The world, and all the rich and diverse cultures within it, offer great feats of architecture, natural formations and displays of artistry that have become hubs for pilgrimage, spirituality, and tradition. It is no wonder that some of the most visited landmarks in the world are also the world’s most spiritual destinations.
Such spiritual destinations provide travelers, no matter how religious or otherwise, a particularly special experience, basking in nature’s beauty or human capabilities.
Here’s our list of the six most spiritual destinations in the world, and how best to experience them.
1. Cape Reinga, North Island, New Zealand
Cape Reinga is an established part of Maori mythology. It is believed to be the leaping place of spirits, departing life to join the afterlife. You can find the cape at the crap-tip of Northland, a picturesque stop for those exploring the North Island by car, including the rich and spiritual Maori culture. Stand at the blustery edge of the cape and look out to sea, watch the sunset and reflect on your trip and experiences so far.
2. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto has been a cultural hub in Japan for over a thousand years, a place once known as a “capital of peace and tranquillity.”
The 1,660 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines, and 90 Christian churches mean that this is an incredibly rich place to celebrate and fuel spirituality. Kyoto is perhaps best known for the iconic red gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine, built in the eighth century. This is a must-see for any tourist traveling Japan, and also a fantastic location to take a contemplating look over the city.
3. La Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain
Not only is La Mezquita one of the most spiritual destinations in the world, but it is also one of the most striking and historically-fascinating displays of architecture. The word ‘Mezquita’ itself means mosque, but this is not just a mosque. It is an accumulation of historical clashes of religion and architectural ideals.
After the eighth-century Islamic conquest of Iberia, the existing basilica of Cordoba was split between Christians and Muslims. Later in 784 AD, a new mosque was constructed, before a Catholic cathedral being fitted inside in the 16th century. A place filled with many hidden delights and curiosities, it’s a merging of spirituality ideologies that you don’t see every day.
4. Mount Kailash, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
This mountain is located in the west of Tibet, rising 6,714 meters high, and can be experienced on an organized 22-day trek.
The mountain is considered an incredibly sacred place for Buddhists, Hindus, Bons and Jains alike. It is the source of four great Asian rivers – the Indus River, Sutlej River, Brahmaputra and Ghaghara River. For many Asian cultures, Mount Kailash is a great source of power and creativity, representing the infinity of universal energy. Many choose to honor and bask in the mountain’s power by completing a 52-kilometer pilgrimage that circles the mountain, offering no end of stunning views along the way.
5. Avebury, Wiltshire, UK
Avebury is a charming village that sits amongst the ancient green countryside of Wiltshire. Although the village is a thoroughly pleasant place to visit, with its cozy pubs and unique local shops, it’s the other ancient oddities. The stone circles and mysterious mounds make Avebury such a spiritually fulfilling destination.
Avebury is the home of Europe’s largest Neolithic stone circle, along with Silbury Hill, a man-made mound created in prehistoric times. It’s the mystery surrounding these landmarks that makes them so popular amongst travelers today. No one really knows what the landmarks were built for, but they were believed to be used as a Neolithic ceremonial site for rituals and to connect with spirits.
6. Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka
Adam’s Peak is located within the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country, surrounded by dramatic mountainous landscapes, religious shrines and forests home to some of the most diverse and unique wildlife.
So, what is Adam’s Peak?
The landmark is more than just a geological peak. It is characterized by the large dent that can be seen in the rock. This dent is known as the “sacred footprint”, or Sri pada by locals. This ‘footprint’ is believed to be the mark of Buddha, Shiva, Adam or Saint Thomas – depending on your religion. The trails make a steep 2,244-kilometre climb up the mountain with plenty of beautiful shrines along the way to pay your respects at.
A heartfelt thanks to Clayton Miller for his collaboration in collecting this excellent information and compiling it into such an amazing post for us to enjoy.