You don’t have to think of travel as a spirtual experience, but plenty of seekers have thought of their spiritual experiences as a form of travel.
Every pilgrimage, sojourn in the wilderness, journey of self-discovery, and quest for enlightenment is, after all, a trip of some kind, whether actual or metaphorical. Maybe that’s why road narratives are so common in sacred texts, from the Book of Exodus to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
In The Planet’s Most Spiritual Places (Ivy Press; $30), author Malcolm Croft identifies 100 plots of hallowed ground that have proven to be pivotal pit stops for metaphysically minded travelers through the ages.
Though readers will find churches, mosques, and shrines in these pages, the book adopts a broad definition of spirituality to encompass not only religious institutions but also ancient monuments, natural wonders, and any other spot that sparks, as the book’s introduction puts it, “a better, deeper, and more enduring understanding of our world and how we came to be.”
They are places, in other words, where we begin to grasp “the Great Before and the Great Beyond.”
The volume’s scores of ravishing photos impart mystery and awe, while Croft’s commentary strikes an engaging balance between factual info and open-minded observations about a globe-spanning range of interactions with the infinite. Regardless of the reader’s belief system, there’s plenty here to inspire any pilgrim’s progress.
Scroll on for a peek at five divine places featured in the book.