Every year, millions of tourists from around the world travel to Greece to experience its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes. But many miss Greece for what it really is: one of the world’s most sacred destinations.
To experience this hidden side of Greece, travellers must dig deep into their own spirituality and explore the country through a pilgrim’s eyes. This means looking beyond the surface of its magnificent ruins and spectacular vistas to connect with the land’s sacred essence.
When this happens, the true nature of Greece (and of the traveller!) are exposed. What makes Greece such a perfect destination for a spiritual journey?
1. Its ancient sites are imbued with sacredness
Greece is home to hundreds of sacred sites, including temples and shrines that have housed sacred rituals and attracted pilgrims from around the world for millennia.
A few of these ancient sites, like the Acropolis of Athens and the Parthenon, have become common tourist destinations, while others are away from the large crowds.
Places like Agora, Delphi, the Temple of Apollo, the 13th century monastic site of Mystra and the ancient citadel of Mycenae are just a few of the many sites where sacredness is palpable for those willing to feel it.
2. Greece is home to sacred mythology
Greece is full of mythology. Ancient stories of ancient Gods and Goddesses, of Love and War, and of human triumph and failure are deeply weaved into Greece’s culture and continue to shape the country today as they did over two thousand years ago.
When you visit Greece you stand on the soil where The Myth of Atlantis was born, where Zeus’s successful battle against his father Cronus was first imagined, and where the Goddess Aphrodite’s origins continue to be fiercely debated.
To this day, images of the Gods and Goddesses remain on walls, artifacts, and in the museums of this inspiring country.
3. Greeks still hold a sacred connection to the land
Throughout history, Greeks have always maintained a sacred connection with the land.
Like in many other cultures, sacred mountains, rivers, and hills dot the country, providing excellent places for spiritual introspection.
But the sacred connection to land goes beyond that. Ancient Greek doctors, for instance, turned to nature rather than appealing to the Gods when treating patients. They used ingredients that are still commonly found in our home today: vinegar, garlic, honey and so on to treat sicknesses.
Today, nature is still an important aspect of any visit to Greece. Its beautiful Mediterranean climate, its abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, its quality olive oils and its stunning vistas, from seascapes to forests and mountains, make Greece an ideal destination for any pilgrim hoping to connect with themselves through nature.
4. Much of Modern Culture is Traced To Greece
Many of the key concepts that shape our daily lives around the world can be traced back to Ancient Greece.
Things like democracy, sport, philosophy, cuisine, art, and mythology all originated from this land, and continue to fill it with their presence. Tracing these ideas back to a specific time and place allow us to reconnect with their original values, giving them new meaning and importance.
5. Greece allows us to imagine a different world
Ancient Greece was home to the Temple of Zeus, which housed the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. While the statue was destroyed during the 5th Century AD, we can still imagine it today.
Imagining the past whenever you visit a new location is a part of seeing a place through a pilgrim’s eyes. It allows you to connect with a place’s hidden past, and in turn allows you to reconnect with a deeper version of your own Self, which is the most enduring characteristic of any pilgrimage.
3 Ways to Make Your Next Trip A Spiritual One
1. Be open to experiencing the sacred
It’s up to you to open your mind and allow yourself to experience a place with a pilgrim’s eye. To do this, you must be ready to connect with the place and with yourself on a deeper level, constantly asking questions about the past, present, and future.
2. Be self-reflective during your journey
The key to any spiritual journey is to constantly reflect on your thoughts and feelings throughout your trip. Keeping a journal in which you write down what you see and how you feel is a great way to make your experience more spiritual.
3. Travel with us.
Join author, filmmaker, and teacher Phil Cousineau on a breathtaking pilgrimage through Crete’s most spectacular sacred sites on Mythic Crete with Phil Cousineau and Georgios Spiradakis –
A Ten-Day Tour to the Legendary Island of Light will run from April 9 – 18, 2019. As always, this will be a journey full of visits to sacred sites, culture, fine cuisine, storytelling and engaging conversation.