Lourdes O Come, All Ye Faithful
Settled since Roman times, the quiet mountain town existed in relative obscurity for centuries, best known for the fortified chateau rising above the town from a rocky escarpment. All of that changed in 1858, when 14-year-old Bernadette Soubirous was visited by the Virgin Mary 18 times in a rocky grotto. The Vatican acknowledged the visions and beatified Bernadette in 1933. Today, it’s the 3rd most visited pilgrimage site in all of Christianity, making the town the second most popular destination in France. A unique experience regardless of faith, the neo-Byzantine cathedral presides over visitors flocking to the grotto and bathing in the site’s healing waters. On the other side of town, the château fort de Lourdes has retained elements dating back to the 11th century, and offers visitors great views along with the Pyrenean Museum, which presents the most important collections on the history of the French and Spanish Pyrenees.
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