With so many people now using holidays as a time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect, it’s no surprise that there’s been a sharp rise in the numbers of ‘spiritual tourists.’ Rather than seeking out the best beaches, most extreme sports or wildest nightlife, these travellers want to explore cities with a deeper connection to the world’s greatest religions – some established for centuries, some relatively recently emerging. If you’re interested in seeking a deeper meaning on your next venture abroad, these are three of the most fascinating cities.
The general approach to spiritual affairs in Japan differs somewhat to many other nations – well over half the country’s population identifies as non-religious, with the indigenous religion, Shinto, more akin to a collection of customs and folklore than a series of prescriptive teachings and beliefs. Instead, this largely secular society draws disparate elements from a number of religions to form a truly unique way of life. Kyoto, the former Imperial capital of Japan, is a testament to this eclectic approach. The city offers a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and the meditative mood is reflected in the number of historical religious sites. The Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines are sacred places in the Shinto religion, while the Tō-ji temple is one of the most iconic Buddhist temples in the world, along with the similarly recognisable Daigo-ji. There’s also Ryōan-ji, a prime example of a kare-sansui, or Zen Buddhist garden.
Salt Lake City, USA
The capital of Utah, Salt Lake City is the spiritual home of the Mormon religion. In the ten-acre Temple Square you’ll find the stunning, 120 year old Salt Lake Temple, as well as the domed Salt Lake Tabernacle and the Salt Lake Assembly Hall. In addition to the religion’s prominence in the city – about half of the population are Mormons – SLC is also well known for its quality of life and range of facilities for outdoor activities, having hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002. Last year saw the opening of a shopping centre and property development downtown, City Creek Center, providing another boost to the city.
The spiritual capital of India on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is the holiest place in the country for both Hindus and Jains. It’s also one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with records going back over 3,000 years. Those looking to cleanse their sins can do so in the sacred water of the river, while the holiday of Deva Diwali sees the water filled with thousands of floating candles. The stone steps leading down to the river are busy all year round with over three million visitors to the city, but the neighbourhoods to the north of the city are quieter and less hectic.
The often slower pace of living and more contemplative atmosphere present in these cities makes them ideal locations for a second home, or even as potential retirement destinations. Engel & Völkers can help you to find the perfect property in a wide range of international locations, using decades of expertise combined with intimate local knowledge. So if you’re interested in investing in property anywhere overseas, talk to us or visit our website for more information.