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Sacred Places

Stonehenge, The Great Pyramid, Delphi, The Temple Mount, The Church Of The Holy Sepulcher

Every civilization has its share of sacred places, that is, geographical locations, buildings, monuments, or environmental features, such as mountains, lakes, rocks, waterfalls, and so on, that are believed to be endowed with intense spiritual qualities. Indeed, such places are frequently thought to possess a variety of supernatural powers that can heal, rejuvenate, or otherwise affect the human beings who visit them, often as devout pilgrims. They are also sometimes thought to be the focal points of creation, the places where deities first manifested themselves or performed some fundamental actions, and are thus typically steeped in mythology and theological dogmas.

Stonehenge. Wiltshire England. Constructed over a span of fifteen hundred years, Stonehenge is one of the oldest sacred places on the planet. The exact function of the stone circles remains unknown, although numerous theories exist. © BOB KRIST/CORBIS

In what follows, we shall consider eight well-known sacred places in several parts of the world, all of which have not only had a profound impact on the civilizations that venerate them, but also, in several cases, on a fair share of the human race. They are England's Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Egypt, the Greek oracle at Delphi, the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán, the great Islamic pilgrimage site of Mecca, and the Ise-Jingu, the most sacred of all Japanese Shinto shrines.

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