There is this saying that to travel is to renew the soul. If we examine the motives of our wanderlust closely, we will realise that our need to explore the world is closely woven with a desire to explore the rich cultures and beliefs of others. Viewed this way, every city on Earth has its own spiritual meaning anchoring its history of existence. But some destinations articulate their spiritual identity right down to their names. Below are five heavenly themed cities every spiritual nomad should explore.
#1. Mont Saint-Michel, France
Nestled on the sandbanks between Normandy and Brittany, this UNESCO World Heritage Centre doubles as a bustling tourist attraction. Built on a sacred mount by monks in the 10th century, the islet is dedicated to the archangel Michael, or Michel as referred to in French. What’s breathtaking about Benedictine abbey is its Gothic-style fortresses, each a symbol of pride that France has worn since withstanding English attacks in the Hundred Years’ War in the 14th and 15th centuries.Houses of villagers who had lived within Mont Saint-Michel’s walls over the course of history have since been converted to hotels and quaint shops, making the islet a perfect representation of ‘old meets new’.
#2. San Gabriel, Los Angeles
One of the most historical postcodes in Los Angeles, San Gabriel was named after the Spaniardfounded site Mission San Gabriel. The city’s origin is traced in the ancient worshipping of Gabriel,the archangel responsible for communication and artistry in Abrahamic faiths. Even the Native American tribe, Tongva, which had lived in the region prior to Spanish colonisation was colloquially referred to as Gabrieleño. On to some artistic self-discovery? There is plenty of history and rich stucco-style architecture to bask in here!
#3. Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
God of thunder, Thor might be the epitome of roarous might in Norse mythology, but he is the undying apple of Tórshavn’s eye. With a name directly translating into “Thor’s harbor”, Tórshavn is the best place to be to indulge in Viking history and folklore. Not only that, you would set yourself for what will seem like an endless indulgence of awe thanks to the city’s crisp panorama and tundra coolness.
#4. Athens, Greece
Named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athens is ever the poster city for spiritual grace and reverence. Athena was chosen as the city’s mascot, after her purported victory against Poseidon, god of the seas. There are many sacred sites to explore here, from the relic-rich Acropolis (said to have been touched by the hands of Athena herself) to the monument-dense Agora. One thing’s for sure: you will definitely be well-versed in Greek mythology after your visit.
#5. Odense, Denmark
A picture of perfection expected of Danish landscapes, Odense was inspired and named after Thor’s father Odin (the Norse equivalent of Zeus). But Norse legends are not only the source of historical precedence here. The city is also known as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author responsible for globally celebrated fairy tales such as The Snow Queen,Thumbelina and The Little Mermaid. To enjoy Odense maximumly is to take delight in its offering of dreamy museums, children’s centres, countless playgrounds, and monuments central in Christensen’s stories. In short: the city is a great place to renew your inner child or, if you’re a parent, bond with your children.