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A soul place is an island, a building, a city, or a natural vista that opens up a space within that you didn’t realize was closed.

Do certain places seem familiar? / Photo Djordje Korovljevic

Stepping off the train, the humidity settles over you, seeping into your pores, and the pungent mixture of spices, donkeys and sweat greets you.

The fig trees sway in the gentle Mediterranean breeze, cotton clouds scattered across the crystal blue-sky cast shadows over the plaza. Strangely, even though you have never been here before, you feel as if you’ve come home.

You have found a soul place.

A soul place is an island, a building, a city, or a natural vista that speaks to you in a language unheard. It opens up a space within that you didn’t realize was closed.

Jeffery Paine writes that a soul or sacred place is “a sense of connection between inner and outer landscape. The softening of the heart.”

Others would argue that the earth’s energy, things such as magnetic variances and ionization, creates an invisible sense of harmony and well being. This produces a sense of awe that is usually inspired by nature’s beauty.

Niagara Falls, a special place for many, is said to have the highest concentration of negative ions, caused by the quantity of the rushing water, in the world.

Memories From Our Ancestors

Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize winning author, was born and raised in Jackson, MS. His wife’s job as a city planner took them to many cities but when they moved to New Orleans, Ford said he had “an instantaneous recognition.”

Whatever caused our ancestors to pilgrimage to these spots, it is still drawing us as well.

Even now, living in Maine, he considers New Orleans home.

Often we are inspired to build monuments on these sacred grounds: pyramids, cities, stone circles, churches, mosques. Whatever caused our ancestors to pilgrimage to these spots, it is still drawing us as well.

Scientists suggest that our genes may have the ability to carry memories from our ancestors.

Perhaps the earthy taste of freshly squeezed olive oil, never before experienced, causes you to feel as one with the rocky landscape of a Greek island. Could that be a mysterious taste welcoming you back to the land from which you came?

No matter the reason, we are inexplicably attracted to locations and feel a connection that we cannot readily explain.

In their special issue on Sacred Places, U.S. News and World Report states that that these spots are “as varied as the human sense of the sacred and as various as the world’s spiritual traditions.”

An Individual Definition

A soul place cannot be defined as purely a sacred place. The significance could be religious, spiritual, inspirational, or simply calming and peaceful. What defines a soul place is as individual as each of us.

Fellow travelers may experience different soul places on the same trip. The appeal of each location is as unique as the attraction between two people. A chemistry that flows, unseen and mysterious.

And like love, you can experience many soul places.One spot may appeal to your desire to play the guitar, another allows you an inner peace, while a third may feel like a comfortable old shoe.

Ask any group of people what their soul or sacred place is and the answers will be as distinct as the person.

In recent surveys, listed on and on the U.S. News and World Report website, people posted a long list: Mt. Shasta, a civil war cemetery, a 250 year old oak tree, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the family farm and any number of religious buildings and sites.

The best thing about soul places is that they are an unexpected and welcome find. Keep an open mind and heart and you will discover yours.

Have you found any of your soul places? How did you know? Share your thoughts in the comments!



About The Author

Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a production supervisor on feature films. Recently she rediscovered her passion for adventure and travel while hiking a mountain in Belize with a broken rib. Check out her exploits and ramblings at her blog.

  • Greg Horner

    Wow! I never made the connection, but last year I took a cruise through Europe and picked an itinerary that made a stop in Northern France. The reason being is because I have always felt a connected to Normandy and World War 2 and specifically D-Day. I rented a car from Le Havera and the entire drive and time walking the beaches of Normandy it felt familiar as if I had been there before. I was at peace. I guess I found my soul spot. Plan to go back and spend at least a week there.

  • John

    I never been to, but am attracted by a strong feeling of a “Soul of the place” from Reunion Island, Madagascar, Japan.

  • Karien

    My soul place is a country I’ve always wanted to visit and finally got to do that last year: Cuba, and in particular, the city of Santiago de Cuba.
    I instantly felt totally and utterly at home there ….completely “ME” ….and cried all the way to the airport when I had to leave …..
    cannot wait to return….. for much longer next time ……..

  • Carolyn

    My soul place has always been where I can be near the sound of running water or waves, surrounded by flowers. Now that I live away from the ocean, I head for a mountain stream, take off my hiking boots, close my eyes and listen – just listen and soak up the world around me.

    Which is why I work hard to ensure that there will be quiet places – everywhere in our country for quiet reflections and restoration

  • Chelsea

    There is a German movie called Schultze Gets the Blues which explores this topic very well. Schultze is an older German man who is stuck in the rut that is his life. He does have one passion though; the accordion. One day hes hears Zydeco music on the radio and becomes transfixed with everything Louisiana. He ends up winning a trip there and it is clear that he has found his “soul place”… Though the first viewing I was almost put to sleep (it’s a rather artistic, not fast-paced film), after multiple watching I grew to love it!

  • Julia

    When I went to Florence, and loked over the Arno, in the beautiful unmistakeable light of Tuscany I wept.
    There is another place Between Rosarito and Ensenada, we go often and every time I shed tears of happiness

  • Scott

    Varanasi, India . . . inside the Grand Canyon . . . anywhere on a river, I understand it’s language in whatever country I’m in . . . deserts, anywhere . . . any beach where waves are breaking . . .

  • Judy L Pigman

    My ‘soul place” is New England. Fifty years ago, when I was 14, the haunting melody “Old Cape Cod” sung by Patti Page caught my attention unlike any other song. Seven years later I traveled to the Cape and unquestionably discovered I have a New England soul. Off and on for years I returned, not just to the Cape, but the coast of Maine, Boston area, and each time I returned to my Ohio home, I felt as though I left a big part of me back on the coast. Finally in 1996 I followed my heart and soul to Newburyport, Ma. where I lived for two years in a house built in 1836 where I was 5 minutes from the Atlantic! I’ve returned to Ohio, but I did get to live out my dream and into my New England soul, a time permanently etched into my history, and all because of Patti Page’s rendition of “Old Cape Cod.”

  • Anya

    Donegal, Ireland is the center of the world for me. I’m sure that in my previous life I was a sheep there. Running around, bleating and chewing the grass…

  • Arem Nahariim-Samadhi

    I find, after moving often over the years, that when I enter a new home, a particular place, the place I do spiritual reading and meditation, will become a soul place in the house. At times, just seeing the place, even if it is only a corner in a room, I am drawn there – as though “my soul” pulls my body there. If I pass by and look, something within me is drawn to the Silence of Inner Quiet, without even moving in the direction physically.

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