Transcendent Places Around the World to Find Your Inner Peace

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Sunset over the basalt rock formations of Giant's Causeway on the north coast of Northern Ireland. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Places are not inherently spiritual, but rather become so when we experience a sense of wonder and acceptance, awe or healing by being there and feeling a pure connection to something far greater than ourselves. No matter where we go—whether wondrous cliffs in Ireland or a shopping center in Finland, a turtle reserve or a graveyard—or how we get there, we can be on a spiritual journey. Here are some suggestions to find your own liminal places—spaces between heaven and earth where you can find meaningful experiences both sacred and mundane.

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Woman enjoying stargazing under the night sky with million of stars and Milky Way at beautiful canyon on Atacama Desert in Chile. Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty

Atacama Desert
Chile

This 41,000-square-mile strip of land along the Pacific coast west of the Andes, punctuated by the Licancabur volcano, considered holy by the Atacameño people, is said to be the best place on Earth for stargazing. Its high altitude, absence of air and light pollution and cloud cover make it an astronomer's paradise even without a telescope. Centuries before the Europeans arrived, the Indigenous peoples here charted the sun, constellations and planets to navigate time and terrain.

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Uncharted: Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places: A Guide to the Most Sacred and Meaningful Destinations. Woman standing on Giants Causeway at sunset, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK Lauren Bath/Getty

Giant's Causeway
County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Legend has it these fantastic cliffs were built by a giant named Fionn Mac Cumhaill. According to geologists, the 40,000 interlocking columns are the result of a volcanic eruption 56–66 million years ago. As if the stone formations weren't wondrous enough, Giant's Causeway is also a protected nature reserve for plants and birds such as rare sea spleenwort, frog orchids, skylarks and linnets.

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A Navajo Grandmother Teaching Her Granddaughter The Tradition Of Weaving On An Old Weavers Loom, wearing their traditional Navajo dress. Getty

Hopi Reservation
Navajo and Coconino Counties, Arizona

On the reservation, once you travel a few minutes away from the commercial areas, time becomes irrelevant. The Orayvi mesa is one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements (1100 CE) in the Americas.

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Fall colors in New England. Shot taken at Walden Pond, MA. S.Petrova-Lazarova/Getty

Walden Pond
Concord, Massachusetts

A change to our personal environment can sometimes help healing, reorienting us toward our spiritual selves. Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau built his famous cabin here just three years after the death of his brother John—what biographers say was the greatest grief of his life. He wanted to partake of the "tonic of wildness." As he explained in his journal soon after his arrival, "If I am not quite right here, I am less wrong than before."

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Hill of crosses under blue sky with clouds, Kryziu kalnas, Lithuania. Getty

Hill of Crosses

Šiauliai, Lithuania

It's estimated there are over 100,000 crosses on this hill. Most are inscribed with names and prayers, spanning languages, nations and religions. Despite the Soviets repeatedly bulldozing the area during their occupation—1944 to 1990—Lithuanians left these crosses and other tokens here in peaceful protest. After regaining their independence, this testament to hope and resilience remained.

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The Kamppi Chapel is a Lutheran chapel in Kamppi, Helsinki, located on the Narinkka Square. It is also known as the Chapel of Silence since it is intended to be a place to calm down and have a moment of silence in one of the busiest areas in Finland. Izzet Keribar/Getty

Kamppi Chapel of Silence
Helsinki

A shopping center in the heart of a major city might not seem the most spiritual place, but this ecumenical chapel which looks a bit like an elegant alien spacecraft, is just that. It was built specifically for sitting in calm, quiet and reflection. When the Finnish Tourist Board explored what would attract visitors to the country, landscape, education and design were considered, but they landed on an entirely different resource: silence.

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Famous Rock-Hewn Church of Saint George - Bete Giyorgis in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Dimitry Chulov/Getty

Rock-Hewn Churches
Lalibela, Ethiopia

These 11 medieval cave churches hewn out of bedrock in the mountains are often described as "prayer in stone." Columns, windows and plumbing were later added to these remarkable red-stone 13th-century structures. Some contain corridors for ceremonial processions, or passageways to catacombs and hermit caves

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Turtle beach at Ras al-Jinz, Raz al Hadd, Oman. Franz Aberham/Getty

Rad al Hadd Turtle Reserve
Oman

Every April and August, green sea turtles migrate to these 28 miles of coastline. People migrate, too—to witness the miracle of some 50,000 eggs hatching. Like birds and honeybees, the hatchlings are guided by an inner compass on their path toward the sea. In Arab folklore, the turtle symbolizes patience, humility and persistence: traits that make up faith. Watch the hatchlings yourself, and you'll know why.

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Tigers Nest (Taktsang Goemba), Paro Valley, Bhutan. Peter Adams/Getty

Paro Taktsang Monastery
Paro Valley, Bhutan

The "Tiger's Nest" is perched on a cliff's edge, 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley. Its improbable, precarious construction contributes to the almost-visible magic of this holy Himalayan site. Buddhist master Padmasambhava, credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan in the 9th century, is said to have hidden texts and ritual objects amid the area's caves and lakes to be discovered and interpreted by tertons, or future "revealers."

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Northland Region North Island new Zealand. February 2007. The Waipoua Forest. Lush sub tropical forest with ferns, grasses, jungle and trees. Declared a sanctuary in 1952. Bought from Maori in 1876 for £2000. Over 200.000 visitors each year. Roger Mechan/Getty

Waipoua Forest
Hokianga, New Zealand

On the North Island, the country's largest remaining tract of native forest was declared a sanctuary in 1952. It is home to giant kauri trees, treasured by New Zealanders and especially the indigenous Māori. Two kauri stand out: God of the Forest is the largest of them all—nearly 11 stories tall; Father of the Forest is said to have been living for almost 3,000 years—the oldest tree in New Zealand and perhaps on Earth.


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Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places book jacket. CICO Books

From Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places: Discover the Wonder of Sacred and Meaningful Destinations by Alice Peck, published by CICO Books 2022