Seven shrines you cannot miss in Kyoto

Kyoto is the jewel of the Japanese culture, the ancient capital of the Japanese Empire and a must-see in any trip to the country. From the Arashiyama Mountains to the old Gion, Kyoto is a city full of magic, where tradition lives together with modernity. But with more than 1,600 Buddhist shrines and 400 Shinto shrines it is always difficult to choose the ones to explore during the few days that a visitor can spend in the city. And thus, while planning your trip to Kyoto, you start reading and searching for those hotspots that you shouldn’t miss.

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The impressive Kiyomizu-dera, the first temple we visited in Japan

We are sure that when we visited the city we missed great shrines, but we’re also happy to know that we saw other ones that put inside us the peace of mind and the smell of incense that makes us dream about a second trip to Japan –a really addictive country! Below you’ll find out the main shrines and moments from our visit to Kyoto.

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Montserrat, the sacred saw mountain

Montserrat was once a delta of the Tetis Sea. It was before the growth of the Pyrenees, before the actual Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe merged. But then the tectonic forces pushed the Iberian plate towards the north and the land started to compress, fold and grow towards the sky. The Pyrenees were created and other mountains appeared where there used to be sea, plains or deltas. Nowadays Catalonia stands on the land that once was under the water and in the center of the country; Montserrat is still the light that guides the Catalans. It is our sacred mountain and a must-see place when you visit Barcelona.

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The Monastery and Sanctuary of Montserrat

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Pisa, more than a leaning tower

Pisa might be one of those cities in the world where you can always find plenty of visitors, especially in summer. We have already told you that we are not quite enthusiast about those highly touristic places, but we also think that if everyone wants to visit a city, it must be a good reason for it. Pisa is a common destination for student groups, but nor Dídac or me, at our age, had ever visited this Italian hotspot until last summer. Pisa entered into our plans when we saw cheap flights from Girona’s airport that perfectly suited some additional vacation days. And thus we decided to buy them and stay in Pisa for two nights before moving to Firenze. The first day was devoted to Pisa, the second one we had the opportunity to briefly explore the Tuscany region by car.

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Views from the terrace of our hotel

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Miyajima, the Island of Gods

There is an island where you can feel in the middle point between the heaven and the underworld, a place that you can only reach by boat and where the shrines seem to float on water. A World Heritage Site, along with the virgin forest of Mount Misen and numerous preserved shrines, monuments and historical sites makes you realize you are in a unique place in the planet. The perfect harmony between human beings, nature and spirituality that Japanese people usually do so well can be felt in every corner of this island, Miyajima Island, the Island of Gods.

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From the boat we saw the floating Tori while approaching the island.

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The Douro, sailing between Spain and Portugal

We are used to travel on the weekend or while our (never enough) holidays and thus we try to make the most of our trips with lots of planning and less room for improvisation. But last summer, in Portugal, we had the three things that any traveler needs to decide the destinations along the way: a car, a camping tent and a travel guide.

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On the road

We had travelled through central Portugal from Lisboa to the medieval jewel of Guimarães and our next stop in our way back home was fixed at Burgos (Spain), a city dominated by its amazing Word Heritage cathedral. But we still had one night and some hours driving to reach Burgos, so we decided to open the guide and look for hotspots in the way back to Barcelona. We had heard about Miranda do Douro, a Portuguese town, belonging to the Braganza district, located in the border with Spain and next to which environmental cruises depart to sail through the international natural park of the Douro river. Moreover, the town has a municipal camping site, so we couldn’t ask for more!

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