Whether you are planning a pilgrimage
for personal reasons, or simply have a thirst for knowledge, visiting
areas of religious significance can be an incredibly enriching
experience. Religious tourism is one of the oldest forms of
travelling, with places all over the world dedicated to preserving
religious history and accommodating pilgrims. From Jerusalem to Mecca
to Lourdes to the Vatican City, there are sites of all religions and
denominations to see.
Israel The original home to the three
Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam – Israel is
steeped in religious significance, painstakingly preserved by locals
and religious groups. Tours
of Israel
, encompassing visits to Tel Aviv, the Dead
Sea, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem with their religious and cultural
sites, are an absolute must for the faithful and adventurous.   Italy The home
of Catholicism,
Christianity remains deeply ingrained
in Italian culture, providing interesting contrasts with its ancient
Roman history. The Vatican City in Rome boasts the fantastic Sistine
Chapel, with Catholic mass services conducted daily in a variety of
languages. Beautiful Loreto is a famed pilgrimage spot, as the home
of Basilica de Santa Casa, having brought visitors for centuries.
India Fraught with conflicts resulting from
English colonialism, contemporary India as a country is rich with its
own religious histories of Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism, though many
minority religions remain active. New
alone has the Jama Masjid, a famed pilgrimage
spot for Muslims with a preserved deerskin Qu’aran, in addition to
the famed Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, a Sikh place of worship open to all
religions. It is also home to Swaminarayan Akshardham, the world’s
largest Hindu temple complex, which also showcases the religion’s
history and art.   Southeast AsiaCambodia,
Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and the Indonesian islands remain home to a
strong Buddhist history, with many
and active temples
. More rural areas, such as Myanmar
(previously known as Burma) have several active monasteries, with the
majority of the population being practising Buddhists – they are
largely welcoming of the pilgrims and tourists who flock to see the
many shrines.   Mecca and MedinaMecca
is the holiest site in Islam, as the birthplace of the prophet
Mohammed, and is the spiritual centre of the religion. Strictly
off-limits to non-Muslims, the pillars of Islam state that those
practicing must make the Hajj pilgrimage once in their lifetime in
order to visit the Grand Mosque, a spectacular structure dating from