Top 10 Beautiful Sacred Sites Around the World that You Must Visit
Religion has played a very big part in our everyday lives. This structure of society designates a person’s certain behaviors, morals, and practices that he or she has and shows in his or her everyday life. It comes in different forms and kinds. There’s Christianity, Hinduism, Muslim, Taoism, and Buddhism to name a few. Even Christianity comes in different various forms such as Christian Catholic, Christian Baptist, and Mormons. One fascinating thing about it is that in every place there is in the world, there’s a possibility that most people in a certain place have different religions. There’s even the slightest chance that a family’s members can have different religions. The possibilities are endless.
One aspect of religions is that they have their own different beliefs. These religions believe in a certain understanding of the world and how it came to be. Most of them consider holy places for each religion. These places are usually the origin of the religion. Just like how it is Jerusalem for Christianity and China for Confucianism. These places hold a very important meaning for every religion. If you’re a religious person or someone who finds the different religions very interesting, you may want to go and explore these places.
If you’re planning on going to a travel escapade, you might want to go ahead and try to visit these sacred sites for different religions. It’s a very interesting thing to see and learn about these places and know the role they play in their respective religions. The curiosity to know more about this place is something that a person usually wants to feed with research. But when opportunity comes knocking, one wouldn’t let this once in a lifetime opportunity to see these places in real life. This article will guide you to the Top 10 sacred places for different religions that you need to visit.
If you’re a Christian, one place that you surely know is the Christian quarter in Jerusalem, also known as the Holy Land. This place is known to have a lot of sacred Christian sites. The most popular sacred place in the Christian Quarter is the Church of Sepulchre. It is known to be the most sacred site for Christians all over the world. For Christians, this Church holds two of the most sacred sites in Christianity. The first sacred site is known to be where Jesus was crucified, a place known by most people as “Calvary” or “Golgotha.”
The second one is His empty tomb, a place where He was buried and where He resurrected. This place is considered as the heart of the Christian quarter, which is why the Church is placed in the middle of it. Another sacred site that can be found in the Christian Quarter is the Via Dolorosa or also known as Way of Sorrow. It is known to be the trail that Jesus took from the place where he is arrested to the place of his crucifixion while carrying the cross. It is marked by the 14 Stations of the Cross. You can easily follow this path with or without the help of a tour guide as there are also a lot of tourists that go to this exact trail on their way to the Calvary.
The first station starts near the Muslim Quarter. Heading East, there are 8 stations along the path. The path will lead you to the Church of Sepulchre, where the remaining 5 stations are, before you arrive at Calvary. There are a lot of things you can do in the Chirstian Quarter. There are shops, restaurants, cafes, and hotels located all over the place. Some private hotels are built by churches for religious pilgrims to stay in on. The Jaffa Gate serves as the welcoming site for all tourists who want to go to the Christian Quarter. Enjoy your stay in Jerusalem and stroll along the Christian Quarter to make your stay a very spiritual experience.
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Known to be the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Angkor, Cambodia that covers up to 402 acres of land. The highest point of this temple reaches more than 700 feet in height. Angkor Want means “City of temples” in Khmer.” This place was originally called Vrah Visnuloka or Parama Visnuloka which means the sacred dwelling of Vishnu.
It was constructed in the first half of the 12th century by King Suryavarman II and was finished by Jayavarman VII. It is said that this place is modelled after the mythological Hindu Mount Meru. Mount Meru is a place where Hindus believe that their ancient Gods lived. It was created by the Khmer Empire as a temple dedicated to Vishnu. It was said to be the reason why the features of this temple were made to face the West side because of Vishnu’s association with the west. Although it was built to be a Hindu temple, it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the late 12th century.
It is a famous UNESCO World Heritage Sit and was included in the 7 Wonders of the World. The walls of this temple is covered with different carvings of apsaras (nymphs) and other mythological events and figures. This is a nice place to visit to see the mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism’s beliefs, mostly the latter, placed in a single temple. It’s also a nice place to visit for those who want to know about Cambodia’s history.
