Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East
If the only temple mount that comes to mind when the topic is broached is Jerusalem, you may be surprised to learn that these sacred summits are everywhere. Some are small, humble temples atop mountain peaks that are so sacred worshippers climbing to the top risk being cursed. Others attract pilgrims as eager to see ancient architecture as they are to worship. If you plan to visit one or more temple mounts, knowing their size will help you plan ahead so you wear the correct clothing and shoes.
England is the site of a cone-shaped hill and 14th-century church tower that have attracted Catholic pilgrims since medieval times. At 521 feet high, Glastonbury Tor’s St. Michael’s Tower remains a destination for pilgrimages.
One million tourists and penitents visit the Mount Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland, annually. Many of them climb to the temple mount's summit in bare feet while praying the Stations of the Cross. The summit is 213 feet high, or about 254 feet above sea level.
Portugal is an effective starting place when touring temple mounts in Europe. Bom Jesus do Monte in Northern Portugal is home to a lavishly appointed Baroque Basilica perched 133 feet above sea level, though visitors climb a 381-foot high double staircase called the Sacred Way to reach the top of the basilica during Holy Week.
Rome’s Capitoline Hill, considered the most sacred of the city’s Seven Hills, is a 230-foot climb. Visitors experience remnants of the Roman religious citadel used to pay homage to gods and goddesses.
The Holy Land’s most famous temple mount, found in the Old City, is the site of Jerusalem’s temple mount. It rises about 2,400 feet above sea level, and excavations regularly set new base height measurements. The Western or Wailing Wall stands 60 feet high, a measurement not in dispute.
Jordan’s Mount Nebo, the mountain that allowed Moses to see the promised land, is another important temple mount for believers. The 3,300-foot mountain is as sacred to Christians as it is to Muslims.
The Holy Land includes the 7th-century Monastery of the Transfiguration atop Mount Tabor. The temple mount looms about 167 feet over the Jezreel Valley and was a prime destination for religious crusaders for many centuries.
Wearing sturdy shoes may be wise when climbing China’s sacred Emei Shan temple mount in Sichuan. Rising about 1,033 feet, the Buddhist holy place is bout 333 feet higher than comparable sites, and it’s designated a World Heritage Site.
Taoists find the temple mount at China’s Song Shan equally sacred. Located near the city of Luoyyang, Song Shan is about 500 feet high and sits amid 70 pikes. Another important Taoist temple mount in China is the 5,000-foot high Tai Shan in Shandong. Twenty-two temples are on the mount.
Nearby, Tibet’s Mount Kailash is sacred to many faiths. At 22,028 feet, the peak is so sacred that pilgrims can be accused of sacrilege if they don’t limit their worship to walking around the base. Believers state that walking 108 revolutions around the base wipes away a lifetime of sins.
At 12,388 feet high, the temple mount at Fuji is in Chuba but can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Sacred to members of the Shinto faith, Mount Fuji is home to the goddess Sengen-Sama, but the summit also is considered a sacred being with a soul.
Bali, Indonesia, is the site of Mount Agung, home to Besakih Temple. One of the most sacred places in Bali, it is 10,308 feet high and the only temple mount that allows members of any caste to worship.