Well, the most sacred place is truly inside you. In the metaphoric sense, the most sacred place is in your own heart.
The Mahabodhi (Great Enlightenment) Temple in Bodhgaya, India
That is where all sacred journeys source from, where all spiritual awareness resides, where all all of your acts of kindness, honor, and grace originate.
Keep this in mind, and all the places you go and all the places you are "become" spiritual places, including the woods and your home but also your office and somehow even Wal-Mart.
Keep this in mind -- everyplace you go is sacred, because you are spirit and you are there -- and all the many gifts you already have become ever-more apparent.
That noted, there are places that -- because of the energy and mystery concentrated in them, because people congregate there now who, inspired to awareness by some symbol, become intensely aware of spirit -- are known as sacred places.
You may have your own geographic sacred places you go to release your mortal restraints and open yourself to God, spirit, or whatever you choose to call It through prayer, meditation, pondering, or just being, such as the ocean, your garden, a special room ... or somehow even Wal-Mart.
And then there are of course the well-known sacred places, such as churches, temples, mosques and the like within communities, and the world-renowned sacred places such as The Vatican, Mecca, Machu Picchu, and Stonehenge.
But below are seventeen sacred places, many of which are likely new to you. Yes, you may have heard of one or more of them, a few may even be "common" to you depending on where you live, you may have even visited one or more -- and if you have visited one of these sacred places, or if you have anything more of interest to share about them, please describe your experience or what you know below for others! -- but chances are you haven't heard of most of these sacred places.
As geographic places go, these sacred places are certainly worth knowing and visiting! (Click on each link for photos and more in-depth information about each of these sacred places!)
It's not just a big rock. It's not even just the single biggest rock in the world. Well-known in Australia but far less so elsewhere in the world, this immense sandstone rock in central Australia that stands over one thousand feet tall is one of the most sacred places to the Aboriginal people, who call it Uluru.
The spiritual center of the Bahá'í faith includes their holiest of sacred places, the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, and the visually stunning Shrine of the Báb. (Also see the spectacular Bahá'í House of Worship just outside Chicago -- most definitely worth a visit if you get here to my hometown!)
Built over a period of centuries by ancient North Americans in alignment with the stars, this is considered the most important medicine wheel in the American West. It predates the Native American tribes in the region, and has been recognized as a place of great spiritual power for centuries, including by a variety of Native American tribes. It is about 80-90 feet in diameter and 245 feet in circumference, nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, and can only be accessed in the warm summer months.
It is here that Buddha became enlightened after intense meditation under a Bodhi tree. A descendant of that tree still flourishes in Bodhgaya. It also contains a sacred pond where Buddha used to bathe. Watch the video below!
One of the world's greatest cities existed here from 900 to 1300 A.D., with a population of Mississipian Indians larger in 1250 than even London. Their massive ritual mounds, also known as the Pyramids of Illinois, include the geographic and spiritual center, Monk's Mound -- home of the city's ruling priest -- and can still be seen today.
Astrologically aligned to Monk's Mound is the Mound of the Ruler-Priest, where a man who is buried on a bed of more than 20,000 marine shell beads is thought to have been the highest ruler of Cahokia. His skeleton is accompanied by the bones of six human sacrificial victims.
Cahokia experienced a sudden massive population explosion, and then later and just as suddenly, around 1300 AD, a nearly complete abandonment of the city, that is unexplained to this day.
One of the famous stained glass windows in the Cologne Cathedral
One of the most famous churches in the world from an architectural standpoint, and renowned as a towering monument to Christianity, construction on this cathedral started in 1248 and wasn’t complete until 1880.
30,000 people visit it each day. Be sure to see the pictures of its interior including its awe-inspiring nave and beautiful stained glass windows via the link above.
This is not only a stunningly beautiful natural area, but it was also a very sacred place for the Tiahuanaco and also the Incas, and it includes nearly 200 Incan ruins. Both cultures believed that nature spirits and gods lived in the high peaks surrounding Lake Titicaca.
The lake itself, and the islands in the lake, are rich in Andean myth. On the island of Tiahuanaco, for example, it is believed that men and women were made from stones by the creator god Viracocha, who lived in the depths of Lake Titicaca.
Tucked inside a forest, and covering an area of seven acres containing almost no vegetation, is a field of stones.
All of the stones are solid and made up of the same material, but when you strike certain stones lightly with a hammer -- about 1/3 of them known as "live" stones -- they ring much like a bell or metal pipe.
And no one can explain exactly why.
Many people believe there are spiritual or supernatural reasons, others suggest radioactive or extra-terrestrial reasons, and a unique energy is said to emanate in the place.
Over five million people make their way to this Catholic shrine in this town of 17,000 each year, largely due to the visions of the Virgin Mary by a girl named Bernadette in 1858.
If you are interested in the story of Bernadette ... the muddy puddle, the bitter grass, the police interrogation, the healings at the spring, some fascinating photos ... watch this video that someone put together about The Miracle of Lourdes:
Located in Confucius’ hometown, this sacred temple was established in 478 B.C.
Every autumn for the last 2500 years, thousands of pilgrims visit the temple to celebrate the birth of the philosopher whose teachings deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought to this day.
Atop a hill on a quiet street sits the oldest synagogue in the U.S., the Touro Synagogue. Founded in 1763, it still serves an active congregation, and is charming outside and beautiful inside.
"It is not only the oldest Synagogue in America," noted President John F. Kennedy, "but also one of the oldest symbols of liberty. No better tradition exists than the history of Touro Synagogue's great contribution to the goals of freedom and justice for all."
This massive architectural wonder is one of the oldest, largest and most important mosques in the world. It is also important to Christians, as it is said to hold the head of John the Baptist (who is honored as a prophet by both Muslims and Christians.)
It sits on ground that has been sacred to various belief systems for over 3000 years.
A temple to Hadad, the Aramaean god of rain and fertility, first existed on the site around 1000 BC. The Romans built a massive temple to the god Jupiter over the Aramaean temple. With the rise of Christianity, the temple was converted to a church. Then around 700 AD, when Damascus had become the center of the Islamic Empire, the church was demolished and the mosque was built.
Share Your Experiences of Sacred Sites Right Now!
Have you visited any of these sacred sites? What most moved you?
OR, what other sacred sites or spiritual experiences can you tell us about?