27 spiritual travel experiences
Collected by Adriana Yampey , AFAR Local Expert
Centuries-old abbeys, churches, and cathedrals to see around the world.
50170 Mont Saint-Michel, France
It's safe to say there’s nothing in the world quite like this magical island, topped by a medieval monastery that rises out of the bay like a heavenly apparition. It’s said that, early in the 8th century, a bishop in nearby Avranches...
Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal
Few buildings in Lisbon command as much attention as this 16th-century masterpiece, which stretches across the Belém landscape like an endless exclamation point to Portugal’s Age of Discovery greatness. The UNESCO-listed monastery is...
20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK
William and Kate’s wedding brought a 21st-century focus to this 700-year-old abbey, which is built on the same spot as a Benedictine monastery enlarged by Edward the Confessor in the 1040s. The site of every coronation since 1066, it boasts...
Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Walk into Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) and look up to the heavens to see why so many conquerors and their respective religions claimed this basilica turned mosque turned museum as their own. Visitors will swoon over the Byzantine gilded mosaics,...
III. nádvoří 48/2, 119 01 Praha 1-Hradčany, Czechia
The Prague Castle complex, which sits on the top of the hill abovethe city, dominates the skyline, and housesmultiple palaces, churches, halls,and museums. The crown jewel of the complex is St. Vitus Cathedral. Construction of this Gothic and...
00120, Vatican City
Painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel ceiling are considered some of the finest art ever produced. These religious paintings include nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, of which The Creation of Adam is...
Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa, Portugal
In 1755, Lisbon was all but devoured by an earthquake so strong that it still ranks as one of the most destructive in recorded history. One of the few structures to survive somewhat intact was the Carmo Convent—an impressive feat,...
The Pends, St Andrews KY16 9QL, UK
Often called, "Scotland's Greatest Cathedral" the now-ruined medieval St. Andrews, overlooking the North Sea in its namesake town, is a splendid sight any time of day or night. However, in my several days of residence in the town made famous by...
6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
A devastating fire on April 15, 2019, has closed the interior of the cathedral to visitors. Plans to rebuild and reopen the structure are being made, but at present, visitors are not allowed near the site.
Fora first-time visitor to Notre Dame,...
Fora first-time visitor to Notre Dame,...
Calle de Bailén, 10, 28013 Madrid, Spain
After paying your patriotic fee of 10 Euro to enter the Royal Palace, you will notice the Almudena Cathedral beyond the courtyards gates. While I was too late in the day to be graced with the inner divinities of this structure I did in fact, get...
Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
Before reaching this incredible castle, you will be astounded by the beautiful pastures and lakes along the roadside. Lambs occasionally trot across allowing a great opportunity for photos. Upon reaching Kylemore, you will enter through a quaint...
Exo Gonia 847 00, Greece
Yes, Vegas would do the trick, but a 12 days hopping between the Greek islands of Santorini, Folegandros, and Sifnos will be a matrimonial send-off you’ll actually want to remember. Cannonball into clear coves reachable only by boat, and party...
Agiou Dimitriou, Thessaloniki 546 33, Greece
Hagios Demetrios is known as the largest church in all of Greece, and while this interior doesn't look as large as other European churches, the entire building and grounds are a true showing of historic periods coming and overlapping one another....
Orval 1, 6823 Florenville, Belgium
You cannot visit the current Orval Abbey but for a small fee you can visit the Orval Abbey ruins. By the 12th century, this Cistercian abbey isolated in the Gaume Forest had become one of the most famous and richest in Europe. After a film on...
Domkloster 4, 50667 Köln, Germany
One of the most famous sights in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral (known locally as the Kölner Dom) lives up to the hype. Its Gothic exterior, and especially its soaring twin spires, can be seen from all over the city, and its immense...
Place de l'Evêché 1, 7500 Tournai, Belgium
Tournai is the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Visit the amazing Notre Dame Cathedral, go up in the Belfry which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List or just have a coffee at a cafe in the square and watch the world go by. Looking...
Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux, France
Experience one of the best Cathedrals in Europe. We went to Bayeux to see the tapestry and discovered this amazing place and were blown away when we got inside. If you go to Normandy do not pass this town, the Bayeux tapestry, 70m of tapestry...
Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
The landmark cathedral in Cordoba, Spain is the Mosque of Córdoba. You might be amazed by the bell tower, the stone path, and the orange trees. However, the moment you stepped into the prayer hall, it will take your breath away.
Carrer de la Marina, 253, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
The art nouveau buildings of Antoni Gaudí, the 19th-century architect whose works are some of Barcelona’s most iconic sights, can be seen throughout Catalonia, but Barcelona has the best examples of his genius at work. Former...
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