There are many dimensions to making a pilgrimage in both real and the imaginary world. The pilgrim embarks on a ritual journey in search of purification, perfection or salvation. Pilgrim, way and shrine are all essential elements of this journey, which is different from all others in that it establishes a special relationship between the earthly and the holy, between the individual and the group and because the pilgrim is transformed along the way.
Almost all forms of culture have discovered in pilgrimage a means of relating with the sacred. The reasons vary according to each culture and religion but in essence pilgrimage is a request or a plea, a way of giving thanks for a gift you have received, a desire to improve your position in the social and emotional scale or to come closer to your God. The rich diversity of the world’s many pilgrimages has an incalculable heritage value for our knowledge of human behaviour and the evolution of thought regarding the most transcendental beliefs that make up our spiritual dimension.
There is evidence of prehistoric pilgrimages in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. In Hinduism as early as the Vedic period (6th century BC) pilgrimages were frequent, many on a massive scale, to rivers and other places. In Buddhism there are many sides of pilgrimage related with relics of the Buddha himself or events in his life or in that of other important people. In Shintoism, people make pilgrimages to many sites thought to be inhabited by the kami or spirits of nature. In many other religions there are numerous places that attract large groups of pilgrims with widely varying motivations. The three large monotheistic religions all have important sites that receive thousands and thousands of pilgrims: Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago, Mecca, and Medina are perhaps the best-known.