Traveling isn’t just for leisure. In fact millions of people around the world travel thousands and thousands of miles to visit spiritual sites in search for a deeper purpose — a spiritual purpose. Here are some of the world’s most popular Christian and Jewish pilgrimage sites that draw massive crowds year in and year out.
The Holy Land in Jerusalem is the cradle of Christianity and Judaism. This is where scholars and the faithful believe some of the most pivotal and important portions of the Bible took place, and to be able to step foot in here is a lifelong dream for millions of devotees. In here are famous spiritual sites like the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion, and the Pool of Bethesda.
Many of the events in the Gospels took place in the Mount of Olives. Here you can visit the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent his final hours praying just hours before his arrest and eventual crucifixion, and nearby the Basilica of Agony. For Marian devotees, the remains of Mama Mary are believed to be resting in the Mount of Olives at the Tomb of Mary. And finally, the Chapel of Ascension is can also be found in this holy hill — the place where Jesus was believed to have ascended from Heaven to give the Apostles the gift of tongues.
Mount Zion is another stopover for the faithful as they pay their respects and say their prayers in some of its holy places like the room where Jesus is believed to have shared the Last Supper with his Apostles on the night he was betrayed by Judas. In Zion also will be found David’s Tomb, where the remains of King David of Old Testament fame lies. Not to be missed also are the picturesque Dormition Abbey and the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu.
Devotees are also drawn to the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed an infirm on the Sabbath. This is the place where people go to pray for healing for oneself or a loved one.
The Mount of Temptation is also worth the stop in the Holy Land. This is believed to be the place where Jesus was tempted by the devil throughout the course of his 40-day fast after being baptized by St. John the Baptist.
On top of being picturesque, the small fishing village of Capernaum remains a popular stop for the faithful to relive Jesus’ life in ministry. It is said in the Bible that Capernaum is the site where Jesus performed most of his miracles like the Miraculous Catching of the Fish, the Sermon on the Mount, multiple healings of the sick, exorcisms, and raising of the dead.
Via Dolorosa, or the Way of Sorrows, is easily the high point in anyone’s visit to the Holy Land. This is where Jesus himself walked with the Cross on his shoulders on the way to his crucifixion. Here you will find 8 of the 14 Stations of the Cross. During Holy Week, thousands of devotees bring wooden crosses with them to commemorate Jesus’ suffering.
Finally, one of the holiest sites found in the Holy Land, Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Erected in the 4th century to enclose two the holiest sites in all of Christianity: Jesus’ place of crucifixion (Calvary) as well as his burial and resurrection site, enclosed in a shrine called the Aedicule.
Mount Sinai in Egypt is believed by scholars to be the site where God gave Moses the slabs that contained the Ten Commandments on his way to the promised land. On the foot of Mount Sinai is St. Catherine’s Monastery, a UNESCO site, and one of the Christian church’s longest standing and operating monasteries in the world.
The beautiful Basilica of our Lady of Pilar in Zaragoza, Spain. On this site is where the Virgin Mary appeared to the Apostle James. The beautiful basilica looks over the Ebro River, and is one of the most astonishing Marian pilgrimage sites in the world.
The Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France, stands today as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for the Virgin Mary. The church was built to commemorate the 17 apparitions of Mary in 1858.
Finally, this is the House of Mary in Ephesus, Turkey. This is believe to be where the Virgin Mary was taken by St. John and lived until her eventual Assumption.