Celebrate December with a Christmas pilgrimage
By Aimee Heckel
If you’re looking for a way to make this year’s Christmas vacation feel more meaningful, and connect with Christmas’s history, a religious pilgrimage may be just what you need.
Some of the most beautiful, interesting places in the world are also sites for Christian pilgrimages. Plan a trip to one of these culturally rich places this winter, as a unique way to celebrate Christmas.
Here are three popular Christian pilgrimages:
1. Vatican City, Rome
This home of the pope is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world. While you’re there, visit St. Peter’s Basilica (the world’s largest Catholic church), St. Peter’s Square, the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo’s Pieta, the tomb of John Paul II, the tomb of St. Peter, the beautiful gardens and the fascinating museums. Grab a bite to eat at the Ristorante dei Musei Vaticani. There’s not much more delicious than Italian food — in Italy.
Set up a day tour of the Vatican or other sites if you want to make your trip educational. The Vatican Private Tour Guide has great ratings on TripAdvisor.
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2. Mount Sinai, Egypt
This desert destination is where Moses receives the Ten Commandments in the Bible, which makes it a popular destination for pilgrims, particularly at sunrise. Below the mountain, visit the ancient St. Catherine’s Monastery.
Although the view from the Holy Mountains can be stunning, always check travel advisories to make sure it’s safe for Americans to travel to Egypt. Some travelers believe a safer destination in Egypt is the Red Sea resorts, such as the Hurghada Marriott.
3. Santiago de Compostela, Spain
This Spanish city is home to a large Catholic church that is believed to bear the remains of apostle James. The city also has multiple religious museums, including the Cathedral Museum and the Museum of the Galician People.
Note: The classic pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela takes six weeks. You can typically find plenty of inexpensive hostels along the way.
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