STUN­NING SA­CRED PLACES

Dis­cover the magic that draws devo­tees

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - WISHLIST WORSHIP WONDERS - PAUL EWART

1 KASHI VISH­WANATH TEM­PLE, VARANASI, IN­DIA

Po­si­tioned on the banks of the holy River Ganga, in the holy city of Varanasi, Kashi Vish­wanath Tem­ple is dou­bly holy and, as such, is lit­er­ally the most sa­cred place for Hin­dus.

Ded­i­cated to Lord Shiva, ev­ery Hindu is sup­posed to visit the site at least once, so un­sur­pris­ingly it re­ceives up­wards of 21 mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally from all over the world.

Up there with the world’s great pil­grim­age des­ti­na­tions, the gold­en­domed tem­ple sees devo­tees pray be­fore bathing in the sa­cred river along­side, in an at­tempt to cleanse their souls and thus re­duce the need to be rein­car­nated.

SHRIKASHIVISHWANATH.ORG

2 WESTERN WALL AND CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPUL­CHRE, JERUSALEM, IS­RAEL

Sa­cred to Chris­tians, Mus­lims and Jewish peo­ple, Jerusalem has en­ticed devo­tees from the three faiths for cen­turies. Ac­cord­ing to the Old Tes­ta­ment, King David cre­ated the city as the cap­i­tal of the King­dom of Is­rael, and his son, King Solomon, com­mis­sioned its first tem­ple. In the New Tes­ta­ment, the city was the scene for the Last Sup­per, and the cru­ci­fix­ion and res­ur­rec­tion of Je­sus. While in the Qu­ran, it’s here that Muham­mad is said to have as­cended to heaven and spo­ken with God.

Two of the city’s most im­por­tant places of pil­grim­age are the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepul­chre. The lat­ter is said to be built on the site of Christ’s cru­ci­fix­ion and burial, while the for­mer, the holi­est of Jewish sites, is the last re­main­ing part of a tem­ple built by King Herod.

GOISRAEL.COM

3 BLUE MOSQUE, IS­TAN­BUL, TUR­KEY

Dom­i­nat­ing Is­tan­bul’s main square, the Sul­tanah­met Mosque, bet­ter known as the Blue Mosque, is a place of won­der for Mus­lims and tourists alike. Mul­ti­ple domes marry with six unique minarets along­side end­less rows of in­tri­cately pat­terned blue and white ce­ramic tiles, and hun­dreds of stained glass win­dows, mak­ing it a pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream.

At­tract­ing five mil­lion vis­i­tors each year, the early 17th-century struc­ture still serves as a place of wor­ship and is closed dur­ing the daily prayers.

KUL­TUR.GOV.TR

4 VAT­I­CAN CITY, ROME, ITALY

The sprawl­ing cen­tre of the Ro­man Catholic Church, Vat­i­can City is both one of the world’s largest sa­cred sites, and the holi­est of Catholic sa­cred places.

An in­de­pen­dent state since 1929, it has been the home of the Pope since 1378. In­deed, the on-site St Peter’s Basil­ica houses the tomb of the first Pope, the apos­tle Saint Peter, who was cru­ci­fied and buried there.

Dec­o­rated with works by the likes of Raphael and Michelan­gelo, the art­work in the Basil­ica is rea­son enough to visit. Other famed struc­tures within the com­plex in­clude the Vat­i­can Gar­dens and Vat­i­can Mu­se­ums, and the Sis­tine Chapel.

VATICANSTATE.VA

5 LOUR­DES, PYRE­NEES, FRANCE

A small mar­ket town in the MidiPyre­nees re­gion of south­west­ern France, Lour­des first gained fame in 1858 when the Vir­gin Mary re­port­edly ap­peared 18 times to a lo­cal 14-yearold girl in a cav­ern. Mirac­u­lous cures have been as­so­ci­ated with the place ever since and now Lour­des has be­come the largest Catholic pil­grim­age des­ti­na­tion in France, and one of the most pop­u­lar Catholic shrines in the world.

SE­DONA

CHURCH OF HOLY SEPUL­CHRE

GOLDEN TEM­PLE

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