In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred place or shrine of importance to a person's beliefs and faith. Members of many major religions participate in pilgrimages. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.

Buddhism offers four sites of pilgr
Kapilavastu, the site where he attained Enlightenment Bodh Gaya, where he first preached at Benares, and where he achieved Parinirvana at Kusinagara.

The Holy Land acts as a focal point for the pilgrimages of many religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

In the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the visitation of certain ancient cult-centers was repressed in the 7th century BCE, when worship was restricted to YHWH at the temple in Jerusalem. In Syria, the shrine of Astarte at the headwater spring of the river Adonis survived until it was destroyed by order of Emperor ConstantineFact|date=February 2008 in the 4th century.

In mainland Greece, a stream of individuals made their way to Delphi or the oracle of Zeus at Dodona, and once every four years, at the period of the Olympic games, the temple of Zeus at Olympia formed the goal of swarms of pilgrims from every part of the Hellenic world. When Alexander the Great reached Egypt, he put his whole vast enterprise on hold, while he made his way with a small band deep into the Libyan desert, to consult the oracle of Ammun. During the imperium of his Ptolemaic heirs, the shrine of Isis at Philae received many votive inscriptions from Greeks on behalf of their kindred far away at home.

Although a pilgrimage is normally viewed in the context of religion, the personality cults cultivated by communist leaders ironically gave birth to pilgrimages of their own. Prior to the demise of the USSR in 1991, a visit to Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow can be said to have had all the characteristics exhibiting a pilgrimage — for Communists. This type of pilgrimage to a personality cult is still evident today on people who pay visits of homage to Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, and Ho Chi Minh.

Effects on trade

Pilgrims contributed an important element to long-distance trade before the modern era, and brought prosperity to successful pilgrimage sites, an economic phenomenon unequalled until the tourist trade of the 20th century. Encouraging pilgrims was a motivation for assembling (and sometimes fabricating) relics and for writing hagiographies of local saints, filled with inspiring accounts of miracle cures. Lourdes and other modern pilgrimage sites keep this spirit alive.

Pilgrimage centres in various times and cultures


Many ancient religions had holy sites, temples and groves, where pilgrimages were made.
* Karnak, Egypt.
* Thebes, Egypt.
* Kurukshetra, India
* Delphi, Greece. Oracle.
* Dodona, Epirus, Greece. Oracle.
* Ephesus Temple of Diana, Turkey.
* Baalbek Lebanon.
* Jerusalem, Israel.

Bahá'í Faith

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, decreed pilgrimage to two places in his book of laws, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, Iraq, and the House of the Báb in Shiraz, Iran. He, later, prescribed specific rites for each of these pilgrimages in two other religious texts. Later, `Abdu'l-Bahá designated the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji, Israel as a site of pilgrimage, for which there are no rites.cite encyclopedia |last= Smith |first= Peter |encyclopedia= A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith |title= Pilgrimage |year= 2000 |publisher=Oneworld Publications |location= Oxford |id= ISBN 1-85168-184-1 |pages= p. 269]

Since Bahá'ís do not have access to the original two places designated as sites for pilgrimage, Bahá'í pilgrimage currently consists of visiting the holy places in Haifa, Acre, and Bahjí at the Bahá'í World Centre in Northwest Israel. Bahá'ís can apply to join an organized nine-day pilgrimage where they are taken to visit the various holy sites, or attend a shorter three-day pilgrimage.


Gautama Buddha spoke of the four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers to visit: [The Buddha mentions these four pilgrimage sites in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta. See, for instance, Thanissaro (1998) [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.5-6.than.html#pilgrim] and Vajira & Story (1998) [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html#t-42] .]

* Lumbini: birth place (in Nepal)
* Bodh Gaya: place of Enlightenment
* Sarnath: (formally Isipathana) where he delivered his first teaching
* Kusinara: (now Kusinagar, India) where he attained mahaparinirvana (died).

Other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are: Savatthi, Pataliputta, Nalanda, Gaya, Vesali, Sankasia, Kapilavastu, Kosambi, Rajagaha, Varanasi.

Other famous places for buddhist pilgrimage in various countries include:
*India: Sanchi, Ellora, Ajanta.
*Thailand: Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Doi Suthep.
*Tibet: Lhasa (traditional home of the Dalai Lama), Mount Kailash, Lake Nam-tso.
*Cambodia: Angkor Wat, Silver Pagoda.
*Sri Lanka: Polonnaruwa, Temple of the Tooth (Kandy), Anuradhapura.
*Laos: Luang Prabang.
*Myanmar: Bagan, Sagaing Hill.
*Nepal: Bodhnath, Swayambhunath.
*Indonesia: Borobudur.
*China: Yung-kang, Lung-men caves. The Four Sacred Mountains
*Japan: Kansai Kannon Pilgrimage, Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, Shikoku Pilgrimage, Mount Kōya.


