NEW UPDATE !!!!
20th June 2019
See wonderful new article about a 70 year old man made homeless by the terrible world economy
who has created an enormous used bookstore in Athens for he and other people who have lost their
homes to work in and operate -
(From the German DW website)
Also see the uplifting article about Muslims in India Celebrating their diversity at a
conference in New Delhi encouraged by the Dalai Lama who was asked to speak - in the
NEWEST UPDATE !!!
8th June 2019
Embrace has concluded uploading the last batch of photos from the Founders trip to Azerbaijan,
Turkey, Georgia, Cyprus and Lebanon into the EmbraceSacredPlaces.Org. website.
photos for educational purposes or entrepreneurial ventures. We know that for many people
including most children one photo is worth a thousand words, so please share this website with
educators and anyone who might enjoy it and benefit from it. Many of the churches and of course,
caves, are very dark making it extremely difficult to photograph. In at least a few places we took a
chance photographing in literally pitch black darkness. Amazingly, quite a number of the photos were
retrieved! We are sorry that some of these photos are grainy, but without them, the viewer would
lose an important dimension of the sacred site.
The following is the last installment of sacred places from: Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Cyprus &
38 Samtavro Church - Mtskheta, Georgia (Christian)
39 Sioni Cathedral - Tblisi, Georgia (Christian)
40 Somunca Baba Shrine - Darande, Turkey (Islam)
41 St. Gregory & St Elie Armenian Catholic Cathedral - Beirut Lebanon - (Christian)
42 St. George’s Catholic Church - Lebanon (Christian)
43 St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church - Lebanon (Christian)
44 St. John’s Basilica - Turkey (Christian)
45 St. Paul’s Well (& Family Home) Turkey (Christian)
46 St. Peter’s Cave Church - Turkey (Christian)
47 Svetitskhoveli Cathedral - Georgia (Christian)
COMPLETE LIST OF ALL PHOTOS FROM:
Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Lebanon & Cyprus
1 Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) Cave - Sanliurfa, Turkey (Jewish, Christian & Islam) INTERFAITH
2 Al Omari Grand Mosque - Beirut, Lebanon ISLAM
3 Amir Assaf Mosque - Beirut, Lebanon ISLAM
4 Anchiskhati Bascilica - Tblisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
5 Armenian Cathedral of St Elias & St. Gregory - Beirut, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
6 Ayia Napa Monastery & Church - Ayia Napa, Cyprus CHRISTIAN
7 Bagrati Cathedral - Kutaisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
8 Beit Rachel Synagogue (a.k.a. Ashkenazi Synogogue) - Tblisi, Georgia JUDAISM
9 Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) - Istanbul, Turkey ISLAM
10 Cana (Qana) Cave - Cana, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
11 Cave Churches - Gorme, Turkey CHRISTIAN
12 Church of Santa Maria Draperis -Istanbul, Turkey CHRISTIAN
13 Davit Gareja Caves & Lavra Monastery - Border Azerbaijan & Georgia CHRISTIAN
14 El Maqam of Imam Bahaa Ed-Din el Ta'i el Samouqi -Sharon Lebanon DRUZE
15 El-Maqqam of Lady Sarah - Dahr El Ahmar Lebanon DRUZE
16 Gelati Monastery - Kutaisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
17 Great Tblisi Synagogue - Tblisi, Georgia JUDAISM
18 Ateshgah Fire Temple - Suraxani, Azerbaijan ZOROASTRIANIAM
19 Aya Triada Greek Orthodox Church - Istanbul, Turkey CHRISTIAN
20 Gorme Cave Churches - Gorme, Turkey CHRISTIAN
21 Gumusler Cave Monastery - Nigde, Turkey CHRISTIAN
22 Haci Bektas Velli Tekke & Dargah - Haci Bektas, Turkey ISLAM
23 Hagia Sophia - Istanbul, Turkey (Christian & Islamic) INTERFAITH
24 Hala Sultan Tekke - Larnaka Salt Lake, Cyprus ISLAM
