Top Sacred Places

Chris’ personal picks from places in the world that he has visited.

Jerusalem: Uniquely, Jerusalem is a holy city to three major world religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Old City is home to sites of key religious importance, such as the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. To visit this city is to witness the fervor of the centuries.

Canterbury Cathedral, England: One of the oldest Christian churches in England, founded in 602 AD by St. Augustine, it’s the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury - leader of Anglicans worldwide.  The beauty and grandeur of the architecture and medieval stained glass windows reflects its historic and religious importance.

Imam Reza shrine, Mashhad, Iran: The beautiful pilgrimage shrine of Imam Reza, built where Imam Reza, the eighth Shiite Imam, died in 818 AD, sees 20 million pilgrims at the tomb of Imam Reza each year with its golden domes, tiled minarets and spacious courtyards. I was shown its beauty by a local, proud to share its wonders.

The Golden Temple, Amritsar, India: The Harmandir Sahib is the holiest shrine in Sikhism. More commonly known as the Golden Temple, the temple is a major pilgrimage destination for Sikhs from all over the world. It is still fully alive with religious fervor and sacredness, and visitors are welcome to join in the experience.

Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand: Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is home to more Buddha images than any other Bangkok temple and it shelters the largest Buddha in Thailand. It is the birthplace of traditional Thai massage and you can still experience this skill here.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican: St. Peter's is the largest church ever built and one of the holiest sites in all Christendom. It stands where Peter the Apostle (and first Pope) was crucified and buried. Founded by Constantine in 324, it was rebuilt in the 16th century by Renaissance masters including Michelangelo and Bernini – breathtaking

Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal: Swayambhunath is an ancient religious complex atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley, west of Kathmandu city. It is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in parts of the temple. The place is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus and there is a wonderful mix of pilgrims.

Varanasi, India: Varanasi (also known as Benares) is considered the most sacred place for all Hindus. It sits on the banks of the Ganges River in the northern India and is the site of a holy shrine of Lord Shiva. The steps into the muddy river waters with the colourful pilgrims are a window into the Hindu faith and a privilege to behold.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey: The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque - better known as the "Blue Mosque"- dominate the skyline of Istanbul. In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet built an Islamic place of worship that is sublime, the blue tiles of the interior producing a light that’s like no other.

Cordoba Cathedral, Spain: The Mezquita (Spanish for "Mosque") of Cordoba is a beautiful and fascinating building that symbolizes the many religious changes Cordoba has undergone over the centuries. Today, the Mezquita is the cathedral of Cordoba, but its soul is the work of Islamic architects, who built it as a mosque in the 8th century.