There are countless religions in the world, and with those many faith systems come plenty of sacred locations. If you have an interest in world religions and cultures, then you’ll enjoy seeing the sites that people around the world hold dear. From Christianity to Hinduism, here are the most sacred places in the world.
1 Temple Mount
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the most sacred place in the entire world. It is considered a holy place for three of the world’s top religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. In ancient times, the Jewish Temple stood on the mount. At the end of the 7th Century, the Islamic Dome of the Rock was erected on the site. Today, people of all three religions travel far and wide to visit the place that (adherents to all three faiths agree) the God of Abraham provided as a holy place.
2 Mount Sinai, Egypt
This is another place that Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people consider sacred. In fact adherents to all of the many Abrahamic religions consider Mount Sinai holy. This mountain, located in Egypt, is where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. There is a Catholic monastery on its rugged slopes.
3 Mahabodhi Tree
The Abrahamic faiths are not the only religions with sacred sites. Buddhists travel from around the world to sit beneath a famous Bodhi tree in India. This is where the Buddha was meditating when he reached enlightenment, and many of his modern followers dream of meditating in the same location in hopes of gaining a little bit of its deep wisdom.
You may know it as Ayer’s Rock, but the Aboriginals of Australia have always called this massive red monolith Uluru. This is the most sacred site in the spirit-worshipping indigenous religion, and it is believed to house the spirits of the tribespeople’s ancestors. Since it is so significant to the local people, it has become a protected cultural site.
5 Mount Kailas
This remote mountain in Tibet is held as sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains. All three faiths believe that it is the axis of the universe, and each religion has its own beliefs about the site. According to Hindus, it is where Lord Shiva lives. To Buddhists, it is the home of Buddha Demchog. Jains believe it is where the first nirvana was ever attained.
A sacred site in Arizona? Yes, believe it or not, the desert is considered a mystical place to many people. Along with a handful of mountains sacred to Native Americans, Arizona is also home to the vortexes in Sedona. According to spiritual people who follow belief systems involving, for example, New Age and crystal magic, Sedona contains vortexes of spiritual energy that can leave a person refreshed and enlightened. The best way to find a vortex? Find a twisted juniper tree.
Mecca is the holiest city in the religion of Islam. In fact, Mecca has a place in the daily lives of Muslims everywhere. While praying, the faithful face their prayer mats toward this city. They also are supposed to take a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives. Mecca is sacred because it is the place where Mohammad, the founder of Islam, was born. The center of holiness in Mecca is the Kaabah, a small building inside the Sacred Mosque that is considered the House of God.
8 Holy Sepulcher
Located in Israel, this is the tomb where Christ was buried after his crucifixion. Since the 4th Century AD, there has been an ornate church built around the spot to protect it and provide a place for Christians to gather. Since this is believed to be the site where Jesus rose from the dead on what is celebrated as Easter, it is the most significant site in Christianity.
9 Golden Temple
Located in the religious complex Sri Harmandir Sahib, or “The Abode of God,” in Punjab, India, this stunning golden building is the holiest site in Sikhism. The Golden Temple actually has a whole lot of real gold on its walls, and the entire dome is covered in gold. This makes it a stunning place to visit no matter what you believe. The Golden Temple is always crowded and filled with people chanting from the Sikh holy book.
10 The Lotus of Bahapur
The Baha’I faith’s most venerated location is the Lotus of Bahapur, in Delhi, India. It is by far the youngest site on this list, since it was finished after seven years of construction in 1986. The Baha’i faith is founded on the idea that all religions are one. Thus, the Lotus of Bahapur is meant to be a place for people of all religions to gather and worship. This building is one of the most visited in the world, so apparently that purpose is being met.
Although not much is known about Stonehenge’s origins, historians are certain that it was a sacred site for ancient tribes living in Great Britain. You probably know all about the mysteries of Stonehenge, but what you might not know is that the 50,000 modern Druids still consider Stonehenge a sacred site. Modern Druidism, a branch of Neo-Paganism, is gaining popularity among ethnically British people, and the ancient lunar and solar festivals at Stonehenge are making a comeback.
Travel can be a profound, even life changing, experience. Whether you are religious or not, these most sacred places in the world offer visitors a perspective on faith, history, and culture. Don’t miss the chance to contemplate your place in the universe by following in the footsteps of millions of believers who came before.