the Pope, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Library and of course, the priceless collection within the Vatican Museum. With works by the likes of Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo and countless other masters, the museum is worth a day of your time alone.

Your Vatican City visit begins with a look at some superb hotel deals in beautiful Rome.

Vatican City from above

Amristar, India

With over 23 million adherents, the Sikh faith is a major spiritual force. Most followers dwell in the state of Punjab in India, whose territory became part of Pakistan post-partition. Amristar is a city of over 1.5 million in Punjab, in the northwest portion of India, that supports a considerable concentration of Sikhs.

The Golden Temple, Amristar, India

The city and district of Amritsar as a whole, contains the most precious symbols for Sikh devotees. Chief among them is the Harimandir Sahib. Known as the Golden Temple, the magnificent structure receives more visitors per annum than the Taj Mahal in Agra and as a result, is the top attraction in the country. The premier shrine in Sikhism, the Temple is also the site of some notorious and substantial events in the history of India.

Start your trip to India with a look at some great hotels.

The Golden Temple by night

Jerusalem, Israel

Perhaps the most unique, if not spiritually consequential, city in the world, Jerusalem is a pilgrimage site for three major world faiths. Christians, Jews and Muslims flock to Jerusalem in hordes to pay tribute to sites that demarcate some of the most important steps in the development of their respective doctrines. With a history that traces back thousands of years, the city is without peer in the realm of total spiritual import and human development.

Israeli soldiers pray at The Western Wall in Jerusalem

The Old City of Jerusalem contains no less than five central religious sites. For Christians there is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jews congregate at the Temple Mount and in turn, the Western Wall. For Muslims, Jerusalem ranks third in holy importance, with the Dome of the Rock and Masjid al-Aqsa as principal pilgrimage sites. The Armenian Orthodox faith also counts Jerusalem as a spiritual center and indeed, the city contains a Quarter with Armenian designation, in addition to Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

The Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Known as Mecca to most, the city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia is without a doubt, the paramount holy site in Islam. Of the five pillars of Islam, a pilgrimage or Hajj to Makkah is perhaps the most important. It is a basic requirement of all Muslims who are in good health and have the necessary means to visit the holy city near the Red Sea at least once. There are several steps inherent in the sacred duty of Hajj and every year, millions of adherents swarm the al-Masjid al-Haram, or Sacred Mosque, to circle the Black Stone, or Kaaba, which marks the Muslim direction of prayer.

Pilgrims on Hajj circle the Kaaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims also crowd the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwah, sip from the well of Zamzam and visit Mount Arafat to take part in vigils. Hajj must be done between the 10th and 15th day of the 12th month if the muslim calendar. Every year at this time, Makkah receives upwards of 2 million pilgrims, which the government of Saudi Arabia can barely contain. Still, the Hajj at Makkah is the most impressive congregation of humanity that occurs with annual regularity.

Hajj at Makkah

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