Religion occupies the most important place in the life of most of the world's inhabitants. In some cases, it brings peace and harmony to the social structure, in others it causes directly opposite effects. Most religions have cities that are of great sacred importance to a given faith. TOP 10 holy cities of the world cannot be compared by significance or by any other criterion, because each of them is unique.
1. Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
In the west of the Arabian Peninsula, about 100 kilometers from the coast of the Red Sea, is the city of Mecca, which is the world center of Muslim pilgrimage. Entrance to this holy city is forbidden to any Gentiles. The canonical interpretation of history says that Mohammed, after strengthening his Muslim community, entered Mecca in 630, which surrendered without a fight, and its inhabitants converted to Islam. The holy Kaaba and the whole city turned into the center of Islamism. After that, all Muslims, wherever they are, during prayer turn to Mecca. In the very center of the city stands the mosque where the Kaaba is located.
Today in Mecca is being built the world's largest complex of skyscrapers Abraj al-Beit. In 2010, high-speed overhead railway transport was launched there, with the help of which you can quickly move around Mecca and to places where pilgrims perform ritual rites (Mount Arafat and the valley of Muzdalifa). It was built by the Chinese.
2. The Vatican
Created in the 19th century, the smallest state in the world occupies several blocks in the center of Rome and is formally considered independent from Italy. The papal state received its name from the Vaticanus Hill, which means “place of fortune telling” in Latin. The Vatican has the residence of the pontiff himself and the highest prelates of the Roman Catholic Church. The sovereignty of the Vatican is based on the sovereignty of the Holy See, and is not independent. In other words, the Vatican is just the place where the throne of the pontiff, his court and servants are located. Therefore, diplomats are not accredited under the city-state of the Vatican, but under the Holy See. But even foreign embassies have no place in a tiny state, so they are located in the rest of Rome. Because of this, the Italian Embassy at the Holy See is located on its own territory. In 1964, it was the Holy See that became the permanent observer at the UN, and in 2004 the rights of this mission were even expanded. In 2008, the Vatican began to collaborate on an ongoing basis with Interpol.
3. Jerusalem (Israel)
Jerusalem was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Judea, and now it is the largest city and also the capital of the modern state of Israel. Jerusalem is a very ancient (over 3,500 years) Middle Eastern city located on the watershed between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea at heights of 650-840 meters. This city is the center of three religions, starting from one God - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Therefore, the city is a mixture of historical, cultural and faith monuments of all three religions, it is literally crammed with sights. For Jews here are the shrines Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall - Kotel Maaravi (western wall of the Jerusalem Temple), for any Christians - the Church of the Resurrection of Christ with the Holy Sepulcher, churches built along the route of Christ to Calvary, for Muslims - mosques located on the Temple Mount .
Although there are many government offices in Jerusalem and the Jews themselves consider it to be the capital of Israel, most diplomatic missions are located in Tel Aviv.
4. Lhasa (Tibet)
In the Tibet Autonomous Region, now owned by China, there is the urban district of Lhasa, which used to be the capital of independent Tibet. Its modern district of Chengguan is now called the "city of Lhasa", which in Tibetan means "city of the gods." Here, according to tradition, is the residence of the Dalai Lama. There is a legend according to which the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo, who lived in the 7th century, made Lhasa the capital of the state. True, the capital in those days constantly migrated. Then, in the center of the city, the Jokhang Monastery was erected, which today has become a pilgrimage center. After Lama Tsongkhapa and his students founded 3 large monasteries belonging to the Gelug school in Lhasa in the 15th century, the city entered its heyday. These monasteries were Ganden, Sera and Drepung.
Living in the 17th century, the Dalai Lama Lobsang Gyatso subjugated the whole of Tibet and made Lhasa its capital. There he began the construction of the Potala Palace, which was completed only a few years after his death. Since then, Lhasa has become the real political center of Tibet. Europeans came to Lhasa infrequently. In 1951, half of the city’s population, comprising 25 thousand inhabitants, was represented by monks. To this can be added 15 thousand monks from the surrounding monasteries. In 2000, the population of Lhasa has grown to 200 thousand.
5. Bethlehem (Israel)
Now Bethlehem is located in the Palestinian Authority, on the west bank of the Jordan. In ancient times, it was the region of Judea, and now it is a center of tourism and pilgrimage. It is located only 8 kilometers from Jerusalem, and now has practically merged with it. This city is considered sacred to Christians, second only to Jerusalem itself, because here, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Christ was born. Bethlehem has one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, but in recent years its numbers have been declining due to emigration. Also, according to the Bible, David was born here and was anointed to the kingdom.