25 Job’s (Prophet) Cave & Mosque - Sanliurfa, Turkey (Jewish, Christian, Islam) INTERFAITH
26 Jvari Church - Mtskheta, Georgia CHRISTIAN
27 Kalendarhane Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey ISLAM
28 Our Lady of Lebanon -Harissa, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
29 Suleymaniye Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey ISLAM
30 Meryimana House of Mary - Mt. Coressos (Bulbul Dagi), Turkey CHRISTIAN
31 Metekhhi Church - Tblisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
32 Mir Movsum Agha - Shuvalan, Azerbaijan ISLAM
33 Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque - Beirut, Lebanon ISLAM
34 Patriarchy of Georgia’s Orthodox Church - Tblisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
35 Prophet (Nabi) Daniel’s Tomb - Tarsus, Turkey (Jewish & Christian) INTERFAITH
36 Rizvaniye Mosque & Mevlid i’Halil Mosque- Sanliurfa, Turkey ISLAM
37 Rumi, Mevlana Jelaledin (Celaleddin) - (Islam-Sufi) Konya, Turkey ISLAM
38 Samtavo Church - Mtskheta, Georgia CHRISTIAN
39 Sioni Cathedral - Tblisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
40 Somunca Baba Shrine - Darande, Turkey ISLAM
41 St. Gregory & St Elie Armenian Catholic Cathedral - Beirut, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
42 St. George’s Catholic Church - Lebanon CHRISTIAN
43 St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church - Lebanon CHRISTIAN
44 St. John’s Basilica - Turkey CHRISTIAN
45 St. Paul’s Well (& Family Home) Turkey CHRISTIAN
46 St. Peter’s Cave Church - Turkey CHRISTIAN
47 Svetitskhoveli Cathedral - Georgia CHRISTIAN
A small number of the sacred places only have a few photos. Embrace hopes to have these
locations “filled in” with more donated photos at later dates. We expect to receive additional photos
from those reading and viewing this site.
The Founders took a couple of photos of the front of the Kutaisi Synagogue and those photos were
put in photos under “Traveling in Georgia” and then they could not be relocated again. Anyone with
good photos of Kutaisi Synagogue including the interior, (congregation from Georgia) please send
4th April 2019
(Prophet Daniel’s Tomb) and Islam.
IMPORTANT!!! Please note, we have moved Prophet Abraham’s (Nabi Ibrahim’s) Cave and
Prophet Job’s (Nabi Ayyoub’s) Cave to the INTERFAITH section. Find them in the TURKEY -
NOTE: The Rizvaniye Mosque that is part of the Prophet Ibrahim (Nabi Abraham) Cave Complex is
listed under ISLAM.
Prophet Abraham (Nabi Ibrahim), Prophet Job (Nabi Ayyoub) and Prophet Daniel (Nabi Daniel) are
revered by Jewish, Christian and Islamic peoples. (However Prophet Daniel is not in the Holy
The Following Sacred Places Have Been Added:
Meryimana House of Mary - (Christian) Mt. Coressos (Bulbul Dagi), Turkey
Metekhhi Church - (Christian) Tblisi, Georgia
Mir Movsum Agha - (Islam) Shuvalan, Azerbaijan
Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque - (Islam) Beirut, Lebanon
Patriarchy of Georgia’s Orthodox Church - (Christian) Tblisi, Georgia
Prophet (Nabi) Daniel’s Tomb - (Interfaith) Tarsus, Turkey
Rizvaniye Mosque - (Islam) Sanliurfa, Turkey
Rumi, Mevlana Jelaledin (Celaleddin) - (Islam-Sufi) Konya, Turkey
March 15th. 2019
The following new locations have been uploaded:
1 Ateshgah Fire Temple - Suraxani, Azerbaijan
2 Aya Triada Greek Orthodox Church - Istanbul, Turkey
3 Gumusler Cave Monastery - Nigde, Turkey
4 Haci Bektas Velli Tekke & Dargah - Haci Bektas, Turkey
5 Hagia Sophia - Istanbul, Turkey
6 Hala Sultan Tekke - Larnaka Salt Lake, Cyprus
7 Job’s (Prophet) Cave & Mosque - Sanliurfa, Turkey
8 Jvari Church - Mtskheta, Georgia
9 Kalendarhane Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey
10 Our Lady of Lebanon -Harissa, Lebanon
11 Suleymaniye Mosque - Istanbul, Turkey
IMPORTANT !- Please Read for Sacred Place Searches!