Pilgrimages were first made to sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the 4th century, when pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers like Saint Jerome. Pilgrimages also began to be made to Rome and other sites associated with the Apostles, Saints and Christian martyrs, as well as to places where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The crusades to the holy land were considered to be mass armed pilgrimages.

The second largest single pilgrimage in the history of Christendom was to the Funeral of Pope John Paul II after his death on April 2, 2005.Fact|date=February 2008 An estimated four million people travelled to Vatican City, in addition to the almost three million people already living in Rome, to see the body of Pope John Paul II lie in state.

World Youth Day is a major Catholic Pilgrimage, specifically for people aged 16-35. It is held internationally every 2-3 years. In 2005, young Catholics visited Cologne, Germany. In 1995, the largest gathering of all time was to World Youth Day in Manila, Philippines, where four million people from all over the world attended.

The major Christian pilgrimages are to:
*The Holy Land, location of many events in the Old Testament and New Testament:
** Jerusalem, site of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.
** Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus and King David.
** Nazareth, hometown of Jesus
** Sea of Galilee, site of Jesus' early ministry.
** Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration
** Bethany, site of the resurrection of Lazarus
* Rome on roads such as the Via Francigena. Site of the deaths of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and other early martyrs. Location of relics of various saints, relics of the Passion, important churches and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.
* Constantinople (today Istanbul, Turkey). Former capital of the Byzantine Empire and the see of one of the five ancient Patriarchates and first among equals among the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Hagia Sophia, former cathedral and burial place of many Ecumenical Patriarchs.
* Lourdes, France. Apparition of the Virgin Mary. The second most visited Christian pilgrimage site after Rome.
* Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain) on the Way of St James ( _gl. O Camiño de Santiago). This famous medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James is still popular today.
* Fátima in Portugal. Our Lady of Fatima is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to three shepherd children at Fátima on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917.


Hindus are required to undertake pilgrimages during their lifetime. Most Hindus who can afford to go on such journeys travel to numerous sites described in the following list.

The last four sites in the list together comprise the Chardham, or four holy pilgrimage destinations. It is believed that travelling to these places leads to moksha, the release from samsara (cycle of rebirths). The holy places of pilgrimage for the Shaktism sect of Hinduism are the "Shakti peethas" (Temples of Shakti).


The pilgrimage to Mecca – the "Hajj" – is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It should be attempted at least once in the lifetime of all able-bodied Muslims who can afford to do so. It is the most important of all Muslim Pilgrimages, and is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. [cite book|title=Atlas of Holy Places & Sacred Sites|author=Colin Wilson|isbn=978-0789410511|publisher=DK Adult|date=1996|page=29]

Many Muslims also undergo ziyarat, which is a pilgrimage to sites associated with the prophet Muhammad, his companions, or other venerated figures in Islamic history, such as Shi'a imams or Sufi saints. Sites of pilgrimage include mosques, graves, battlefields, mountains, and caves.

Local Pilgrimage traditions - those undertaken as ziarah visits to local graves, are also found throughout Muslim countries. In some countries, the grave sites of heroes have very strong ziyarah traditions as visiting the graves at auspicious times is a display of national and community identity. Some traditions within Islam have negative attitudes towards grave visiting.

The third religiously sanctioned pilgrimage for Muslims is to the Al Quds mount in Jerusalem which hosts Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

Another important place for Muslims are the city of Medina, the second holiest place in Islam, in Saudi Arabia, where Muhammad rests, in Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet); and the district of Eyüp in Istanbul (fourth holiest place) is where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari ( _tr. Eyüp Sultan), the standard-bearer of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, died during the Arab assault on Constantinople in 670.


"See related article Three pilgrim festivals".

Within Judaism, the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish religion, until its destruction in 70 CE, and all adult men who were able were required to visit and offer sacrifices known as the "korbanot", particularly during Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Following the destruction of the Second Temple and the onset of the diaspora, the centrality of pilgrimage to Jerusalem in Judaism was discontinued. In its place came prayers and rituals hoping for a return to Zion and the accompanying restoration of regular pilgrimages (see "Jerusalem, Jews and Judaism").