6. Varanasi (India)
In the north-east of India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, there is a Varanasi region with the city of the same name. The wisdom of the Brahmins is concentrated here, therefore Varanasi is the center of Hinduism no less than the Vatican for Catholics or Mecca for Muslims. It is also a holy city for Jainists and Buddhists, and in Hindu cosmology is considered the center of the Earth. It is one of the oldest cities in India and around the world.
Legend has it that the god Shiva himself founded Varanasi about 5000 years ago, so the flow of pilgrims here has not been weakened for centuries. Varanasi is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism, it is mentioned in many scriptures (Skanda Purana, Rigveda, Mahabharata and Ramayana). According to other estimates, the city of Varanasi is about 3 millennia, which still makes it older than Rome. It has long been not only an important religious, but also an industrial and commercial center, since silk, muslin, aromatic oils were made here, and ivory was processed. In the VI century BC e., during the time of Gautam Buddha, the city was the center of the kingdom of Kashi. The famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang celebrated his important religious, artistic and educational role. Even then, the city stretched for fifty kilometers along the western bank of the Ganges River.
7. Haifa (Israel)
In northern Israel, the city of Haifa houses the worldwide spiritual and administrative center for the Bahá'í religion. Not everyone has heard of this religion, but it is Haifa that pilgrims of this faith are sent from all over the world. On the slopes of Mount Carmel, located in Haifa, are the “Bahai Gardens”, among which lies the tomb of the Baba (locals call it the Bahai Temple). The tomb is surrounded by terraces. There is also an arched complex of administrative buildings, which includes: the residence of the World House of Justice, the building of the international training center, the international archive and the center for studying texts. Haifa is the third most populated city in Israel and the second largest seaport in the country.
8. Pushkar (India)
The city of Pushkar is located in Ajmer district of the Indian state of Rajahstan, 14 kilometers northwest of the city of Ajmer. This is one of the most important places for Hindu pilgrimage. They often call him "the king of all pilgrimage places." Interestingly, tourists from the West also like to visit this city. It is located on the shores of the lake of the same name, which is also sacred and located at an altitude of 510 meters above sea level. Pushkar is one of the most ancient Indian cities. The date of its foundation is covered in the darkness of centuries, only Hindu traditions say that it was created by the creator of the Brahma Universe himself.
In order to receive the cherished darshan of Vishnu, Brahma had to undergo severe penances here for 60,000 years. There are many Hindu temples in the holy city, most of which were destroyed by Muslim invaders, but were later restored. The temple of Brahma, built in the 14th century, is one of the few dedicated to this particular god. 52 ghats are scattered along the shores of the lake, in which pilgrims take baths in the waters of the sacred lake. Nowadays, a popular camel fair is held here every year.
9. Medina (Saudi Arabia)
In the west of Saudi Arabia, in the Hijaz district, there is another Islamic shrine - the city of Medina. In former times, it was called Yasrib, but then it was renamed the “city of the prophet,” which can also be understood as a “brilliant city” or “enlightened city”. As for the term “Medina”, it simply means “city”. But after Mecca, it is Medina that is the sacred place for Muslims. The importance of this place is that at the mosque of the Prophet Muhammad there is a shrine - the Green Dome or the Dome of the Prophet, erected near the house where he lived. The house of the prophet subsequently became part of the mosque - Caliph Umayyadov Abd Al-Malik built it over the house. Muhammad died in Medina in 632. Al-Cuba, the most important Islamic mosque, is located not far from the Medina. In both sacred cities, many mosques were built, which became the center of attraction of the multi-million pilgrimage of Muslims. The "infidels" are also not allowed into Medina.
10. Salt Lake City (USA)
Salt Lake City is the administrative center and largest city of the US state of Utah. Initially, the name of the city was even longer - Great Salt Lake City (a city by a large salt lake), but Americans who do not like long names sometimes cut it to S.L.C. In June 1847, the first colonists, the Mormons, headed by Brigham Young, arrived here. It was they who laid a settlement near the Great Salt Lake, which eventually turned into a city. The construction of the city was planned by Joseph Smith, who dreamed of an ideal “city of Zion”. This is how all new Mormon settlements were usually planned. As a result, the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared in Salt Lake City, the so-called faith of the founders of the city. Until now, half of the local population is represented by Mormons, so the city has the nickname "holy city of saints."
Hands in Feet. Subscribe to our Yandex Zen channel!