We would like to note that there has been an on-going debate as to whether Prophet Abraham’s
(Nabi Ibrahim’s) cave and Prophet Job’s (Nabi Ayyoub, Eyoub’s) cave in Turkey should be
listed under ISLAM due to special mosques associated with them, or under INTERFAITH as
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all revere these prophets.
We’ve decided to list the caves of Prophet Abraham Nabi Ibrahim) & Prophet Job (Nabi Ayyoub)
under INTERFAITH. We’ve noted increased numbers of Christians who are paying their respects to
these shrines in recent months. The Turkish people have created beautiful parks and mosques
associated these sacred places of upliftment that people of all three faiths can admire and
26th February 2019
After the Founder’s trip to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Lebanon and Cyprus Embrace had 45 new
photos. They have been edited, sorted into 43 new Sacred Sites and alphabetized.
Embrace has entered 16 new Sacred Sites into the categories of: Christianity, Druze, Judaism and
Islam under the listing of the following countries: Georgia, Turkey, Lebanon & Cyprus.
We will soon have more and some in Azerbaijan.
SEE FOLLOWING PLACES:
Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) Cave & Mevlid i’Halil Mosque - Sanliurfa, Turkey (listed ISLAMIC)
Al Omari Grand Mosque - Beirut, Lebanon ISLAM
Amir Assaf Mosque - Beirut, Lebanon ISLAM
Anchiskhati Bascilica - Tblisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
Armenian Cathedral of St Elias & St. Gregory - Beirut, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
Ayia Napa Monastery & Church - Ayia Napa, Cyprus CHRISTIAN
Bagrati Cathedral - Kutaisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
Beit Rachel Synagogue - Tblisi, Georgia JUDAISM
Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque) - Istanbul, Turkey ISLAM
Cana (Qana) Cave - Cana, Lebanon CHRISTIAN
Cave Churches - Gorme, Turkey CHRISTIAN
Church of Santa Maria Draperis -Istanbul, Turkey CHRISTIAN
Davit Gareja Caves & Lavra Monastery - Border Azerbaijan & Georgia CHRISTIAN
El Maqam of Imam Bahaa Ed-Din el Ta'i el Samouqi -Sharon Lebanon DRUZE
El-Maqqam of Lady Sarah - Dahr El Ahmar Lebanon DRUZE
Gelati Monastery - Kutaisi, Georgia CHRISTIAN
Great Tblisi Synagogue - Tblisi, Georgia JUDAISM
Embrace Sacred Places. Org. seeks to photograph as many details as possible on many sites so
that people who can not travel can get a better idea of what the location actually looks like. We also
wish to record details due to the danger of ecological damage, wars and natural disasters, so that
the public can have a record of many of the world’s sacred sites. In addition, if at any time a site
needs to be rebuilt a little of the information photographed will hopefully assist in the endeavor.
Lastly, we would like to provide a wide selection of photos that anyone can use for educational
purposes or for promotional purposes for entrepreneurs that could use free photographs for their
websites, brochures or business cards.
We will announce each group of new listings as they are uploaded.
