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Fatima is a small town in Portugal located north of Lisbon. It is a major Catholic pilgrimage site because of reported sightings of the Virgin Mary in 1917 by three local shepherd children. The terrain around the village is wild and barren; a stark contrast with the fervent devotion of the millions of pilgrims that visit each year, especially for the main festivals on May 13 and October 13. The Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is one of most famous Marian shrines in the world. Some four million people visit Fatima each year, drawn by apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three local shepherd children in 1917.

Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its art and architecture. The fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. City history museum MUHBA, includes several Roman archaeological sites.

Lourdes is a small town in the Hautes-Pyrénées département in southwest France. It is the largest Catholic pilgrimage destination in France and one of the most popular Catholic shrines in the world. The small town of only 17,000 inhabitants receives more than 5 million pilgrims and tourists each year thanks to visions of the Virgin Mary reported by a young girl named Bernadette in 1858. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes incorporates 52 hectares of property and 22 places of worship, including a sacred grotto, two basilicas, and a variety of buildings for pilgrims and the sick. Outside the sanctuary, many pilgrims also visit the home of the young visionary, St. Bernadette.

Lisbon is Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city. From imposing São Jorge Castle, the view encompasses the old city’s pastel-colored buildings, Tagus Estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Nearby, the National Azulejo Museum displays 5 centuries of decorative ceramic tiles. Just outside Lisbon is a string of Atlantic beaches, from Cascais to Estoril.

 

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