Until recent centuries, pilgrimage has been a fairly difficult and arduous adventure. But now, Jews from many countries make periodic pilgrimages to the holy sites of their religion.

The western retaining wall of the original temple, known as the Wailing Wall, or Western Wall remains in the Old City of Jerusalem and this has been the most sacred site for religious Jews. Pilgrimage to this area was off-limits from 1948 to 1967, when East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan.

Some Reform and Conservative Jews who no longer consider themselves exiles, still enjoy visiting Israel even if it is not an official "pilgrimage."

=Secular pilgr

In modern usage, the terms "pilgrim" and "pilgrimage" can also have a somewhat devalued meaning as they are often applied in a secular context. For example, fans of Elvis Presley may choose to visit his home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. Similarly one may refer to a cultural center such as Venice as a "tourist Mecca".


In a number of Communist contries, secular pilgrimages were established as an "antidote" to religious pilgrimages, the most famous of which are:

*USSR: Mausoleum of Lenin in Red Square, Moscow
*PRC: Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square, Beijing
*Germany: Birthplace of Karl Marx, Trier


The mausoleum of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini in Predappio, Italy serves as a pilgrmage site for Italian Neo-Fascists.

See also

* Burial places of founders of world religions
* Junrei
* Monastery
* Most Holy Place
* Romeria
* Pilgrim
* World Youth Day


Further reading

* al-Naqar, Umar. 1972. "The Pilgrimage Tradition in West Africa." Khartoum: Khartoum University Press. [includes a map 'African Pilgrimage Routes to Mecca, ca. 1300-1900']
* Coleman, Simon and John Elsner (1995), "Pilgr

* Coleman, Simon & John Eade (eds) (2005), "Reframing Pilgrimage. Cultures in Motion." London: Routledge.
* Jackowski, Antoni. 1998. "Pielgrzymowanie" [Pilgrimage] . Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Dolnoslaskie.
* Margry, Peter Jan (ed.) (2008), "Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World. New Itineraries into the Sacred." Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
* Sumption, Jonathan. 2002. "Pilgr

* Wolfe, Michael (ed.). 1997. "One Thousands Roads to Mecca." New York: Grove Press.
* Zarnecki, George (1985), The Monastic World: The Contributions of The Orders. pp. 36-66, in Evans, Joan (ed.). 1985. "The Flowering of the Middle Ages." London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.


*Kerschbaum & Gattinger, Via Francigena - DVD- Documentation, of a modern pilgrimage to Rome, ISBN 3200005009, Verlag EUROVIA, Vienna 2005

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  • Pilgrimage — Pil grim*age, n. [OE. pilgrimage, pelgrinage; cf. F. p[ e]lerinage.] 1. The journey of a pilgrim; a long journey; especially, a journey to a shrine or other sacred place. Fig., the journey of human life. Shak. [1913 Webster] The days of the years …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pilgrimage — (n.) mid 13c., pelrimage; see PILGRIM (Cf. pilgrim) + AGE (Cf. age) …   Etymology dictionary

  • pilgrimage — *journey, voyage, tour, trip, jaunt, excursion, cruise, expedition …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • pilgrimage — [n] long journey crusade, excursion, expedition, mission, tour, travel, trip, wayfaring; concept 224 Ant. jaunt …   New thesaurus

  • pilgrimage — ► NOUN ▪ a pilgrim s journey …   English terms dictionary

  • pilgrimage — [pil′grə mij] n. [ME pilgrymage < OFr pelegrinage < pelegrin,PILGRIM] 1. a journey made by a pilgrim, esp. to a shrine or holy place 2. any long journey, as to a place of historical interest …   English World dictionary

  • pilgrimage — /pil greuh mij/, n., v., pilgrimaged, pilgrimaging. n. 1. a journey, esp. a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: a pilgrimage to Lourdes. 2. Islam. a. the Pilgrimage, hajj. b. umrah. 3. any long journey, esp. one… …   Universalium

  • pilgrimage — Traditional pilgrimage practices, having all but ceased to exist during the Cultural Revolution, re emerged in the 1980s. In addition, new forms of pilgrimage to sites associated with CCP history and the revolution that appeared following the… …   Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture

  • PILGRIMAGE — In Hebrew the term aliyah (lit. going up ) has been used since ancient times for pilgrimages to Jerusalem on the three festivals known as shalosh regalim). The Torah prescribes that all males must go up to Jerusalem three timesa year on the three …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • pilgrimage — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ annual ▪ religious, spiritual VERB + PILGRIMAGE ▪ go on, make ▪ She made a pilgrimage to visit the place where h …   Collocations dictionary

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