“Strangely, an ancient ruin warms you while you feel cold looking at a modern building! Why? Because the past had a soul, it had an idealism; it had an aesthetics and a grace!”
There are many different kinds of spiritual experiences, from religious and intellectual ones to ones centered on art and nature. These experiences frequently emerge from travel—sometimes accidentally, sometimes as a result of journeys to holy places during pilgrimages, sabbaticals, or even on our own—all at times when we most need a wake-up call.
The Church of the Christ in Bethlehem
The cave where Jesus was born is an important part of the frequently retold story of his birth all over the world. Visitors can now visit that very grotto in Bethlehem, which is situated on the West Bank beneath the oldest basilica in the Holy Land. The spot where Jesus is said to have been born is supposed to be marked by a silver star on the ground. Even though this location is Bethlehem’s most popular tourist destination throughout the year, Christmastime brings even bigger celebrations, such as crowds of carolers and midnight services. Additionally, it is one of Palestine’s first World Heritage sites.
Jerusalem’s Western Wall
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is Israel’s holiest location, and the country is recognized as the Holy Land by Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Due to its proximity to the Temple Mount, where it is believed that God created man, the limestone building has served as a place of worship since the 11th century. Visitors frequently put slips of paper with their prayers, hopes, and wishes written on them into the cracks in the walls. The memoranda are gathered annually and then interred in a Jewish cemetery on the neighboring Mount of Olives.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This well-known temple in Cambodia from the twelfth century is based on the mythical Mount Meru, where Hindus think the ancestors of the gods reside. Angkor Wat stands more than 700 feet tall at its highest point. The complex’s walls are adorned with carvings, featuring more than 3,000 asparas (nymphs) and several other legendary characters and events. The temple has ties to both Buddhism and Hinduism.
More than 70 temples and around 1,000 buildings make up the Angkor Complex, offering travelers a wealth of things to discover. While there are innumerable statues of the Buddha and artworks and carvings that relate to Buddhist tales, many Hindu statues and artworks have also survived out of respect.
It is a hugely popular tourist destination; in 2018, fewer than 3 million people visited, which was a third of all visitors to Cambodia. For tickets, tourists start lining up as early as 4:30 a.m., so arrive early or plan to wait.
Hegra, Saudi Arabia
The Nabateans established their renowned capital, Petra, more than 500 kilometers to the northwest in what is now Jordan. Hegra was their second city. The ancient stone city, which is situated in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla region and is also known as Mada’in Salih and Al-Hijr to Muslims, has historical origins dating back to the first century BCE. More than 100 well-preserved tombs with intricate facades cut into the sandstone outcrops make up this site, which is also the first Unesco World Heritage Site in the nation.
Like at Petra, “they are the burial places for kings, queens, and noble people.” said Rainier.”The entire region was connected to an old caravan route. Arab commerce ships would dock on the Saudi Arabian peninsula’s extreme east, followed by a camel caravan that would travel through this region on its way to Petra and the Holy Land. They would have been extremely well off.”
One of the most fascinating sites in India is Varanasi because of the city’s vibrant sights and fragrances. The holiest of Hinduism’s seven sacred towns, located on the banks of the Ganges and dating back to 1,000 BC, is where devotees think that passing away will free them from the cycle of reincarnation and death.
Particularly, it is thought to be the city where Shiva, the god of devastation, formerly resided.
The place where one goes to die is Varanasi. According to Hindu belief, dying in Varanasi puts an end to the cycle of reincarnation into which every person is born.
Explore our picks if you’re considering a future trip or just want to admire the magnificence of these holy places from a distance because they hold the secrets of humanity and life.