What does it mean to be sacred? If we turn to the wisdom of a dictionary for guidance, we can learn that sacred is an adjective used to connect the ordinary to the extraordinary. Anything can be sacred, land, buildings, or even symbols. What's important is that whatever the sacred object is, it connects people to God or the gods and is special in that it is reserved for religious purposes and, by its very nature, must be treated with a certain amount of awe and reverence. With that definition in mind, where are the most sacred places on earth? Grab your map, hat, and whip (we're doing this Indiana Jones style). In today's article, we're searching for the 9 Most Sacred Sites from Around the Globe!
Mount Sinai is an important site for three of the world's largest religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. On this mountain, it is believed by devout followers that Moses received the 10 Commandments from God. There is some debate over whether the biblical Mount Sinai is the same mountain located in Egypt today. However, it is generally accepted to be referring to the same location, and there is an ancient monastery at the foot of the mountain that is still active today. The monastery and mountain are important tourist destinations, with at least 1,000 visitors daily.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is arguably one of the most sacred Hindu temples on the planet. Perched on the banks of the Ganges River, this spectacular place of worship is dedicated to Shiva, who believers worship as the supreme god. However, this impressive temple was not built quickly. Indeed, it was slowly and expertly crafted over several hundred years. The leaders of the Hindu faith teach that visiting the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and bathing in the healing properties of the Ganges water is critical to the Hindu's spiritual journey. As such, many Hindus from all over the world pilgrimage to this sacred site at least once in their lifetime.
The Wailing Wall is located in Jerusalem and is possibly the most sacred site on earth for devoted followers of Judaism. It is sometimes referred to as the West Wall and is all that remains of the ancient Jewish temple that dominated everyday Jewish life some 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the Roman Empire destroyed the temple in the early first century. It is called the Wailing Wall because those who practice Judaism often cry at the wall. Losing the temple was a huge blow to the Jews, and its loss is felt even to this day. This holy place gets millions of visitors a year, and a common practice of pilgrims who visit this site is to write a prayer on a piece of paper and wedge it into the cracks of the wall.
Ise Grand Shrine
The twin temples of Ise Grand and Toyouke are located in Japan and are guarded by the sacred forest of Mie Prefecture. These two temples are arguably the most important Shinto shrine in Japan. Followers of Shintoism worship the Sun goddess at the Ise Grand shrine and the goddess of food in the second shrine, Toyouk. These ancient places of worship were first built in the 7th century A.D. however, both shines were based on temples that were first erected in 4 B.C. Followers of Shintoism consider going to the temples an act of pilgrimage. They bathe themselves in the waters of Isuzugawa before they start their journey. Typically visitors offer prayers in the shrines.
For followers of Islam, no site on earth is more sacred than that Mecca. This ancient city built on a small mountain near the Red Sea is so holy that only Muslims are allowed entry into this Saudi Arabian city. It is believed that Mohamed, the founder of Islam, was born in Mecca. The city of Mecca is so sacred that all devoted followers of Islam all over the world turn to face Mecca five times a day in prayer. Indeed, every abled body Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime.
Church Of The Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is said to be built in the same location where Jesus, the founder of Christianity, was crucified In the early to mid-first century A.D. The Church was first built in 336 A.D. but was destroyed by the Persian Empire about three hundred years later. It was once again rebuilt in the early 600 A.D. It then served as a sacred site for over 400 years until it was again destroyed in 1009 A.D. The current Church that is present to this day was last rebuilt in 1810 A.D. While not proven, the Church has been recognized as the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus since the 4th century A.D. and serves as a sacred site for many Christians around the world.
Dome Of The Rock
The Dome of the Rock is an ancient sacred shrine to those who follow Islam and is located in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is the oldest Muslim monument and was built in the 7th century A.D. The structure is built on top of the ruins of the Jewish temple. Those who follow Islam believe that it is where the great prophet, Mohammed, was transported to Heaven to speak with God.
The Tiger's Nest/Paro Taktsang
The Tiger's Nest is a sacred Buddhist monastery. It is built 1000 feet above a small village in the Paro Valley. Devoted followers believe this holy place to be where The Buddha meditated in a cave for over three years! The monastery is built on top of that cave. It precariously clings to the mountainside and guards the sacred cave. Built in the late 16th century A.D, this sacred Buddhist shrine is a marvel to see. More than 200,000 people make a pilgrimage to the Tiger's Nest every year to pay their respects.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric sacred site, and archaeologists and historians debate its purpose. Indeed, theories abound regarding these stone erections. Some argue that it is a portal to other dimensions, was used to communicate with aliens, or, perhaps more realistically, the ancient site served as a burial ground. Whatever the function, it is obvious that it is sacred. Archaeologist estimate that it was built over 5,000 years ago and likely took 1,500 years to complete.
It would seem humans love to be surrounded by the extraordinary. We have a natural propensity to believe that the ground we are standing on is holy, whether that be at Church, in the wilderness, or in the ruins of an ancient shrine. Indeed, the human heart longs to be a part of the supernatural, even if it is only a worshiper.