Are you looking for a travel experience that will totally transform your life? Justine Kim explores the best spots to satisfy your spirit.

Since the beginning of time, man has worshipped gods. Throughout the world, there is plenty of physical evidence that traces the history of man’s quest to reunite with the divine: ancient stone circles, majestic pyramids, gothic cathedrals and mountaintop shrines. People have visited these sacred sites for healing, inspiration and guidance.

Mainstream western scientists may scoff at suggestions of water from holy wells curing illnesses and the like, but the concept of powerful places has been known to many cultures for thousands of years.

Regardless of what religion you adhere to, or even if you're not religious, there are certain places that evoke feelings of awe and wonder. These places may not move you to suddenly believe in an unseen power, but the sheer beauty and depth of history can be enough to take your breath away. Here are ten of the most holy places that you can find on the globe.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

On the Corcovado mountain high above Rio de Janeiro, you will find one of the world’s most visited holy statues, the Cristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer. In 1931, the statue was inaugurated as an icon of faith to celebrate the Centenary of Brazilian Independence of 1822. The statue has open arms, a gesture of blessing, protection and power.

Mount Fuji, Japan

Japan is a very tranquil and picturesque country with a lot of religious and cultural history. The elegant Mount Fuji is a mysterious and spiritual landmark that has inspired art and literature throughout the ages.

For generations, Mount Fuji, also called Fujiyama (“everlasting life”) has been considered a sacred mountain that pilgrims climb as a religious experience. An estimated 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year, about 30 per cent are foreigners.

Sedona, Arizona

You don’t have to leave North America to find places known for miracles. Sedona, especially the Navajo region, is a noted spiritual hotspot. It has been a pilgrimage destination since prehistoric times. Long before the Europeans settled North America, the indigenous Navajo aboriginals and natives from Canada and Central America journeyed here for healing and learning.

Sedona features rich red sandstone buttes and monoliths. These rocks are said to emit a powerful energy, which may be because of their high concentration of magnetic iron. The spiritual pull is palpable, especially at sunset when the mountains catch fire with reflected glow.

Egypt

If you ever get a chance to visit Egypt, witnessing the absolute wonder of the ancient pyramids is a must. West of Cairo, the three pyramids of Giza rise from the edge of the Nile’s west bank in perfect geometric form. They are thought to be the work of Egyptians from around 2500 B.C. The pyramids are the only remaining of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Each year, over 65,000 backpackers make the 25-mile hike up the 500-year-old path. Machu Picchu (“ancient peak”) is found amid the Andes mountain range, just northwest of the former Incan capital of Cusco. For centuries, it was buried in Peru’s jungle and was discovered in 1911 by a Yale historian. The spectacular ruins include staircases, towers, fountains, terraces and a temple. The magic here is unmatched.

Goa, India

There is no dearth of spiritual destinations in India. The country is overflowing with them. Goa is located on the west coast of India and thanks to nearly 500 years of Western influence, it represents an entirely different landscape compared to the rest of the country. The region is embraced for its quiet and peaceful atmosphere. It is known for its architecture, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Perhaps the most interesting trait of the area is that for the most part, Hindus and Catholics coexist.

Tibet and Nepal

These bordering regions are epicentres of religion and holiness. Tibet is the traditional centre of Tibetan Buddhism and the homeland of spiritual and political leader, the Dalai Lama. A journey here with the monks will certainly change you.

Nepal is a small country between the People’s Republic of China and India. More than eighty per cent of its people practice Hinduism. Trek to Nepal to see the Himalayas and Mount Everest.

Vatican City and Rome, Italy

This list wouldn’t be complete without the Vatican and Rome. They make the cut not only for their religious history, but also for their magnificent past as a capital for the arts, literature and culture.

Don’t miss St. Peter’s Basilica, the heart of Vatican City and the home of the Catholic Church. Even if you aren’t a Catholic, the church’s design will stop you in your tracks.

Mecca, Saudi Arabia

It is the centre of the Islamic world and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. It is located in the Sirat Mountains of central Saudi Arabia. Every Muslim hopes to make a hajj, or pilgrimage, to its shrine at least once in his or her lifetime. When they pray, Muslims face in the direction of this city no matter where they are in the world.

Jerusalem, Israel

It can be argued that no other city comes close to Jerusalem in terms of historical and religious significance. Judaism, Christianity and Islam can all trace their roots back to the Holy City. It is also the home of The Dome of the Rock, a shrine completed in 691 A.D., and is believed to be where the Prophet Muhammad began his journey to heaven. So if you want to visit the site of the three monolithic religions, then Jerusalem’s the place.

By Justine Kim

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