Qufu in Shandong Province, China
Qufu is located at 35° 36′ northern latitude and 117°02′ east, about 130 km south of the provincial capital Jinan and 45 km northeast of the sub-provincial city Jining. It covers a total area of 896 sq km. It’s local feature is Confucianism as it was the birthplace of its founder, Confucius (kongzi), the “sacred master of literature”.
This ancient Chinese art of etiquette, originated mainly in Qufu. Confucianism, which is believed to be a philosophy rather than a religion, was a series of codes for China’s population to follow. As they hope that by abiding to such conduct would result in a population living harmoniously under the traditional Chinese system, a feudal system of altruistic despotism.
Al-Maghtas in Jordan
Al-Maghtas, which means “baptism” or “immersion” in Arabic, is an archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan, on the east bank of the Jordan River, officially known as Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan”. Situated nine kilometres north of the Dead Sea, this archaeological site consists of two distinct areas: Tell Al-Kharrar, also known as Jabal Mar-Elias (Elijah’s Hill) and the area of the churches of Saint John the Baptist near the river. With its pristine environment, the site is believed to be the location where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.
Roman and Byzantine remains are featured here including churches and chapels, a monastery, caves that have been used by hermits and pools in which baptisms were celebrated, testifying to the religious character of the place. The site is indeed considered as a Christian place of pilgrimage. According to Antiquities Law 21/1988, art. 3, par 8, the property is designated as an antique site. Under this law, this site will be protected and managed as it prohibits destruction, damage or alteration of the antiquity itself and regulates development works around it, so as to avoid major impact on the antiquity and on its contextual perception.
Sistine Chapel in Italy
The Sistine Chapel is the official home of the pope and is a large chapel in the Vatican City which is well known for its Renaissance art, specifically the ceiling painted by Michaelangelo. It took Michaelangelo four years to finish painting this frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. His depiction of God through his paintings was one of a kind, especially during this time. It showed a man with a beard and long white hair. It has become common up to this day that it even appeared on filters in lots of social media platforms.
Yet, until that point, God has not been portrayed as a man in that way. There are a total of nine ceiling panels and one of them was known as ‘The Creation of Adam’ as it depicts scenes from the book of Genesis. These ceiling frescoes cover a total of 12,000 square feet while the dimensions of the main hall of the Sistine Chapel are approximately 132 feet long, 44 feet wide, and 68 feet high. While being repaired between the years 1477 and 1480, Pope Sixtus IV lent his name to the church. Despite the fact that it was built over 500 years ago, it is still used for its original purpose. It was completed in 1481 and held its first mass in 1483. It attracts more than 5 million visitors each year but tourist arrivals are currently affected by the pandemic.
The Great Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia
This great mosque is considered as the holiest shrine in Islam. It receives millions of worshippers each year as it is one of the destinations of the hajj and ʿumrah pilgrimages. The oldest parts of this modern structure date up to the 16th century. It comprises a rectangular central courtyard surrounded by covered prayer areas and is the site of several pilgrimage rituals. Pilgrims use the courtyard to perform the ritual circumambulation of the Kaʿbah, known as the ṭawāf.
The Parthenon in Athens, Greece
The Parthenon was considered the center of religious life in the powerful Greek City-State of Athens. Built in the 5 Century B.C. with a height of 45 feet, and a base with 228 feet by 101 feet. History books say it started being built during 447 BC which means it’s now over 2,460 years old. For Athens, it was a symbol of their power, wealth and elevated culture. It was also known to be the largest and most luxurious temple the Greek mainland had ever seen. For those confused between the Acropolis and the Parthenon, the Acropolis is the high hill where the Parthenon, which is an old temple, sits on. Basically speaking, the Acropolis was the hill while the Parthenon is the ancient structure.
