Touch the holy places
The first – and most common – is visiting iconic places for a given religion. Believers go or go to places where legendary, significant events took place or occur: many pilgrims from time immemorial come to Mecca, Jerusalem, Golgotha, Orthodox churches, the Vatican, major Buddhist temples.
Even in the Middle Ages, people believed that in such “centers of faith” their prayers have a special efficacy. Associated with the name of a prophet, a saint, or a divine sign, these places have always accumulated many pilgrims. For example, today the main center of pilgrimage in France is Lourdes. In the middle of the XIX century, this city in the heart of the Pyrenees was overshadowed by the appearance of the Virgin Mary Bernadette Soubira in the Massabiel grotto.
But not only world religions have similar centers. The revived interest in the ancient, pagan religions encourages people to look for ancient temples – Slavic, Celtic. Of course, they are also places of power, memory – and places of pilgrimage.
The second goal is healing. The furious belief that the relics of the saints, icons, altars, menhirs, the touch of the papal hand have healing power, lives endlessly in people. It is difficult to say for sure what exactly healed and heals people: indomitable faith (it is the “placebo effect”) or the effect of unearthly forces. But the facts remain the facts: cripples rose to their feet, the blind saw their sight, and the lepers got rid of the disease.
The more important healing, invisible to the eye, is spiritual healing. To atone for sin – or to comprehend the truths under the guidance of a wise teacher, in the east and west religious travels in this regard were similar. To become better, wiser, atone for sins – a person must pass the test. Medieval confessors often imposed penance, demanding to make a pilgrimage, and sometimes ordered to go barefoot or in one shirt.
It is interesting
The third goal is very earthly and human: curiosity. Being Orthodox, Catholic, or an atheist, a person can still go to Mecca — watch a religious act. People try not only to visit the temple, but to get to the service.
Even if it is a foreign religion – but natural curiosity, the desire for knowledge leads a person to a mosque or a Buddhist temple, a Catholic monastery or an Orthodox church. Many diocesan administrations have introduced foreign economic departments that regulate pilgrimage issues into the structure.
Not only for believers, but also for ordinary tourists often matters: is there a temple where I go,? Often, in addition to the church, there is nothing interesting in the town – but if there is a monastery, a person will definitely linger for a while.
Often, visits to temples, the organizers of excursions include absolutely seemingly unrelated tours. For example, you go on a sightseeing tour of Pattaya (Thailand), and get to the Temple Wat Phra Yai. Moreover, the main action of the sightseeing tour takes place in this Temple in the open. Or an excursion to the River Kwai. Here the main attribute is river rafting, but not only. Many organizers do not forget about the Temple on the way there or back. Most often it is a monk’s cave on the banks of the river, but there are more exotic options.
And how many interesting things are hidden in a trip to the island of Djerba in Tunisia! The synagogue, which stands here from time immemorial, isn’t it worthy of your attention?
Greece. Wherever you look, history is exactly where history is religion. Practically in any town, in any resort you can touch the religious history of our world, not to mention special pilgrim tours, for example, Athos.
Another favorite place for our tourists was Israel. One-day and two-day tours here until recently were popular here from Egypt and Turkey. Now it is difficult, but the temples of Israel are already thousands of children and will definitely wait for their pilgrims from Russia.
Religious tourism, on the contrary
There is also “religious tourism the other way around.” Do not guess?
Holy relics go on a journey themselves – and along the way they follow, people come to worship, to see, to ask for help, to touch, to pray. Thus, the icons and relics of the saints “travel”.
Religious tourism is one of the most exalted types of tourism. Of course, now you rarely meet pilgrims barefoot overcoming the borders of Schengen, except that refugees, however, can hardly be called pilgrims.
But still, the interest in the divine, the unearthly – to know, see, take communion – is very great.