Are you fascinated by spirituality or just curious? Sacred sites appeal to travelers from all over the world. For centuries, various religious systems have constructed structures to honor higher powers and these architectural masterpieces of worship will have you in awe. Here are 5 sacred sites from around the world that serve as powerful reminders of the faith and devotion of humankind.
Las Lajas Sanctuary, Nariño, Colombia
This incredible cathedral at Las Lajas Sanctuary was completed in 1949 and legend has it that in the 18th-century, an Amerindian woman and her mute and deaf daughter took shelter from a storm in the gorge where the cathedral now sits. The Virgin Mary appeared to them and the daughter was miraculously able to hear and speak for the first time. News quickly spread and Las Lajas became a place of pilgrimage. The cathedral sits over a forested gorge on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.
Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, houses one of the largest mosques in the world. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is so enormous that it can hold 40,000 worshipers in one sitting. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati and drew inspiration from parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt; with this captures the unique collaboration between Islam and other world cultures.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has an open-door policy and welcomes tourists and believers from all around the world. Marvel at the remarkable onion-top domes, gorgeous pools and the awe-inspiring sunlight prayer hall as you walk through this modern piece of architecture.
Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is still a popular pilgrimage site for Coptic Christians. Near the small town of Lalibela, there are eleven medieval churches—all carved out of massive slabs of rock. The most fascinating of the ancient churches is the House of St. George, or Biete Ghiorgis, famed for its cross-shaped design and network of trenches and ceremonial passages which connect it to the other churches.
The churches were built in the 12th-century under the direction of King Lalibela. He had a vision of a "New Jerusalem" for Christians who were prevented from making the pilgrimage to the Holy Land because of Muslim conquests across the region.
Batu Caves, Malaysia
Want to visit the most popular Hindu shrine outside of India? Then head to the Batu Caves in the Gombak District 8 miles north of Kuala Lumpur. The caves are believed to be 400 million years old and were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people.
The shrine is is mostly visited during the Thaipusam festival and is dedicated to Lord Murugan. During the festival, devotees carry colorful kavadis (a pole to carry items, decorated with strings of bells, flowers and peacock feathers) and perform dances for the Lord Murugan. The unbelievable statue at the Batu Caves took 15 expert sculptors three years to build and was unveiled in January 2006. The statue is the tallest in Malaysia and the second-tallest Hindu deity in the world.
Tiger's Nest, Bhutan
Paro Taktsang, aka the “Tiger’s Nest,” is one of the world's most famous hanging temple and said to be the holiest site in all of Bhutan. This site is where the Tibetan Buddhist deity Guru Rinpoche appeared in the 8th-century riding on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a local demon and convert the locals to Buddhism.
Getting to this site is not an easy task. You will have to hike up the mountainside for three hours, but the trip is worth it. Once there, you will receive unbelievable views of the Paro Valley.
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