Shrines fill the Eurasian land mass. They can be found from Turkey in the west to China in the east, from the Arctic Circle in the north to Afghanistan in the south. Between town and country, they can consist of full-scale architectural complexes, or they may compose no more than an open field, a pile of stones, a tree, or a small mausoleum. They have been at the centers and peripheries of almost every major religious tradition of the region: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Yet in the formerly socialist world, these places of pilgrimage have something even more in common: they were often cast as the last bastions of religious observance when churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues were sent crashing to the ground in rapid succession across the twentieth century.
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