Collected by Samantha Juda , AFAR Contributor
No matter what your religion is, these spiritual spots around the world showcase history and are sure to inspire.
3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA
The Washington National Cathedral stands high over D.C. as a beacon of faith for the nation. The impressive Gothic architecture evokes comparisons to Notre-Dame (despite being built more than half a millennium later). Flying buttresses, spires,...
Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
One of the best places to watch the sun set is from the cliffs of Pura Luhur Uluwatu, or the site of the old Uluwatu Temple on the island of Bali. The dramatic cliffs overlook the ocean, and arriving before sunset allows you to explore before...
Nikolaj Plads 10, 1067 København K, Denmark
Some of my most spiritual moments have happened in modern art museums, so I love that this gallery is housed in Copenhagen's third oldest church.
When I visited, I saw a haunting exhibit by artist Zineb Sedira about the complexities of our...
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art—or, commonly, the Met—is one of the world's great museums, alongside the Louvre, the British Museum, and a handful of others. It would be easy to devote an entire week's visit to the museum alone, and...
Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
The Taj Mahal is referred to as "the jewel of Muslim art in India,” by UNESCO in its listing on the World Heritage Site registry. The Mughal ruler Shah Jahan had the truly magnificent white marble...
Noida Mor, Pandav Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110092, India
Explore 10,000 years of India's history, culture, architecture, and spirituality on over sixty acres of manicured grounds. Akshardham is an elaborate Swaminarayan temple complex that features an IMAX theater, musical fountains, sunken gardens, and...
Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Peliatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
One of the best parts of the Yoga Barn is how customizable it is. Want to go bonkers and immerse yourself in yoga, meditation, and raw foods from morning til night? You can absolutely (and affordably) do so. Want to mix a few asanas in with an...
615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
As the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States, St. Louis Cathedral is something you won't want to miss on your trip through the Big Easy. Enjoy the spiritual splendor of the interior, then meander the laid-back streets...
Mt Shasta, CA 96067, USA
30 feet below the cornice of a narrow crevasse, I’m dangling like a marionette on a 9-mil rope, staring in awe at a rippling splinter of luminescent blue ice—the size of a 10-story building—jutting from a rift in the Hotlum glacier. And what’s...
Erasmus, Bronkhorstspruit, 1020, South Africa
I travelled to the Nanhua Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, expecting to take a tour around and see something different. Peace, calm and serenity are some of the enlightened characteristics I experienced here. Aside from the main temple, the...
No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853
One of the aspects of temple life I found most interesting in Taipei was the Taiwanese obsession with luck and wishes. At almost every temple, one can find areas where the faithful leave their fondest wishes in the hopes that they will be granted....
55800 San Juan Teotihuacán, State of Mexico, Mexico
While it's not in Mexico City proper, the sacred pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan is close enough–about 30 miles– for an easy day trip if you're interested in architecture, archaeology, and indigenous history. The site's primary...
The focal point of our trip to Turkey was visiting places of religious significance. The House of the Virgin Mary was by far one of the most serene places we visited. There is a sense of calmness in the air, a place of reverence, a place we would...
Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City
No wonder the lines to get inside St. Peter's Basilica are some of the longest in Europe: It's home to world-famous architecture (many consider the dome atop St. Peter's Basilica to be Michelangelo's greatest achievement), one of the best views of...
Panchavati, Nashik, Maharashtra, India
According to Hindu legend, Ramayana Rama and wife Sita, along with her brother Lakshmana, stayed in Panchavati during their Vanvasa period. The Laxman Rekha is located in Panchavati about a kilometre away from Sita Gupha. It was from here that...
158 Thanon Wang Doem, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is a Buddhist temple in Bangkok's Yai district. It is situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple is one of the best known Thai landmarks. The mosaics which cover the temple create a pearly sheen during...
110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H2Y 1T2, Canada
A church—or, at least, a small chapel—has stood on the site of the Basilica of Notre-Dame since shortly after Ville-Marie (Montréal's predecessor) was founded in 1642. The current building, however, dates to 1829 and was...
Tân Hòa, Tân Bình, Tp. Tây Ninh, Tây Ninh, Vietnam
One of the most beautiful temples in Vietnam, Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, almost 3 hours drive from Ho Chi Minh The meaning of the name is The highest spiritual place where God reigns. Must visit for its architecture, Colors, Ceremony and People....
Av. Fray Antonio Alcalde 10, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Built in 1618, the Guadalajara Cathedral plays host to the mummified remains of Santa Inocencia, who, according to legend, was killed in the 1700s by her father, who disapproved of her interest in Catholicism. Local rumors have it that her hair...
100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091, USA
Suburban Chicago isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of major religious centers. But Wilmette, a small town located less than 10 miles north of the Windy City, is home to the only Bahá’í House of...
Renmin E St, Xiahe Xian, Gannan Zangzuzizhizhou, Gansu Sheng, China
For a truly spiritual experience, Xiahe is one of my favorite destinations in China. Xiahe, part of the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture located on the southern edge of Gansu Province, is home to the Labrang Monastery. Founded around 1700,...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Adorned with more than 20,000 blue handcrafted İznik tiles, stained-glass windows, and the golden brushstrokes of a 17th-century calligrapher, the Blue Mosque is the legacy of Sultan Ahmet I (1590–1617). The young sultan audaciously wished...
Jl. Tirta, Manukaya, Tampaksiring, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80552, Indonesia
Balinese people have taken ritual baths in the waters of Tirta Empul since it was founded in 962. The waters are believed to have healing powers, both physically and spiritually, so people come from all over the island to purify...
On every trip, I try to ride my motorbike up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a beautiful temple on the top of the mountain just outside of town. The view of the Chiang Mai valley is breathtaking on a clear day. I go to the shrine in the back of the...
Delphi 330 54, Greece
The belly button of the world lies eighty miles northwest of Athens, where the southern slope of Mount Parnassus, cut deeply by cascades feeding the River Pleistos, drops precipitously into the Gulf of Corinth. High above the ravine in a cleft...
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