- Posted February 18, 2014 by
The San Michele Sanctuary included in National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Sacred Caves in the world
A Puglia sanctuary recently included in National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Sacred Caves in the world.
The San Michele Sanctuary, on the Gargano promontory, was already one of Italy’s premier pilgrimage spots, and the inclusion in the prestigious travel magazine’s list should help turn it into a popular international tourism destination as well.
The Sanctuary itself dates back to the 5th century, and the original spot is said to have been consecrated by the Archangel Michael himself, making it the only church not consecrated by human hands. During the Middle Ages, it also became an important stop in the pilgrimage road connecting Mont St Michel, in France, Piemonte’s La Sacra de San Michele monastery, San Michele Sanctuary in Monte Sant’Angelo and, often, Jerusalem – a position it retains to this day.
Nowadays, the spot comprises the original cave, plus a crypt, a devotional museum, and a 13th century bell tower. The cave itself is accessed through an 11th century door engraved with frescoes depicting Biblical scenes. Entry is free, but visits to both the sanctuary and the two museums underneath it – the Lapidary Museum, in the crypts, and the one containing artefacts relating to Archangel Michael – must be arranged beforehand.
Other entries in the National Geographic list of Top 10 Sacred Caves include another Italian destination, the shrine of St. Paul, as well as the Minoan caves in Crete, St. Paul’s Grotto in Malta, the Sof Omar caves in Ethiopia, the Font-de-Gaume grotto in France, the Actun Tunichil Muknal in Belize, the Elephanta caves in the Indian island of Gharapuri, the Longmen caves in China, the Dambulla cave in Sri Lanka and the Corycian caves in Greece. The list, recently published to National Geographic’s website, was taken from the tie-in book Sacred Places Of A Lifetime.