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All the major religions of the world have pilgrimage cities of special significance

Across the globe, major religions lay claim to cities of profound spiritual importance, some of which hold significance for multiple faiths. These holy cities not only bear religious importance but also beckon with their rich historical and cultural offerings, making them enticing prospects for exploration.

Jerusalem, a city revered by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, stands as a quintessential example. Within its ancient walls, each religion boasts important shrines, attracting pilgrims from diverse backgrounds.

Similarly, Bethlehem, located in the Palestinian Territories, holds undeniable appeal for Christian pilgrims. Its proximity to Jerusalem, just a short bus ride away, facilitates visits to the revered site.

pilgrimage cities

The Temple Mount – the golden Dome of the Rock mosque in the old city of Jerusalem, Israel.
Photo by Raimond Klavins

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Santiago de Compostela, situated in Spain, has been a cherished pilgrimage destination since the ninth century. Pilgrims from across Europe have undertaken arduous journeys to reach its hallowed grounds.

In the heart of Rome lies Vatican City, the epicentre of the Roman Catholic Church. Pilgrims flock here not only for a chance to glimpse the Pope but also to explore the numerous historic churches that adorn the city’s landscape. Rome’s allure transcends religious boundaries, making it a must-visit destination for travellers of all inclinations.

Lourdes, nestled at the foot of the Pyrenees in France, holds significance due to an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It ranks as the second most-visited Christian pilgrimage site after Rome, and the entire Pyrenees region offers its own natural beauty and charm.

Portugal’s Fatima, associated with the vision of Our Lady of Fatima, attracts pilgrims and non-religious travellers alike. The devotion displayed by pilgrims is undeniably inspiring.

Mont St. Michel, France’s picturesque island abbey, may no longer draw hordes of pilgrims, but its ethereal beauty continues to captivate all who lay eyes on it.

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, serves as the focal point for Muslims worldwide. Birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, it mandates the Hajj pilgrimage for all Muslims at least once in their lives.

Kyoto, Japan, with its abundance of Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines, entices travellers seeking spiritual and cultural enrichment. Its presence on numerous pilgrimage circuits underscores its significance.

Varanasi, also known as Benares, holds a sacred place in Hinduism as it straddles the banks of the revered Ganges River. Many pilgrims come to Varanasi not only to visit but also to attain moksha (liberation) through death, as per their beliefs.

Lhasa, the spiritual heart of Tibetan Buddhism, remains a pilgrimage destination despite the Dalai Lama’s residence in India. The Potala Palace and the Jokhang Monastery draw devoted pilgrims from near and far.

The world is replete with pilgrimage cities, too numerous to enumerate here. Perhaps it’s time to heed the call and explore one of these remarkable destinations.

| The Frugal Traveller

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