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Sacred Places of a Lifetime - 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations
(National Geographic) ISBN 978-1426203367 1426203365

This coffee table book motivates spiritual travel to cemeteries, churches, monasteries, mosques, pilgrimage sites, shrines, synagogues, temples and religious festivals, ceremonies and rituals around the world. Readers learn about holy places sacred to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Rastafarians, Sikhs and indigenous religions.

Written for travelers of every religious belief, Sacred Places of a Lifetime is respectful, inspirational and informative. Each of the ten chapters begins with an introduction. Detailed descriptions of each religious site and event include information on when to go, how to get there, a map, images, website and a highlights sidebar that lists what to see and do.

For example, the Almendres Cromlech, a megalithic site in central Portugal, has 95 giant stones in two circles. The 400-page guidebook recommends walking to the nearby Almendres Menhir, or standing stone, dating from 4000-5000 BC. It explains that admission is free and spring is the best time to visit the Almendres Cromlech.

Best cultural travel sites

Special sections list top ten religious and cultural attractions, such as rock art sites, sacred trees, stained glass windows, sacred mountains, historic pilgrimages and harvest festivals.

Beautiful color photos, many full-page, depict the religious ruins, monuments, shrines, buildings, icons, sculptures and festivals. The Majestic Ruins introduction, for example, features a high-impact image of a carved stone head squeezed by tree roots at Ta Prohm Temple near Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

A glossary defines terms like Imam (a leader of prayers in an Islamic mosque), Ashkenazic (Jews whose ancestors came from communities in medieval Germany and eastern Europe), Cluniac Order (a medieval Roman Catholic Benedictine monk order in eastern France) and Mandala (a Hindu or Buddhist symbol representing the universe).

Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem

Introduced as quiet places of contemplation, the list of Ten Sacred Gardens describes Mt. St. Sepulchre Monastery, Washington, D.C.; the Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco, CA; Sacred Temple Gardens, Kauai, Hl; Jardin Etnobotanico, Oaxaca, Mexico; Ryoan-ji Rock Garden, Kyoto, Japan; Daisenin Teien, Kyoto, Japan; Palace Garden, Pasargadae, Iran; Jahan Nama Garden, Shiraz, Iran; Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem, Israel, and Generalife, Granada, Spain. Sacred Places of a Lifetime describes what to see in each garden, and provides a website for trip planning.

For example, the National Geographic guidebook specifies that the olive trees in Jerusalem's Garden of Gethsemane are 1,000 to 2,000 years old. Visitors can attend open-air services at the altar in the garden on Maundy Thursday, the night Jesus was betrayed here.

Night religious festivals

The Ten Nocturnal Festivals list highlights nighttime religious celebrations, including Noche de la Primavera, Mexico City, Mexico; New Year's Eve, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Lantern Festival, China; Tet, Vietnam; Laylatul-Bara'ah, Pakistan, and the Summer Solstice in Glastonbury, England.

Each religious festival description includes the date, location and special events. For example, the Chichibu Yomatsuri Festival takes place on December 2 and 3 in Chichibu City, Japan, 90 minutes by train from Tokyo. Participants haul six floats decorated with lanterns and carvings to the city hall, while fireworks illuminate the sky. Stalls sell snacks and rice wine.

National Geographic Sacred Places of a Lifetime


Travel That's Good for the Soul
  1. Sacred Landscapes
    • Hallowed hills, mysterious mountains and sacred springs
  2. Megaliths & Mysteries
    • Delving into the secrets of our ancestral past
  3. Cradles of Faith
    • Visits to the landmarks of religion
  4. Majestic Ruins
    • Sites that still inspire despite the ravages of time
  5. Daily Devotion
    • Places steeped in prayer
  6. Shrines
    • Tombs and relics of holy men and women
  7. The Pilgrim's Way
    • In the footsteps of saints and founders of religions
  8. Ceremonies & Festivals
    • A potpourri of religious fervor, spectacle and fun
  9. In Remembrance
    • Places of reverence to honor the dead
  10. Retreats
    • Hideaways promising both spiritual and physical renewal
Sites by Religion

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