8th January 2019
Enjoy the photos of two unusual spiritual places - A Zoroastrian (Fire) Temple and the incredible
magnificently mirrored Mir Movsom Ziyaratgah - Mosque & Shrine Complex.
6th January 2019
This is the third trip for the Embrace Founders to Lebanon in recent years. Each time they have
focused on different aspects of the country. Unfortunately, the issue of Syrian refugees had to be
dealt with, because many of them were in the hotel that Ajata and Virginia stayed in, the restaurants
the Founders ate in . . . Like Turkey, they were everywhere.
It has become necessary to touch on a some of the atrocities that have been visited upon Lebanese
civilians over the years, although it does not go into the use of napalm or the murder of unarmed
peace activists. For those who wish more information see:
It is critical that those reading Embrace articles understand that Embrace strongly supports
Judaism and the Jewish grassroots people uninvolved with politics or political lobbying.
However, in no way to we support the government in the Holy Land. Nor do we support any
government or political leader.
4th January 2019
Traveling in Georgia (2018) is now in CELEBRATE HUMANITY.
Georgia is a microcosm of what is developing worldwide. Those who read this may gain a clearer
insight into aspects of what may be happening in their own countries, even in some parts of Africa.
There are many human interactions and real dichotomies occuring in Georgia at this time in history;
Very Old Communities of Georgians - Christians and Jews, Russians, Iranians buying property,
Saudi tourists in large numbers . . .
20th November 2018
There is a new article and photos from the Embrace Founders trip to Cyprus in CELEBRATE
HUMANITY.Cyprus has been a troubled area since the 1970's between Greek Cypriots and Turkish
Cypriots. However, Europeans have flocked to the beaches for decades and now also many
8th November 2018
FINALLY!!! Embrace has uploaded the New CURRENT (Summer/ Fall 2018) into the website,
outlining the Embrace Founders travel in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lebanon and Cyprus. There
are many, many photos.
This CURRENT runs to two pages, so be certain to click on continue at the bottom of the page.
UPDATE ! IMPORTANT !
28th October 2018
Embrace has just put a lengthy article about traveling in Turkey and the situation in the country
especially regarding SECULARISM & RELIGIOUS CONSERVATISM, young Muslims, the Dervish
(Sufis) Orders in Turkey and what political and social forces are changing the country.
8 th October 2018
The Embrace Founders have returned from 2 ½ months in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lebanon
and Cyprus with thousands of photos of sacred places in these countries to put in:
Since, the Founders had been to Turkey before. They only photographed new details of the Great
Mosques, so that more views will be available.
Among the many Holy Places in Turkey to photograph, the Founders particularly wanted to Travel
in the Footsteps of the Apostles and Mother Mary (Miriam - Mother of Isa / Jesus) after the
death of the Christ.
They also photographed beginning in Sanliurfa the caves of Abraham (Nabi Ibrahim) & Prophet Job
(Nabi Ayyoub) before traveling along the Mediterranean in Turkey - to the cave of St. Peter
(Antakya), the archaeological remains of the home and holy well (still with water) of St. Paul in
Tarsus,(also archaeological excavations & tomb related to Prophet Daniel, (not mentioned in the
Qu'ran), The Basilica of St. John where he is buried and the House of Mary (Miriam) in Selcuk.
Also, the Founders traveled in the Cappadocia region to photograph cave churches where
Christians lived and hid from the Romans during their time of persecution. Photographs were also
taken of three Islamic saints, usually called Dervishes in Turkey which will be written about later.
People in other parts of the world call them sufis: Rumi, Haci Bektas Velli and Somunca Baba
(Sheikh Hamid-I Wali). The Founders visited their old friends of the Jerrahi Dervish Order in Istanbul
although the people they knew in earlier times; Sheikh Muzzefer Effendi, Sheikh Saffir and Imam
Hafiz Sedef are now passed on. They took only a few photos as the Jerrahi’s new location as it was
Turkey is made-up of a very complex society. It has absorbed over 4 million Syrian refugees whom
the Founders encountered everywhere (pretty angry with America & the Western nations) One
elderly woman (Sunni) on a bus told Virginia that 25 members of either her neighborhood or family
were killed. Anyone that believes that Sunnis were happy to support the U.S. troops and the
terrorists they recruited to bomb and blow up Syria, can forget it. There are also Afghan refugees
that speak Uzbeki and even a few Iranian Kurds who are accepted into general Turkish society.
