August 16, 2023

Patheos Reveals Top 10 Most Sacred Spaces, with Temple Mount Taking No. 1 Spot

Multifaith initiative celebrates sacred sites significant to multiple world religions, culminating in Temple Mount, the Great Mosque of Mecca and Mount Sinai

Patheos has announced the conclusion of its multifaith initiative titled "Sacred Spaces: The 100 Most Holy Places on Earth." Showcasing a curation of locations significant to major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, the ranking reveals the top 10 most holy sites on Earth.

"Selecting only 100 of the most holy places on Earth was the most challenging aspect of this initiative because there are so many sacred sites around the world. We could have easily included 500 additional sites filled with meaning," said Travis Henry, senior director of content at Patheos.

Temple Mount (including the Dome of the Rock) takes the No. 1 spot in the Patheos ranking. Located in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount has a rich history that spans multiple faiths. Perhaps no other sacred site in the history of the world has had such important meaning to those of such different traditions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Each year, the Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount sees over 5,000,000 visitors who make the pilgrimage to connect with each other and their faith. Joining this sacred space in the ranking are the top 10 sites around the world, all of which are open to some degree to visitors and tell distinct histories from a variety of faith communities:

  • Great Mosque of Mecca: Located in the city of Mecca in southwest Saudi Arabia, this site is open exclusively to Muslims and sees over 15 million visitors annually.
  • Mount Sinai: Located on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, this location is sacred in different ways to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
  • River Ganges: Flowing through many cities throughout India and Bangladesh, the river is significant primarily to Hinduism.
  • Sri Harmandir Sahib: The Golden Temple: Located in Amritsar, India, this is the flagship temple of Sikhism.
  • The Mount of Olives: Located in Jerusalem, Israel, this mountain ridge is sacred to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
  • Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Located in Jerusalem, Israel, this church is sacred to denominations of Christianity, including Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and others.
  • Sistine Chapel: Located in Vatican City, Italy, this site is considered holy in Roman Catholicism.
  • Mahabodhi Temple: Located in the Gaya District of India, this temple is mainly significant to the Buddhist faith.
  • The Wailing Wall: Located in Jerusalem, Israel, this site is officially an Orthodox Jewish synagogue but has significance in Christianity as well.

The full ranking was assembled by combining a unique algorithm analyzing multiple data points such as online searches and real-time foot traffic and insights from religious scholars, leaders and writers from diverse faiths. Patheos worked closely with renowned world religion expert Alonzo L. Gaskill, Ph.D., to ensure an authentic and insightful exploration of each sacred location throughout the ranking. His approach considered multiple factors and parameters, including the number of faiths attributing sacred or holy status to each site.

"This collection of sacred spaces represents some of the most significant holy sites throughout religions around the world," said Dr. Gaskill. "Importantly, many of these sites have significance in multiple traditions—particularly in places like India, where Hindus, Buddhists and Jains often worship at the same sites, or the Holy Land, where Jews, Christians and Muslims each reverence many of the same sacred spaces. This ranking offers something for everyone, from the simply curious to the religiously devout."

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