This structure has a couple of conversions starting from being a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. Then, converted by the Christians into a church and was taken over by the Turks to make it a mosque with a minaret constructed above it. Sadly, during the late 1600’s, the Acropolis was used as a military point when the Venetians and Turks were fighting over Athens, due to its high position. The explosives stored in the Parthenon went off and blew up its interior. According to tourist experiences, the rocks on Acropolis are quite slippery, so wearing shoes with good traction is recommended when you visit.
Mount Zion in Jerusalem
Mount Zion is mentioned in the Bible as the place where Yahweh, the God of Israel, dwelt (found in Isaiah 8:18; Psalm 74:2), the place where He is King (Isaiah 24:23) and where he has established his king, David (Psalm 2:6). It is one of the most important places for Yahweh in history. Zion is a location in the Hebrew Bible used as a synonym for Jerusalem, and even referred metaphorically as the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s holy, and eternal city in the new testament. It stands at 2,533 feet. In Biblical references, Rashi identified the location as the source of “joy or happiness” as mentioned in the Psalm as the Temple Courtyard, the location of atonement offerings in the northern part of the Temple complex.
For some scholars, the name also belonged to the “stronghold of Zion” taken by David (2 Samuel 5:7), which may have been believed as the fortress of the city. In 1951, Jacob Pinkerfeld, an archaeologist, expounded the lower parts of the Mount Zion structure which is also known as David’s Tomb, as the remains of a synagogue which, he concluded, had later been used as a Jewish-Christian church. Zion is contrasted with Babylon. Just as Zion is both a real and a spiritual place, Babylon is its total opposite as it was described as a real place that has a symbolic, spiritual counterpart as the persecutor of God’s people and a city of evil found in Revelation 18:1-24.
Stonehenge in United Kingdom
A world heritage site and was known to be the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world. It was also a cemetery and archaeological site located in Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, two miles (3km) west of Amesbury. Built in six stages during the transition from the Neolithic Period (New Stone Age) to the Bronze Age, between 3000 and 1520 BCE. It consists of a ring of standing stones, each standing tall at around 3 feet (4.0 m) high, seven feet (2.1 m) wide, and weighing around 25 tons. It was once a simple earthwork enclosure where prehistoric people buried cremated bodies of their dead.
There are two types of stones used at Stonehenge. One is the larger sarsens and the smaller bluestones. Most archaeologists believe that the sarsens were brought from Marlborough Downs (20 miles away), while the bluestones came from the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales (140 miles). Up to this day, the exact method is still unknown, but the stones were probably dragged across the land or carried to the site using water networks.
Beliefs and opinions spread on who built this gigantic, enchanting site which even include aliens. But, one of the most popular beliefs was that it was built by the Druids. It was said that these high priests of the Celts constructed it for sacrificial ceremonies. Stonehenge was first linked to the Druids by John Aubrey.
Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem
Western Wall, also called Wailing Wall, and is Ha-Kotel Ha-Maʿaravi in Hebrew, in the old city of Jerusalem, is a sacred place for prayer and pilgrimage to the Jewish people. This wall is one of the four supporting walls of the Temple Mount that remained intact after the destruction of the Second Temple. It is currently considered to be around 2,038 years old and is 488 meters long. In the past, the Western Wall rose to a height of 60 meters while today, its highest point reaches up to 40 meters above the bedrock of the eastern hill of Jerusalem (Mt. Moriah).
Remains of four ancient gates can be found along the Western Wall. Some of these were named after Jerusalem scholars and researchers of the 19th century, such as: Robinson’s Arch, Barclay’s Gate, the gate above Wilson’s Arch, and Warren’s Gate. Placing notes in the wall has been practiced for quite some time now and was traced to the Midrash teaching that the Divine Presence has never been moved from the Western Wall along with the Kabbalistic teaching that all prayers ascend to Heaven through the Temple Mount. While the majority of people who pray here are Jewish, it is still possible for people of any faith to approach and pray at the wall.