The Sights Of The Religious World
As time goes on, it seems that religion is taking more and more of a back seat in our lives. It’s hard to think of a time in the Western world that religion dominated our lives. Of course, many still choose to partake and follow a creed or faith, but its influence seems to be waning. It depends on who you are and what you follow for that news to either be scary, or acceptable. We have to go back quite far in history to find a country bound strictly to the laws of religion and religion only in the West.
Despite its clearly decreasing influence – religion has brought a lot into our lives. Even if you don’t follow a religion, you’d be a fool to look past of some of the incredible art and writing it has brought to our world. Whatever your opinion on religion, it will always leave a huge impact on the world, regarding culture. From rising statues of the Buddha to solemn mausoleum, grand temples, rising churches, luxurious mosques and incredible mosaics – there is a lot to see when it comes to religion and what it has left to us.
How can you take in the impact of religion? Through travel of course. The impact of religion on the world means sights to see and experiences to enjoy – or ponder. We might not be religious, but when we combine religion and travel – we can find some amazing experiences – regardless of what we believe. You might be a devout Christian or a strong Atheist – but you can’t argue that there are some truly spectacular sights to see in the religious world.
Where do we start? If you want to see some impressive mosaics – head to Cyprus. There are plenty of Byzantine age temples situated in the Troodos mountain range all full of gold dating back to Medieval times. Scattered between the villages of the mountain range lie some impressive and idyllic monasteries. The Chrysorrogiatissis Monastery is a good place to start, this temple which was founded in 1152 by St Ignatius has been rebuilt a number of times thanks to war and political strife – but the wine made by the monks in Chrysorrogiatissis is second to none and unique to the world.
There is also the celebrated Kykkos Monastery in the pine forests of the Troodos. This temple – at a mile over sea level is high, and the drive up is treacherous, but you’ll be able to take in some amazing views. The temple was bankrolled by the Byzantine Emperor of the time holds saintly icons and silver. You’d be hard pressed to find more luxury! The monasteries of the Troodos range are ideal for short visits and will appeal to those with a taste for the finer things in life – but you need to dress modestly.
Following the Medieval schism that split Christianity into two sections, we can find a lot of differences – but tons of similarities. The temples of Cyprus offer a hint at Orthodox glamour thanks to their Byzantine relics. However – the Catholic world can match that. Some of the most famous art in the world came through the Catholicism inspired ‘Renaissance’ period. From Da Vinci to Michelangelo – the influence of Catholicism on the most famous art pieces known to mankind is undeniable.
For most of that? We head to Italy and the Catholic enclave of the Vatican City – one of the last remnants of the Holy Roman Empire and a throwback from the time when Rome stood on its own as a country. You can see most of the Vatican with an Express Vatican Tour, but be prepared for huge crowds – especially when the Pope is making an appearance. For art, head no further than the Sistine Chapel, and a simple look towards the roof will show Michelangelo’s magnum opus.
Elsewhere? The influence of Catholicism can be seen in Catalan country – in Barcelona to be specific. One of the unique Basilica’s in the world lies in Barcelona and blends Eastern design to Catholic excess. Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is still being built but is a hugely complex design that will only be finished in 2026 – more than 100 years since its designer passed on. It is something that must be seen to be believed…
Europe can’t hog it all though – a third of major holy cities lie within its borders (or half, if you count Israel to be a European country as many do), so that means we can look elsewhere for holy cities. To get our fill of religious sites, we might have to look past Europe. Indeed, if we don’t view Mexico, that means we shall miss out on the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This homage blends the old and new to create a unique religious site in Central America, south of the American border.
There are plenty of holy places to visit, however, we have to be wary – as Western travellers – when considering visits to places like Mecca and Medina – due to political strife and religious upheaval, these sites might not be safe for locals, let alone travellers. However, with the right smarts and knowledge – places like Jerusalem and Bethlehem are safe to visit – almost all year round. In the future, these places might be safer – but for now, there are plenty of holy cities and sites – Canterbury and Salt Lake City are two you might consider!
No matter what we choose to believe or follow in life, we can still partake in the sights, sounds, and culture of religion. Religion has left behind some awe-inspiring sites and if you don’t know your next travel destination – heading out as a mindful neutral to an amazing religious site might be worth its while, just to see and acknowledge. If you follow a creed, you might already know the famous sites of the religion you follow, but never be scared to branch out and take in the sights and sounds of religion, for it has created some of the best things on this planet.
You can view some of my previous travel posts here
LET’S STAY CONNECTED
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and all my other social media pages (links below) to keep right up to date with all things Socially Sam. And remember sharing is caring so I’d really appreciate it if you liked this post to give that share button a little click and spread some love.
Pop on over and follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SociallySamConsultant