You don’t have to have strong spiritual beliefs to enjoy a visit to a house of worship or a spiritual site. Virtually all religious sites allow travellers to enjoy the sanctuary space as long as they are respectful.
I think that churches, cathedrals and other houses of worship offer a special insight into the beliefs and culture of a country. If you want to experience world famous art, reflect on the lives of princes, poets, and politicians or simply have a moment of personal reflection, you will enjoy visiting a house of worship. They are also of interest for those who love to connect with local culture, revel in architectural wonders or are just interested in local history.
For many travellers, visiting a house of worship is a deeply personal occasion. Some people are seeking spiritual guidance and comfort and others are looking to renew and enhance their faith. Travellers of all different beliefs cross the globe to visit those locations that are meaningful to their faiths.
For me, any opportunity to travel is an opportunity to connect to people of different cultures, faiths, and ways of life. Visiting a house of worship helps facilitate that connection and I always welcome the chance to learn more about different religious backgrounds.
I also love how houses of worship are gatekeepers of history, art, literature, and architecture. When I learn the history of a house of worship, I’m really getting to know a city, it’s people, and it’s community.
In some cases, houses of worship welcome as many tourists as they do worshippers. While you might be surrounded by hoards of tour groups, always remember:
- You are in a sacred site. Be Respectful. You don’t have to agree with or condone the place of worship you are visiting, but you should be respectful for the way others worship.
- Be Sincere. Visit a church because you sincerely want to learn about the building or know what they believe and practice, not because you want to mock and ridicule their faith.
- Dress modestly. If you are unsure as to what is appropriate attire follow the rule that covering more of your body is always more appropriate than covering less.
- Respect signs indicating photography rules.
- Don’t take photos during a service.
- Keep your voice down. Try not to interrupt those visiting for religious purposes.
“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” – Khalil Gibran