Cities without landmarks
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
Most modern places of pilgrimage didn’t take off until medieval times or later, but the impulse to hit the road in search of a transformative experience is an ancient one. There is nearly always a magical or religious element: time off in purgatory, healing miracles, increased luck in love, seeing the future, or payback for answered prayers. (Of course, for the destinations, it’s also an ancient form of marketing that brings in funds from near and far.) Still, many pilgrims are equally motivated by the secular and social aspects of the journey — the rituals, physical challenge, communal spirit along the way, and most of all (as Chaucer’s 14th-century “Canterbury Tales” captured so well), the exchange of stories.
For every Mecca, Lourdes, Fatima and Bodh Gaya, there are hundreds of smaller, lesser-known sites around the world. That they are often quirky and surreal — and draw a modern-day cast of characters diverse and colorful enough for countless tales — is all part of the pilgrimage construct. These 14 places run the gamut, from mountaintops to a lotus flower behemoth to a tiny chapel dedicated to dogs.
You can find many more places of pilgrimage on Trazzler.
Every Sunday, Salon presents a feature from Trazzler spotlighting surprising travel stories from across the globe. Unexpected discoveries and strange, wonderful treasures are condensed into slide shows that entertain as much as they educate.