Italy: Loreto – Basilica

Loreto in the Italian province of Marche is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy and the world. The massive basilica here was built by Pope Paul II in 1468 as more of a super fortress then a cathedral to defend against Ottoman raids. It’s hilltop position and structure of humongous walls and turrets makes it one of the most fortified religious institutions in the world (similar to Lordes in France). The structure is in the form of a crucifix. Loreto attracts millions of visitors each year, including more then four million pilgrims, because of the story that the House of Mary – the Santa Casa – was flown here from the Holy Land by a group of angels in 1293 (did they charter a plane?). What’s more, there are crowds of sick and begging here as well in hope for salvation and cure. It’s beautiful inside but there are massive lines of pilgrims to see stuff and they yell at your for photography attempts.