Mysticism without borders: 5 unmissable places

The five places of the soul to visit around the world. The most spectacular, where spirituality goes beyond the confines of religions.

It does not matter what faith one practices or whether one is a believer or not. Some places of the spirit have a special energy that goes beyond the confines of religions and raises the heart and mind. These are not the classic pilgrimage destinations but five spectacular corners where you can find moments of meditation and reflection.

Eremo delle Carceri (Italy)

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Four kilometers from Assisi in Umbria and almost 800 meters above sea level, the Eremo delle Carceri is the place where San Francesco and his followers retired to pray.

It is carved from the rock on the slopes of Mount Subasio, a detail that makes it an essential place for prayer but also deep meditation. The place, with its natural gouts, was considered sacred already in the early Christian age. In the 15th century, San Bernardino da Siena commissioned the construction of the current church of Santa Maria delle Carceri, which incorporated a primitive chapel, formerly of San Francesco. The small complex also includes a convent where the pilgrims retreat to this day in contemplation in every season of the year.

The Western Wall (Jerusalem)

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It is all that remains of the ancient temple of Jerusalem and continues to excite those who go to visit it. Many also not of the Jewish faith, stop to recite a prayer, and insert a thought into the cracks of the stones of the Wall. Alongside, many different people, some came here to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah, others take pictures before a wedding.

Known since the Middle Ages as the Wailing Wall, as the Jews were seen here lament the destruction of the Temple, is today a universal pilgrimage destination, a place of union of the faiths.

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Blue Mosque (Istanbul)

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It is among the most photographed sacred sites in the world. Its shape stands out in the skyline of the Turkish metropolis. The Blue Mosque is a true masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the result of the work of a student of the famous artist and architect Sinan who marked with his style the history of the city.

The real name is Sultan Ahmet Camii, but it is universally known as Blue for the turquoise that dominates the exterior and interior of the structure. Walls, columns, and arches are covered by Iznik majolica. Inside, the blue and green of the majolica shines thanks to the presence of almost 300 windows. It is thanks to this play of lights that the prayer hall is a suggestive place for contemplation.

Koya San (Japan)

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It is the sacred mountain to the Japanese Buddhist sect Shingon. Here at the beginning of the ninth century AD the monk Kukai, later known as Kobo Daishi, founded the first community of what is still one of the most popular Buddhist cults of Japan.

Today, the temple complex that forms the sacred area at the top of the mountain is on the UNESCO Heritage List, a pilgrimage destination throughout the year. Nearly a hundred temples host tourists and faithful who want to live a unique experience in contact with the monastic life: wake up before dawn for prayer, simple rooms with the typical tatami floor, and strictly vegan cuisine.

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Among the most evocative places to visit, inside the cemetery, is the pavilion where the body of Kobo Daishi is kept. Almost 10,000 oil lanterns, perennially lit, illuminate the outside and the interior hall with the monk’s tomb closed to visitors. Legend has it that the first two were lit in the eleventh century, one by Emperor Shirakawa and the other by a poor woman.

Pho Temple (Thailand)

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Perhaps the most famous destination in Bangkok. The Pho temple, built in 1832, is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year with the large statue of the recessed golden Buddha. The absolute charm of the figure of Buddha remains, lying in a seraphic and detached pose, to strike the attentive visitor.

46 meters long and 15 high gold laminated and with inlaid mother-of-pearl eyes and feet, it evokes the stories of the Buddha’s entrance into Nirvana. To avoid the tourist crowds and find a corner of meditation better to go early in the morning. The temple opens at 8, an ideal time to enjoy the atmosphere, between the smoke of incense and the prayers of the monks. The Pho Temple is also an important center for teaching and practicing traditional Thai massages.

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