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Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, France. Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, France.

Seven of the most sacred places in the world

Here are some of most important religious sites around the world, from ancient temples to natural wonders


The Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities on the planet. It's of massive spiritual significance to three of the world's biggest religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and has endured a war-torn history.

According to the Old Testament, King David captured Jerusalem and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, and his son King Solomon commissioned the first temple. The New Testament made the city the location of the crucifixion of Jesus, and according to the Quran Muhammad made his night journey to Jerusalem where he ascended to heaven and spoke to God.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Ganges River in Varanasi.

Set on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, Kashi Vishwanath is one of the most famous Hindu temples. One of twelve jyotirlinga shrines, it's dedicated to Shiva – the Hindu god of destruction – who is believed to have appeared here as a fiery column of light.

Hindus believe that a visit to the temple, and a bath in the Ganges river, can lead them towards moksha – which means freedom from the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth (called saṃsāra). So, Hindus try to make the pilgrimage here at least once in their lifetime.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

Basilica of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes, France.

Lourdes is a small market town in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-west France. It gained fame amongst Catholics in 1858 when the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared 18 times to a local 14-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubirous.

Since then Lourdes has become a popular place of pilgrimage for Catholics all over the world. More than 200 million people have visited since 1860, many of them hoping to be healed by spring water from the grotto.

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Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India.

The original temple of Mahabodhi in Bodh Gaya, Bihar was completed in the 7th century to commemorate the site of Prince Siddhartha Gautama's enlightenment and the moment he became the Buddha.

The Buddha was said to have gained enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi tree for seven weeks. A direct descendent of the original tree was planted in its place, which has been a major Buddhist pilgrimage site for over 2,000 years.


Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Mecca is widely considered the centre of the Islamic world. It's the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the religion he founded, and only Muslims are allowed to enter the city.

Positioned in the Sirat Mountains of Saudi Arabia and 45 miles inland from the coast, Mecca is an oasis in the sacred Hejaz region. The Kaaba is here, a cuboid building within Islam's most sacred mosque – Masjid al-Haram – which all Muslims are expected to face when praying.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Uluru, Australia.

Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, two huge rock formations in the Central Australian desert, are millions of years old and have been home to the local Anangu people for tens of thousands of years.

The Anangu people believe that the land was made by creation ancestors, who left behind marks in the earth and a spiritual law to guide their lives and the relationships between people, animals and the land.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Once again of great importance to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, Mount Sinai in Egypt is thought by many to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Saints, prophets, pilgrims and tourists have been travelling here for thousands of years.

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