A Tour of Religion My Journey to the key places in 5 major religions

December 6 - Today I began my journey with a visit to the basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. This beautiful church was built in 324 and is the first Catholic basilica to have ever been built. It served as the pope's residence until the construction of Saint Peter's basilica. It is large and the interior artwork is extremely intricate, which was the Catholic's way of defying the Protestants and their belief in simpler churches. Although the basilica was initially consecrated in 324, artwork was being added to the interior through the 17th century. Here's some pictures of this magnificent church.

The beautiful basilica of Saint John Lateran

December 8 - Today I arrived in Jerusalem, and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This beautiful church is sacred to Catholics, as it was built over the place they believe Christ was crucified, as well as the place where his tomb was. The church contains many important relics, including a piece of the True Cross (Jesus's cross from the crucifixion), and many other relics relating to the crucifixion of Christ. Here's some pictures of this most holy church.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

December 9 - Today I visited the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine built in Jerusalem. It is built over the rock from which Mohammed is said to have ascended to heaven. The large golden dome is a marvel of Islamic architecture, built in the Byzantine style, and is a truly beautiful monument. Here's some pictures of this stunning shrine.

The Dome of the Rock

December 10 - Today I visited two key Jewish sites, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is considered to be one of the holiest Jewish sites. It was constructed by the king Herod between 20 BC and AD 64. It is believed to be the place where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and was the location of two great Jewish temples. However, this place is also sacred to Muslims, and the Jewish often have restricted access to this site. The Western Wall is located on the Temple Mount. It was the only piece of the second temple left standing after the Romans destroyed it. It is Jewish custom to write prayers in the cracks of this massive stone wall. Although it is simple, it is an example of the strength of the old Jewish temple for it to still be standing after all these years. Here's some pictures I got while visiting these holy Jewish sites.

Temple Mount (top) and the Western Wall (bottom)

December 11 - Today I made a trip into Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca, which is the most sacred place for all of Islam. It is the birthplace of Mohammed, as well as the birthplace of Islam itself. One of the five pillars of Islam is the Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca that must be made once in the life of a Muslim. In the center of Mecca is the Ka'ba, the most sacred object of Islam, a block of stone with a rich history in the Islamic faith. Here's some pictures I snapped of this important religious site.

Mecca

December 14 - Today I arrived in India to visit the city of Varanasi, a city sacred to the Hindus. Pilgrims flock to this city to bathe in the River Ganges and wash away all their sins. They also come here to die, as they believe if you die in Varanasi you are liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This city is one of Hinduism's seven sacred cities. Here's some pictures I got of this beautiful city.

The sacred city Varanasi

December 15 - Today I visited the sacred Buddhist site of Bodh Gaya and the Mahabodi temple in India. This place is where Buddhists believe Buddha obtained his enlightenment. It is regarded as the most important of the four sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The temple was built about 300 years after the enlightenment of Buddha. Here are some pictures of this historic and sacred landmark.

Bodh Gaya and the Mahabodhi temple

December 17 - Today I visited the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The massive temple complex was initially built as a Hindu temple to the god Vishnu, but became a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. The temple was designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devus in the Hindu religion, with a large moat and outer wall surrounding three rectangular galleries and the five towers. Here are some pictures of this massive Hindu temple.

The temple of Angkor Wat

December 20 - Today I finished my journey with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar. This stunning golden pagoda is 325 feet tall, and contain relics of Buddha. This beautiful pagoda is covered in gold plates, with thousands of diamonds and rubies adorning the crown. Historians are unsure of exactly when it was built, but many believe it to be the oldest Buddhist stupa in the world. Here are some picturs of this stunning stupa.

The beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda

Credits:

Created with images by caharris - "rome cathedral catholic" • rjhuttondfw - "Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano" • rjhuttondfw - "Baldacchino - Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano" • rjhuttondfw - "Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome" • rjhuttondfw - "The Disposition (1844)" • Jim, the Photographer - "Basilica of Saint John Lateran" • krebsmaus07 - "Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem" • Jorge Lascar - "The Church of the Holy Sepulchre" • Jorge Lascar - "Detail of wall behind The Stone of Anointing - Church of the Holy Sepulchre" • krebsmaus07 - "Church of the Holy Sepulchre - Jerusalem" • WordRidden - "Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall" • pracucci - "Moschea di Omar (Dome of the Rock) - Gerusalemme" • ibrahim62 - "dome dome of the rock architecture" • bgcurtis - "dome of the rock old city jerusalem" • MeganY - "jerusalem mosque temple mount" • ScottPhoto1 - "The Temple Mount" • david55king - "Temple Mount - Jerusalem Israel" • u07ch - "Wailing Wall / Western Wall" • israeltourism - "Western Wall" • Camera Eye - "Holly Ka'ba" • ebrahim - "mecca religion cube" • soham_pablo - "Mecca Masjid" • GLady - "mecca mina buildings" • BOMBMAN - "Varanasi......" • nevil zaveri (thank you for 10 million+ views :) - "pagoda, varanasi" • Ahron de Leeuw - "Watching the river passing by ..." • Pedro Nuno Caetano - "Invading stripes" • jafsegal - "Varanasi, India" • manbartlett - "untitled image" • manbartlett - "untitled image" • manbartlett - "untitled image" • José Morcillo Valenciano - "Meditation pose" • MartinFuchs - "cambodia angkor wat temple complex" • sharonang - "ta som temple temple travel" • dMz - "siem rap cambodia banteay srei" • phanhop - "Untitled" • ArkkrapolA - "buddha shwedagon statue" • sharonang - "shwedagon pagoda pagoda popular" • jasoneppink - "Shwedagon Pagoda south entrance" • amanderson2 - "Shwedagon Pagoda at NIght Yangon Myanmar"

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