Top Faith-Based Travel Locations
A pilgrimage to a religious site is a once in a lifetime dream for many travellers. The Holy Land, home of the roots to Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is a destination many travellers aspire to visit at least once in their lives. Here are some of the top faith-based travel destinations in the Holy Land.
Jerusalem is a top tourist attraction for visitors of many faiths. The golden-topped Dome of the Rock is sacred to both Jews and Muslims as the site of the first and second Jewish temples – the original was said to have been built by King Solomon and held the Ark of the Covenant. The Dome of the Rock is now an Islamic shrine at Temple Mount where Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven accompanied by the angel Jibril or Gabriel. The Dome of the Rock also covers the Foundation Stone, said to be the holiest site for Jews. The Al Aqsa Mosque, also part of the Temple Mount, is the third most important Islamic mosque, after Mecca and Medina.
Adjacent to the Dome of the Rock is the Western Wall or Wailing Wall. The wall survives as part of the second temple and part of the original Temple Mount. For centuries, this has been a major religious location for Jews due to its proximity to the Holiest of Holies in the temple itself. Traditionally, visitors write a prayer and place it in the wall.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is an important destination for Christians, who have been making pilgrimages to the site since the 4th century. Located in the old Christian quarter of Jerusalem, this church covers the location where Jesus was said to have been crucified, buried and resurrected.
The Via Dolorosa is the pathway that Jesus is reported to have taken after he was sentenced by Pontius Pilate and is known as the most sacred Christian paths in the world.
Mount Zion, also in Jerusalem, marks the location of both the Last Supper and the tomb of King David, making this an important site for both Christian and Jewish visitors.
In Egypt, Mt. Sinai is a popular destination where many believe Moses was given the Ten Commandments. Others interested in following in the footsteps of Moses might consider visiting Mt. Nebo in Jordan, where it is believed that Moses first viewed the Promised Land and was later buried.
Every Muslim is encouraged to visit Mecca once in their lives. Located in the Makkah province in Saudi Arabia, Mecca is Islam’s spiritual centre because it is considered the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed and the place where the Quran was revealed to him. The journey to Mecca is known as the Hajj, a trip that all Muslims who have the means should take at least once in their lifetime. The visit is supposed to give the traveller forgiveness for all their sins. Non-Muslims are prohibited from entering Mecca. In Mecca, one can see the Masjid al-Haram, the largest mosque in the world. The Zam Zam well reputed to contain the purest water on heaven and earth. You can also see Hira, in Jibal al-Noor, The Mountain of Light, a cave in which Abraham received his first verses of the Quran from the angel Jibril, also known as Gabriel.
Wherever you go, bring comfortable shoes, dress for the weather and bring a sense of adventure. You’ll be travelling in the footsteps of millions of religious faithful and seeing not only major sacred sites but also beautiful wonders of the world.