Although Kurds are often depicted as only Sunni Muslims, the truth is that there are 11 different
philosophies / religious affiliations among the Kurdish people.
In Georgia the Founders photographed magnificent ancient churches and enjoyed the energetic
and friendly monks at the Gelati Monastery. They also were delighted to find a dynamic and very,
very old Jewish Community in Tbilisi (of Gurjim or Ebraeli Jews) who some scholars believe came to
Georgia after 586 B.C. in the 6th century. The Founders were welcomed to photograph two
synagogues with the help of a friendly congregation member who offered to take them also to the
Beit Rachel Temple (Ashkenazi -the Ashkenazi Jewish community arrived much later in Georgia.)
Lebanon always has a hold on the hearts of the Founders. Probably, because the people have all
suffered so much and worked so diligently to overcome their divisions. All the people seem to have a
hard earned wisdom. Now days you find Muslims living and working along side Christians in
traditional Christian neighborhoods. But the most rewarding meeting for the Founders in Lebanon
this time around was their meeting with the Druze, high in the Lebanese mountains where they
photographed two of the Druze community’s most sacred places.
In Azerbaijan, the Founders were staggered by the incredible urban planning in Baku. Fantastic
modern architecture next to buildings constructed along classic French lines. Somehow, it works! A
Zoroastrian Fire Temple (ancient) that had also been used by Hindus later on was photographed . It
is still held sacred by current Zoroastrians (called Parsi in India.) You will find quite a number of
Mumbai Parsi visiting there. The Founders also photographed a sufi shrine of great significance to
all the Muslims in Azerbaijan, that of Mir Movsum Agha.
In Cyprus, the Hala Sultan Tekke Islamic Shrine and the Ayia Napa Greek Orthodox Monastery &
Church where a sacred icon of the Virgin Mary exists were photographed.
NOTE AMERICAN’S: No country where the Founders have traveled in the last 10 years have had
any thing good to say about America. American’s are seen as bullies and as a terrorist nation that
has with no provocation chosen to bomb civilians and initiate wars in: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya,
Pakistan, Syria and these are only the public wars. During Obama’s time the U.S. military made
incursions into 36 different countries (Check Wikipedia) In fact, Virginia and Ajata met a Christian
couple from India while traveling on this trip, who said they wanted to move out of India, but they
wanted to make sure it wasn’t a country the U.S. was going to start bombing(!)
Time to re-think foreign policy. Time to learn some negotiating skills instead of bombing people
to steal resources and geographic access.
In a few weeks there will he more information, along with photos in CURRENT. Check your RSS,
the Marquee or the Bulletin.
24th May 2018
Embrace has done research on the demographics and ecological status in the Holy Land with some
additional information on it’s economy. The article is THE DEMOGRAPHIC and ECOLOGICAL
SITUATION IN THE HOLY LAND found under FOCUS on the Menu. This article peers into the
Holy Lands not to distant future.
20th February 2018
Again,we are sorry for the delay - FINALLY! the articles:
30 January 2018
There was an oversight in mentioning that Embrace had also uploaded photos of VietNamese
sacred places under the sections of Confucianism and Taoism.
So in total, sacred places in Viet Nam can be found under the following six categories listed
alphabetically: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Taoism and Traditional.
Please note: Temples in the city of Hoi An are often classified as Assembly Halls or Congressional
Halls of various Chinese coming from different geographical locations. All include temples or places
to worship within them. In Penang, Malaysia these same Halls with temples are often called “Clan”
houses. A “British Colonial” designation.
