We are very pleased to see that Belize’s Actun Tunichil Muknal is on the top of the list of National Geographic’s Top 10 Sacred Caves. The list is published in the National Geographic book Sacred Places of a Lifetime.
This inspirational book showcases 500 of the world's most powerful and spiritual places—and guides modern-day travelers to and around them. From prehistoric burial chambers to modern monuments and sanctuaries, each site's history, lore, and appeal is evocatively detailed.
Nearly 300 locator maps point out pilgrimage routes, temples, mountains, churches, and holy places. This beautiful book answers the call of the spiritual traveler while also appealing to the many readers interested in sites of unique cultural heritage.
1. Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize
In myths, journeys to the underworld are never easy, and after visiting Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulchre), you may feel that you have been through your own epic test. Access to the Maya sacrificial site within the cave involves hiking, wading, and underwater swimming, but nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) underground you will reach the resting place of the “crystal maiden,” a complete female skeleton that sparkles from eons of crystal calcification. The cave also contains Maya pottery shards, many showing the “kill hole” intended to allow spirits to escape.
2. Elephanta Caves, Gharapuri Island, India
3. Longmen Caves, China
4. Dambulla Cave, Sri Lanka
5. Corycian Cave, Greece
6. Bronze-Age Minoan Caves, Crete, Greece
7. St. Paul’s Grotto, Malta
8. St. Michael’s Shrine, Italy
9. Grotte de Font-de-Gaume, France
10. Sof Omar Caves, Ethiopia