Nan Madol – Venice of the Pacific

Early European explorers called Nan Madol the “Venice of the Pacific” because the ancient city was built upon a coral reef and is intersected by artificial water canals. On the remote Micronesian island of Pohnpei...

Wind-Blasted Ruins of Tiahuanaco

High on the treeless plains just south of Lake Titicaca stand the wind-blasted ruins of Tiahuanaco. Here reside the remnants of a once-great ceremonial center called the “Gateway of the Sun,” appropriately elevated on...

Thebes – Ancient Center of Egyptian Religious Life

The cyclical rhythms of nature — the annual flood of the Nile that made agriculture possible and the daily phases of the sun — became the basis for Egypt’s worldview. The cycle of birth,...

Chichén Itzá – Sacred City to Both the Maya

In the flat, sun-baked region of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, an interesting hybrid of two cultures emerged. First was the Maya, with advanced knowledge of the cosmos, then around 1000 CE the Toltec, who brought...

Putuo Shan – Sacred Peak

Just an hour’s flight from Shanghai, Putuo Shan is worlds away from the bustling Chinese metropolis. This tiny, 12-sq.-km (4 2 ⁄ 3 -sq.-mile) island, 32km (20 miles) off the China coast in the...

Assisi – Sacred Place of Italy

North of Rome, in the quiet Umbria countryside, is the charming hill-top town of Assisi. Although its early founding remains questionable, there seems to be evidence that the town was inhabited by the Etruscans...

Lourdes – The Most Visited Pilgrimage Destination in Europe

Lourdes was hardly more than a hamlet until 1858, the year a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous had the first of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary at a location called Grotte de...

Saint Joseph’s Oratory

The world-renowned basilica dominating the southwestern Montreal skyline started out as a small wooden chapel on Mount Royal. The founder was a simple brother who lived a childhood of poverty, and was orphaned at...

Archipelago of Tonga

The archipelago of Tonga borders the western frontier of Melanesia, yet is distinctly Polynesian in race, culture and language. The actual land area is a scant 269 square miles (433 sq. km) of verdant...

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The temples of Mesopotamian soared above the flat river valley, rising tier upon tier to the sanctuaries that crowned their parapets. As centuries passed, their walls grew even higher, culminating in the colossal neo-Babylonian...

Haleakala – Very Sacred Place to Ancient Hawaiians

Everything in East Maui centers around, or is inside, the massive cone-shaped Haleakala volcano. Rising 10,023 feet (3,007 m) into the tropical sky, from a sea-level base of 33 miles (53 km) in diameter,...

Climbing Mount Shasta

The landmark Mount Shasta is the 14,162-foot (4,249-m) centerpiece of northern California, rising like a giant diamond in a field of evergreens. Long regarded as a place of intense energy, Mount Shasta has a...

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