Reference Points

The Smart Traveler

January 04, 2009|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations

National Geographic, $40

There are many definitions of the word sacred. For this book, the staff of National Geographic defines it as "those places that channel the wisdom of the ages, of far-flung cultures, and unique perspectives." The "Sacred Landscapes" chapter, for example, visits serene Crater Lake in Oregon and the mysterious Mount Ararat in Turkey, but also otherworldly Devils Tower in Wyoming and the basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Other chapters explore megaliths and stone circles (Machu Picchu in Peru, Stonehenge in England) and pilgrimage sites (the Western Wall and Holy Sepulchre Church in Israel and the Hajj in Saudi Arabia), ceremonies and festivals (Day of the Dead in Mexico, the Passion Play in Germany and Easter Mass in Vatican City), remembrances (Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Ground Zero in New York ) and retreats (Findhorn and Iona in Scotland).

Some of the most striking images, though, are of lesser-known sites, such as the soaring red brick temples scattered through the jungle in Myanmar. The editors also include their 10-best lists: 10 sacred mountains, 10 mosaic interiors, 10 New England churches, 10 stained-glass windows and 10 sacred gardens.

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