It is very difficult to label Traditional and Taoist temples. Generally, Vietnamese and Chinese, and
temples that are a combination of Vietnamese and Chinese influences can be defined by the central
or largest deity in the temple. However, generations change, new deities or ancestors are added,
others lost. In the case of some writers, who do not actually know the temple they are writing about
and are not practitioners of the religion or spiritual tradition they are writing about, mislabel these
as well as temples primarily dedicated to great personages.
Buddhist Temples always have as their central figure either Shakyamuni Buddha or a particular
Buddha or Kwan Im or Guan Yin (the Goddess of Compassion, known by several names) or by
Avalokeswara - Avalokiteshvara (the God of Compassion - the male version of Kwan Yin, Guan Yin)
or in the case of the Tibetans and His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s personal Deity (Chenrezig- the
name of the God of Compassion in Tibetan.)
Often in Southeast Asia there are many statues of non-philosophical Taoist deities and in temples
that are still primarily Theravada, there are often statues of Arhats. In general, Arhats have achieved
self-realization but have not achieved the status of a “Buddha.” (There are numerous Buddhas in
There is an exception to the previous description of Buddhist temples we have given and that
exception is in Sikkim. The bringer of Buddhism to Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet was Padmasambava and he
has been attributed with many miraculous powers. He is particularly loved by the Nyingma and
Kagyu Tibetan traditions and there are Buddhist temples that seem pretty much dedicated to only
him usually showing him conducting his many miracles throughout the temples.
In general, so that no misunderstandings arise, Buddhists (especially trained monks, nuns, geshes
and so forth of all schools of Buddhism) usually concentrate on the good qualities or aspects of a
Buddha or deity which represents (generosity, courage, compassion etc.) to gain insight into that
quality and make it their own. It is not considered worship. However, this is often not the case for
devout lay Buddhists.
Some Buddhists, such as the famous Thich Nhat Hanh from Viet Nam now living in France,
emphasize “Mindfulness” meditation which is a strong discipline to keep track of all your thoughts
and to try to eliminate negative, harmful patterns of thinking. His teachings have a very wide
audience among Westerners many who consider themselves non-religious, as well as people
brought up in Buddhism. It is a practice that can benefit people of all persuasions, just as Hatha
Yoga is practiced by people of many different religions.
The most difficult temples to label are Taoist. That is because most Taoist temples are combined
with traditional beliefs. The philosophy of Taoism given to the world by a man we call Lao Tzu and
the later disciples of his philosophy does not provide for worship (like Confucianism.) Philosophical
Taoism of the original Taoism is not widespread in Asia. (The Tao Te Ching the original book of
philosophical Taoism is very popular, however, in the West.)
Some people will say that if the Jade Emperor is in a temple, then it is Taoist. As a non-
philosophical Taoism, of course it must be considered as such. But it is a form of Taoism pretty
much unrelated to the philosophy of Lao Tzu, Chu’ang Tzu and others of the philosophical school.
There is little confusion with Confucianism (Kong Zi), which is a philosophy and whose very ancient
temple in Hanoi is called “Temple of Literature.” Devotional people still leave gifts to statues of
Confucius and some of his scholars. It is a sign of respect and honor. However, as we have noted
before, a Confucius statue might be found in a temple incorporating the Buddha, non-philosophical
Taoist deities and/or ancestors and other. Traditional, revered persons.
The optimism and exuberance of some modern Chinese and Vietnamese temples incorporating
mixed traditions are a joy to visit and their innovative designs and bright colors are uplifting to
photograph. The monks and people are often very proud of their temples and make a visit to them
by outsiders a wonderful experience. History is important but new traditions are finding their place
of importance also.
The Embrace Editors are currently working editing and labeling photos taken in Hong Kong City,
Cheung Chau Island and Kowloon.