Ancient Religious Reflections:
Sacred Places Past and Present

Department of Classics
Monmouth College


NOTE:  This material will remain "in progress" throughout the semester. It will be modified as needed. Students are advised to consult this schedule periodically for changes, modifications, and additions.

Sacred Places Class Definitions
2007 / 2012 / 2014

Prof. Sienkewicz' Personal Statement of Sacred Space

Sacred Places (General):
Definition by Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota:
The Code of Canon Law. See especially "Sacred Places and Times"
"Sacred Space: Your Daily Prayer On-Line" and

Torah: Holy Actions are what makes Sacred Space Lovely

Gibbs, John G. "Sacred Space in Biblical Perspective"
Impressions of Sacred Space:

Witcombe, Christopher L.C. E. "Sacred Places."
This site is an excellent introduction to the topic of sacred places. It includes an introduction on sacredness and site links to major sacred places around the world, many of which are topics for this course.

"God in America: Sacred Spaces"
Visiting Sacred Spaces:

Catawba College: Sacred Spaces:
Beyond Belief: Religions and the Environment

Partners for Sacred Places:

Building Your Own Sacred Space: Setting Up a Buddhist Altar

Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E. "Sacred Caves."
Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E. "Stones and the Sacred."
Witcombe, Christopher L.C. E. "Mountains and the Sacred."
Witcombe, Christopher L.C. E. "Trees and the Sacred."
Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E. "Water and the Sacred."

Gray, Martin. Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power. See especially the initial slide show and bibliography.
"Sacred and Magical Places: An Introduction"
"Sacred Geometry"
"Categories of Sacred Space"

Sacred Places (More Specific):
Swami B.G. Narasingha. "
Vastu Shastra and Sacred Architecture"

Condren, Mary D. "Sacred Spaces: What Makes Them Sacred?" (feminist theory)

Mircea Eliade and the Sacred:

Durham,  John C. “Eliade: Sacred and Profane.”
Cummings, Randal Lee.  “A Synopsis of Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane.”
Kelly, Joseph F, and Sheila E. McGinn. "The Basic Ideas of Mircea Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane"; Basic Ideas:

Eliade Powerpoint

Sacred Places Around the World:
Sacred Destinations Travel Guide:
UNESCO World Heritage list:
Sacred Landscapes:

Gray, Martin. Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power. See especially the initial slide show and bibliography.

Jagannatha Puri:

Narasingha, Swami B. G.  "Vastu Shastra and Sacred Architecture":

Witcombe, Christopher L. C. E.

Caesar, Ed. "What Lies Beneath," Smithsonian 45 (September 2014), pp. 30-41:

Cordoba: (note plan) (photo gallery, exterior) (photo gallery, interior) (photo gallery) (mosque and church) (initial response by bishop of Cordoba) (Pope Benedict XVI re Muslims in mosque) (Fight in mosque) (More on the fight) (Christian polemic on the question) (An interesting twist: Mosque in Cordoba vs. Church in Damascus) (Cordoba and 9-11!

El Camino de Santiago
Cuelho's "Road to Santiago" (video)
"Temple of the Stars" (intro)
"Temple of the Stars" (full):

Muir Woods:
National Park Service:
Muir Woods National Monument:
Virtual Tour:
Biography of John Muir:

Nashville Parthenon:

Parthenon Frieze:
Parthenon Frieze: (be sure to click on English at bottom right)
Greek Ministry of Culture:
Ancient Greek Cities:

Columbia University:
Here are some helpful reviews of books about the Parthenon and its frieze:

Olympia Sanctuary

Ancient Greek Cities:
Siphnian Treasury: Temple of Apollo.
Grout, James. The Serpent Column at Delphi in Encyclopoedia Romana.
Serpent Column in Istanbul:
Hayes, Holly. Ancient Delphi in Sacred Destinations.
Morden, Margaret E. Delphi, Oracle of Apollo.: 
Sandels, V. E. K. Delphi in
Siegel, Janice. Dr. Js Illustrated Delphi.
Witcombe, L. C. E. Sacred Places: Delphi, Greece
omeric Hymn to Apollo 
Sienkewicz, Thomas. Homeric Hymn to Apollo: An Analysis (abridged)

Ritual Animal Sacrifice
Roman Sacrifice (Ara Pacis--Altar of Peace)*/Sacrificium.html

Animal Sacrifice in World Religions:

Sacrifice in the Old Testment (Sacrifice of Abraham)


Greece (ancient and modern)


Animal Sacrifice in Other Cultures,665,0,0,1,0

National Geographic:
Hajj Prep: Search Soul, Buy Sturdy Shoes, Pay the Dentist
Diaa Hadid, a Times correspondent, is getting ready for her first hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. And her family and colleagues have plenty of advice.Read More:
ard Postcard From Mecca:
The Road to Makka
Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta is an IMAX dramatised documentary film charting the first real-life journey made by the Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta from his native Morocco to Mecca for the Hajj, in 1325.


St. Peter's Basilica: (on-line documents on St. Peters' Basilica)
St. Peter's Basilica - A Brief History by Fr. Carolan, OMI, English Guides to St. Peter's
St. Peter's - Guide to the Basilica and Square by Nicolo Suffi, ©Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Guide to Saint Peter's Basilica by Fr. Giovanni Giuliani OFM Conv ©1995 A.T.S. Italia- Roma
THE TOMB OF ST. PETER by Margherita Guarducci © 1960, Hawthorn Books

The Dome of the Rock:
The Noble Sanctuary
A well-done site from a Muslim perspective that doesn't deny the existence of the earlier Jewish temples. They are developing an interactive CD-Rom about the site.

Dome of the Rock
(Personal Page, Martin Gray) Authored by an anthropologist/ photographer, this lengthy article is accompanied by some nice photos.

Dome of the Rock, Israel
(Sweet Briar College) Features three photos of the interior of the mosque. Text is limited and contains some biblical/historical errors.

Dome of the Rock
 (Great Buildings Online) Examines the Dome of the Rock from an architectural point of view. Includes photos and a free downloadable 3D model.

El Aqsa Mosque

The Importance of Masjid al Aqsa to Muslims
 (Personal Page) Part of an extensive website on Islam
Article by a member of the Muslim Student Association, Brigham Young University.

Jerusalem: History Lessons (Aqsa)
 (Albalagh) Provides eye-opening insight into Muslim thought on their history, religion, and responsibility to Jihad.

Mosques Around The World
( Photographs, mostly small, of Muslim places of worship around the world, including Mecca and Medina.

Todai-Ji: (includes satillete map) (on the birushana)

Chartres: (in French)

Conversation with a Church Leader

Also consult Sacred Places Bibliography

This material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

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