There are countless historical remains on the European continent. What’s more, history often goes hand in hand with religion, which undeniably leaves traces where people go. Whether religious or pagan beliefs, they have spawned the construction of buildings or ritual sites. Most have very mysterious origins, making them emblematic spiritual and sacred places in Europe.
- 1. The Great Meteor
- 2. Saint-Michel-de-la-Cluse Abbey
- 3. The megaliths of Ale
- 4. Avebury
- 5. The castle of Queribus
- 6. The Man-an-Tol
- 7. The menhir of Saint-Uzec
- 8. Agia Anna Cloister
1. The Great Meteor
Located in Greece, it is the oldest monastery still in operation today. It culminates at more than 500 meters above sea level, the only access being materialized by stairs carved into the rock. The monastery owes its name to the rock formation on which it is perched, called “the Meteora”. Other Orthodox Christian buildings surround it, but this is the largest of them. The whole has also been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1988. If the rock has been dug due to erosion, local dogmas lean towards a divine gift fallen from the sky.
2. Saint-Michel-de-la-Cluse Abbey
It’s hard to believe, but it is only 10 kilometers from the big city of Turin, Italy. It rises above the summit of Mount Pichiriano, offering an incomparable panorama of the Italian landscapes. This mountain is right on the via Francigena , the route of pilgrims who wanted to get to Rome in the 10th century. Later, Prince Eugene of Savoy was granted authority over the abbey. The bodies of the members of the royal family rest in peace in this magnificent building. If you feel like discovering the living conditions of the monks, it is possible to reserve a cell there for one night.
3. The megaliths of Ale
At the edge of the Baltic Sea, imposing stones stand on Swedish territory. In all, there are 59 rocks of 1800 kilograms which form a teardrop due to their very precise alignment. The date of their placement remains a mystery, but scientists believe they have been there since the Iron Age. Local folklore believes that these megaliths are guardians of the tomb of King Ale the Strong, a Scandinavian king who marked the culture of northern Europe. In fact, they raise many questions that remain unanswered.
Not far from Stonehenge, Avebury is also a Neolithic site. The megaliths that compose it form a cromlech, that is to say a monument forming an enclosure thanks to a specific alignment of rocks. It is the largest in Europe, barely older than the Stonehenge site. They both date from around -2000 BC . Stonehedge, Avebury and associated properties form a UNESCO World Heritage site.
5. The castle of Queribus
In Cucugnan in the Aude, this very beautiful medieval castle stands proudly from the top of its incomparable strategic position. Indeed, the panorama it offers extends over an entire valley without a single obstacle obstructing the view. The inhabitants of Quéribus could even anticipate the arrival of enemies by sea. The castle was also an important place during the Crusades: it was the last territory to have been conquered by the Knights of Saint Louis in 1255.
6. The Man-an-Tol
Like many others, this alignment of stones located in Great Britain is unique. It consists of three stones, one of which is perforated in its center. It is thought to come from a dolmen where it served as a gateway for the passage of souls. But there is another theory that there were altogether 20 menhirs arranged around the pierced stone. By looking through it in the direction of the menhirs, this made it possible to carry out precise astronomical observations.
7. The menhir of Saint-Uzec
Not far from a chapel of the same name in Brittany, the menhir of Saint-Uzec is impressive to see. It measures almost 8 meters in height and weighs 80 tons. Its top is decorated with a cross and engravings. It is therefore a Christian building since you can see a representation of Christ on the cross. What is certain is that it does not date from yesterday since it would have been built between -5000 and -2000 BC. Since 1889, this immense menhir has been one of the historical monuments of France.
8. Agia Anna Cloister
Or the Skete Agia Anna, a place of worship occupied by just under 100 monks on the cliffs of Mount Athos in Greece. It belongs to the Megisti Lavra monastery, or the Great Lavra of Athos, and dates from the 16th century. Access is reserved for male pilgrims who wish to rest and isolate themselves to devote themselves to prayer before resuming their journey.
There are a host of emblematic spiritual and sacred places in Europe that are probably much better known than these. But this was an opportunity to discover some that you may not have known!