When it comes to travel, people choose destinations for a number of reasons. For example, some make fitness and exercise a focus of their vacation while others want a more tranquil and relaxing destination. Others prefer to travel solo in order to reflect and invest in self-knowledge. In all cases, travel is important for many reasons including its ability to be transformative. (Read more about the importance of travel as an enriching experience in this Project Bold Life story!) Understanding this, it’s also not uncommon for many to choose some of the more sacred places in the world for their travel. Such places can be highly transformative and offer experiences that create lasting impressions. If this type of travel is appealing to you, then you certainly have plenty of destinations from which to choose. With this in mind, the following are 10 of the most important holy places and religious sites you might consider.
- Lumbini – Rupandeh, Nepal
One of the well-known important holy places and religious sites is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha. The garden of Lumbini is thus considered one of the more sacred places in the world. A stone slab in the Maya Devi Temple marks the actual birthplace. Likewise, you can visit the Pusharni, which is a pool where Buddha was bathed. This travel destination has been an attraction for religious pilgrimage since 249 B.C. for transformative travel.
- The Dome of the Rock – Jerusalem
This is another one of the significant sacred places in the world located in Jerusalem. But rather than being considered holy by Jewish faithful, the Dome of the Rock is an Islamic site. It now is a Muslim shrine because this is the place from which Muhammed ascended into heaven. It now contains the Noble Sanctuary and the Temple Mount. Interestingly, Judaism believes this to be the place where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Notably, you can see why it is listed among the most important holy places and religious sites for travel.
- Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England
Located in Southern England, Stonehenge dates back more than 5,000 years ago. This naturally makes it one of the more sacred places in the world. The prehistoric, unusual constellation of upright rocks is believed to hold some spiritual significance. As such, it receives over 800,000 visitors annually seeking transformative travel. Though likely associated with paganism, the stones align perfectly with the summer solstice sunrise. If nothing else, the site is something intriguing to behold.
- Vatican City – Rome, Italy
Located within the city of Rome, Vatican City has been recognized as its own independent state since 1929. But for centuries before this, it has been a noted as one of the world’s important holy places and religious sites. The Pope, who heads the Catholic Church, has lived within Vatican City since 1378. Likewise, Vatican City contains many incredible sights including the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, and the Vatican Museum. It also boasts St. Peter’s Basilica, where St. Peter himself is buried. It too is recognized as one of the most sacred places in the world.
- Mecca – Makkah, Saudi Arabia
It’s no secret that Mecca is one of the most important holy places and religious sites in the world. Pilgrimage to this destination, which is the birthplace of Muhammed, is one of the Islam’s 5 pillars. Mecca is also the place where Muhammed had his first revelations that led to his writings of the Qur’an. Thus, millions travel here, and to the Grand Mosque, to praise Allah and honor Muhammed. Notably, however, non-Muslims are not allowed in Mecca. But regardless, it remains one of the most sacred places in the world for Muslim believers.
- Lourdes – Southwest France
This small town in southwest France receives over five million visitors a year seeking transformative and regenerative travel. A young girl named Bernadette had visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858. Ever since, it has been known as one of the most important holy places and religious sites among Catholics. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes has over 22 places of worship. Lourdes also has a sacred grotto, two basilicas, and was home to St. Bernadette. Located within the Pyrenees Mountains, Lourdes is not only one of the more sacred places in the world but exquisite as well.
- Western Wall – Jerusalem
Also known as the “Wailing Wall,” this is among the most important holy places and religious sites for Judaism. It is a remnant of the supporting wall of the Temple, built by King Herod in 20 B.C. However, Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D., which is why so many Jewish believers lament at the wall. Transformative travelers have since been making a pilgrimage to the site since the 16th Century. For Jewish faithful, the Western Wall is held as one of the most sacred places in the world. As such, many travel to its open-air synagogue to pay respects.
- Machu Picchu – Peru
Many consider this as a highly spiritual and historical site rather than one of the more sacred places in the world. However, there is little doubt Machu Picchu was considered on of the important holy places and religious sites for the Incas. A UNESCO heritage site, Machu Picchu sits 6,750 feet above the Urubamba Valley. Despite its ancient origins, it was not discovered until 1911. It contains the astrologically-aligned Temple of the Sun as well as the Pincipal Temple and the Temple of Three Windows. For those seeking an aesthetic and spiritual experience, this is a highly recommended destination.
- Badrinath – Uttarakhand, India
Located deep in the Himalayans, Badrinath represents one of the most important holy places and religious sites for Hinduism. It is one of four destinations recognized as being important for Hindu believers. In essence, it is considered one of the most sacred places in the world, being a holy place for the god Vishnu. Likewise, sacred writings of the Mahabharata was believed to have been written here. This transformative travel destination also includes sacred hot springs and the Badrinath Temple, which dates back to the 9th Century.
- Wittenberg – Saxony, Germany
You may not think of Wittenberg as one of the most sacred places in the world. However, thousands travel here each year because they consider it the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther challenged Catholic practices from this site from St. Mary’s Church where he preached and married. Though destroyed, it was subsequently rebuilt in the 1800s. It now contains not only Luther’s tomb but also engravings of this 95 theses. For these reasons, it is also cited among the more important holy places and religious sites for transformative travel.
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