The world is full of wonders, both natural and man-made. For thousands of years people have constructed wonders to celebrate their spiritual beliefs and luckily, many of them are still in existence. But how many have we seen without the aid of a screen? Actually going to these places and immersing yourself in the culture and beliefs that these monuments represent?
If you have been looking to embark on a journey that has more of a spiritual meaning, then look no further than this article. The following 20 sites are beloved places of worship across a wide range of beliefs. It is incredible to consider the devotion and architectural prowess to bring these buildings into existence, particularly the sites that were constructed hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
There are more we could have added, the list goes on and on, but we stopped at 20. If you believe another should have been added to the list, feel free to let us know in the comments.
20 Sacred Places You Have To Visit
The Golden Temple of Amritsar – India
The Golden Temple is more formally known as Harmandir Sahib, or Darbar Sahib, and is located in the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab. It is a place of great beauty and Tranquility. The site started out as just a small lake in the midst of a quiet forest, but has since become a meditation retreat for travellers and spiritualists alike. The Buddha is known to have spent time at this place in contemplation.
Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel – France
The Chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe is a pilgrimage chapel that sits on top of a rocky point of volcanic formation, that juts dramatically into the sky. Located near Le Puy-en-Velay in France, the chapel was built in 962, however the rock itself has been a sacred place for thousands of years. Starting off as a prehistoric dolmen, the Romans then dedicated it to Mercury before the Christians built a chapel, dedicated to St. Michael.
Meiji Shrine – Japan
The Meiji Shrine was built and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, the first emperor of Japan, and the Empress Shoken in 1920, eight years after the passing of the emperor and six years after the passing of the empress. The shrine was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt shortly afterwards.
Shwedagon Pagoda – Myanmar
“The crown of Burma.” is 2,600 years old, making Shwedagon the oldest pagoda in the world. The main gold-plated dome is topped by a stupa containing over 7,000 diamonds, rubies, topaz and sapphires, the whole construction is finished by a massive emerald positioned to reflect the last rays of the setting sun.
Abu Simbel Temples – Egypt
Abu Simbel is a temple complex that was cut into a solid rock cliff, located at the second cataract of the Nile River in southern Egypt. The two temples include The Great Temple and The Small Temple and were created during the reign of Ramesses II between 1264 – 1244 BCE or 1244-1224 BCE.
Ghats of Varanasi – India
There are nearly 100 ghats in Varanasi city, with the most famous and oldest ghats being the Dashashwamegha, Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 87 ghats, most being for bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while a few are used exclusively as cremation sites.
Hagia Sophia – Turkey
Hagia Sophia is a former Christian patriarchal basilica, which was later an imperial mosque, and is now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Constructed in 537AD, this Hagia Sophia has served many purposes but is still, if not more so, as breath taking as ever. The church has been richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries, depicting the Virgin Mother, Jesus, saints, or emperors and empresses. Other parts are decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns.
Batu Caves – Malaysia
The Batu Caves are situated just North of Kuala Lumpur and are the sacred place pf Hindu’s in Malaysia. These limestone caves consist of 3 larger sized chambers and numerous smaller ones and when you visit you’ll be greeted by loads of monkeys waiting to be fed! Located at the foot of the caves is Lord Murugan, the tallest statue of a Hindu deity in Malaysia, and the second highest statue of a Hindu deity in the world.
Basilica of San Vitale – Italy
The “Basilica of San Vitale” is a church in Ravenna, Italy, and one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. It dates to the mid-6th century and contains some of the most spectacular Byzantine mosaics in the western world.
Spanish Synagogue – Czech Republic
The Spanish Synagogue is a Moorish Revival synagogue built in Prague from the design of Vojtěch Ignátz Ullmann, in 1868. This synagogue is renowned for its stunning interior. Every surface is covered by elaborate Islamic-style polychrome and gilded patterns, some painted and some carved or molded. Currently the building is used as a museum and concert hall.
Boudhanath – Nepal
This Bauddha stupa was built just after the demise of Lord Buddha and is largest single Chhorten in the world. A huge amount of gold was used in the decoration of this holy building. The April 2015 Nepal earthquake badly damaged Boudhanath Stupa, severely cracking the spire. As a result, the whole structure above the dome, and the religious relics it contained, had to be removed, which was completed by the end of October 2015. The reconstruction began on 3 November 2015 with the ritual placement of a new central pole or “life tree” for the stupa at the top of the dome.
“It is believed that even if a person who has commited great sins circles around the stupa even once shall be granted one chance to atone for their sins.”
Lotus Temple – India
The Lotus Temple is a flowerlike, Bahá’í House of Worship, located in New Delhi, India. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the mother temple for the entire Indian subcontinent. Like all other Bahá’í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to people of all religions as emphasized in Bahá’í texts. The Bahá’í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship is a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions.
Angkor Wat – Cambodia
Angkor Wat is a temple complex located in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world, measuring 1,626,000 sq meters. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology.
Church of St. George (Bet Giyorgis) – Ethiopia
The Church of St. George is one of eleven monolithic churches in Lalibela, a city in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. It is among the best known and last built of the eleven churches in the Lalibela area, and has been referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”
Meteora – Greece
The Metéora is one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. Situated in almost impossible to reach peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. The rock monasteries have been characterized by UNESCO as a unique phenomenon of cultural heritage and they form one of the most important stations of cultural map of Greece.
Tiger’s Nest – Bhutan
Paro Taktsang is the common name of Taktsang Palphug Monastery, a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley, in Bhutan. According to the legend related to this Taktsang, which translates to “Tiger’s lair”, Padmasambhava flew here from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong. This place was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon.
Borobudur – Indonesia
The Borobudur is Indonesia’s signature Buddhist monument and is built from two million stone blocks in the form of a massive symmetrical stupa – wrapping itself around a small hill. The monument was conceived as a Buddhist vision of the cosmos in stone, starting in the everyday world and spiralling up to nirvana, or enlightenment.
Tiger Cave Temple – Thailand
Tiger Cave Temple, or Wat Thuam Sua, is located just outside of Krabi town, Thailand. Inside the cave, there are what appear to be tiger paw prints in the stone. Tiger Cave Temple teaches teaches a form of Buddhism called Vipassana (insight meditation), which is based on the teachings of the earliest Buddhist texts. One of the main attractions in the temple complex is the 1,272 step climb up a limestone tower to see the “footprint of the Buddha”.
Potala Palace – Tibet
The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region was the Winter residence of the 7th Dalai Lama onwards, until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The Potala Palace has stood for centuries as a testament to the Tibetan people and their beliefs. Thousands of pilgrims from around the world come every year to pay homage to this grand estate and the symbol it stands for.
Mahabodhi Temple – India
The Mahabodhi Vihar is a Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, that marks the location where the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment.