Travelling always makes me feel spiritual. When I want to explore the history of spiritual practice, I can think of many sacred places across the globe that can appeal to every kind of visitor. From incredible architecture and inspiring histories to destinations of unique majesty, here are five sacred places to explore:
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Covering some 400 acres, Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious structure. Built as the ancient capital city of the Khmer Empire, this incredible location is a must-see when visiting Cambodia.
Angkor Wat is a sprawling complex of intricately carved Hindu temples, pagodas, baths, and libraries. The structures are a beautiful yet crumbling monument of what remains of this once thriving city.
If you can make it to sunset, you will see Angkor Wat in all its natural glory. Your ticket is valid for 24 hours so you can always head back to your hotel for lunch and return!
At the temple of Phnom Bakheng set your eyes on 108 surrounding towers. This number is sacred in both Hindu and Buddhist religions and makes for a magnificent architectural display.
Siem Reap has plenty of restaurants to try after a day of exploring, or in between visits. Malis Restaurant serves up sumptuous Khmer cuisine, in a riverside setting. The popular Blue Pumpkin restaurant has set up a small branch outside the entrance to Angkor Wat and is best for brunch and lunch dishes with a French twist.
Stay at Jaya House River Park, Cambodia’s first plastic-free hotel, set on a peaceful stretch of riverfront. For more classic luxury, book a room at Raffles, and enjoy state-of-the-art facilities in this landmark hotel.
Delphi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, not to mention its unique and aged beauty. Perched on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the surrounding landscape is a reminder of the historical significance of this place. Here, the mountain views and valley of olive groves below are just as splendid as the site itself.
Home to the world-famous oracle of Delphi, it is a popular pilgrimage location, where pilgrims would come from all over the Mediterranean to receive prophecies from the Greek God, Apollo.
Incredibly, Delphi is also known as the navel of the Earth, the planet’s exact centre point. Standing here in this ancient place, you really are in the heart of the Earth.
For those seeking further exploration, head to the Archeological Museum next to the site, where you’ll find the famous Sphinx of Navos and Charioteer of Delphi.
Enjoy lunch alongside panoramic views at Taverna To Patriko Mas, and try a bottle from the all-Greek wine list. Taverna Vakhos is Delphi’s best dinner restaurant where excellent Greek dishes are served alongside a fabulous atmosphere.
Book a room at the Arion Comfort where cosy comfort meets modern luxury, and a hot cooked breakfast each morning makes it a perfect choice. The Amalia Hotel is best for its fabulous location, and relaxing swimming pool.
Jerusalem Sacred Places
Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest cities and one of massive spiritual significance to three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jerusalem is home to some incredible sacred monuments including the famous Western Wall. The wall is the remaining preserve of the Second Temple, destroyed in 70 CE, and is regarded as the most important place to gather and pray. Sacred places
Aside from its spiritual significance, The Western Wall is an enlightening and beautiful place. Visitors can observe the ceremony of prayer and contemplation at this incredible piece of ancient architecture.
Visit The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the world’s major pilgrimage destinations, and breathing in the thick scent of incense as you wander the basilica.
Each sacred location is best explored with a guided walking tour, and visitors are reminded to dress modestly in respect for these places.
Jerusalem is a fantastic foodie destination, with plenty of dining options to try. Enjoy a seasonally changing market-to-table menu at Machneyuda. The restaurant’s three Israeli chefs serve up fantastic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes with plenty of spirit. Adom is best for French and Italian cuisine, and an unbeatable wine list.
Book a room at the King David Hotel, a luxurious retreat overlooking the Old City. With opulent interiors and a fine dining restaurant, it’s a perfect place to spend your trip.
Pyramids of Teotihuacán, Mexico City
Many visitors may not know that Mexico City is built on top of the ruins that once formed part of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec Empire’s main city. Mexico is one of the most incredible places in the world to see sacred Aztec ruins and monuments.
Located just outside of central Mexico City, the Pyramids of Teotihuacán, are the most famous of Mexico’s Aztec ruins, and all that remains of the ancient city. The archaeological site is home to two towering and iconic pyramids: the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the Sun.
Look out across from the Sun to the Moon and feel the cosmic energy of these impressive constructions.
After exploring both Pyramids, walk to the Palace of Quetzalpapálotl and see the intricate carvings inside the inner courtyard.
With Mexico City just nearby, head back into the centre to fill your stomach after a long day of walking. Indulge at El Huequito where moreish tacos el pastor feature Mexican and Middle Eastern fusion. For something special, enjoy dinner at La Hacienda de Los Morales, where cool décor meets an incredible food and wine menu.
Stay at the Condesa DF, Mexico City’s coolest boutique hotel. Sip cocktails at the rooftop bar and enjoy some of the best sushi in town here, as well as fabulous rooms and suites. For something more laid back, book a room at the Chaya Bed & Breakfast Boutique, and relax in a hammock on the pretty terrace as the sun sets on your day.
Temples of Abu Simbel, Egypt
The Temples of Abu Simbel, which include the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor are some of the most spectacular monuments in Egypt. Overlooking Lake Nasser, these architectural wonders, remarkably carved out of the mountain are a sight to behold.
Visit on the 22nd of February or 22nd of October and experience the exquisite beauty of the morning’s sun moving across the hypostyle hall, through the vestibule and into the sanctuary. The sun’s rays illuminate the figures of Ra-Horakhty, Ramses II and Amun.
Abu Simbel is best visited on a day trip from Aswan on a 45-minute flight. Enjoy a casual dinner at the Nubian Beach. This café-restaurant is set on a quiet bank of the Nile and serves simple yet delicious Egyptian dishes. For a more high-end affair, dine at the Panorama Restaurant & Bar and enjoy 360-degree views of Aswan, alongside a North African influenced menu.
The Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan offers lavishly decorated rooms, panoramic views of the Nile and four restaurants and bars. It’s a premium choice for that extra touch to your trip.
Exploring any of these destinations is sure to offer a spiritual experience; with such beauty, history, and majesty, it is hard to ignore. Wherever you decide to go, go with an open heart, ready to be filled.