Ever since the young peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary there in the mid-1800s, Lourdes became – and still is – one of the most frequently visited pilgrimage sites in the world. The site boasts around 6 million visitors a year, but what should every one of these travellers see and do when they’re visiting?
The grotto where the apparitions were seen
If you are planning a trip to Lourdes or have already been, you’ll already know that the visiting the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is an essential part of your trip. This is where you can dip yourself in the pool or drink the water from the spring well-known for its healing powers.
Visit the basilicas
There are a few basilicas in the Sanctuary that are well worth a visit too. The Upper Basilica, otherwise known as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is an impressive Gothic-style building with stunning stained-glass windows depicting the story of Lourdes. Seeing the Rosary Basilica is also something to include in your trip – the main theme of this church is the celebration and depiction of the Rosary and its interiors are truly breathtaking.
Attend a mass
Given the fact that Lourdes is almost solely known for its religious aspects, attending a scheduled mass whilst there is something that many visitors fit into their itinerary.
Nightly torchlight procession
Every night at 9pm there is a procession from outside the Grotto known as the Torchlight Marian Procession. It is led by pilgrims holding a replica of the Cabuchet Statue of the Virgin Mary, and those who join it carry a candle each creating a spectacular line of light as they all walk the route, ending in front of the Rosary Basilica.
House of St. Bernadette
Many pilgrims visit the house where St. Bernadette and her family lived at the time she saw the visions. Now turned into a museum, it includes a mill, kitchen, Bernadette’s bedroom and photographs, which is fascinating to see.
Museum of the Miraculously Healed
Again, this museum is a popular attraction for those visiting Lourdes. It holds artefacts and documents that prove miraculous healings – however, it does not leave out those that question the authenticity of the curative nature of the water from the grotto by still being incredibly informative and instructive no matter what your beliefs.
Before Lourdes became known as a religious site, it was renowned for its, now, only major secular attraction – the historic castle, Chateau Fort. Perched on the top of a hill on the edge of the city, you get a great view of your surroundings.