Follow TV Tropes


Holy City

Go To

Some cities are just places where a lot of people live and work. Some are seats of worldly authorities, elevating them above others. And then there is the Holy City, a site so intrinsically tied to a particular religion that it became a symbol of faith all by itself. In peacetime, it will result in thousands to millions of devoted pilgrims visiting it every day. In wartime, expect it to be defended to the last breath, even more so than a national capital (unless it is the national capital), and the consequences if it is ever sacked by an invader are either a lot graver or a lot worse for the other side. It's likely to be The Theocracy, although it doesn't necessarily have to be.

Holy cities come in two flavors:

  • Vatican-style: The seat of the High Priest, The Pope, or the head of The Church by any other name. Often wields significant political power in the setting, whether formally or informally.
  • Jerusalem-style: A city historically important to religion but not directly under its influence.

See also Holy Ground.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Rabona in Claymore, by the virtue of being at the center of all known lands.
  • Northern District of Mid-Childa in Lyrical Nanoha, governed by the Saint Church.
  • Sailor Moon: The ruins of the Moon Kingdom on the moon. In the manga, Sailor Moon's power-up came from praying to the crystal tower.
  • One Piece: Holy Land Mary Geoise, capital of the World Government (often translated as Marijoa or Mariejois). Said to be at the very center of the world, it lies 10,000 meters above sea level atop the Red Line, a massive rock wall continent that circles the globe. The only permanent residents are the World Nobles/ Celestial Dragons, their servants and slaves, and high-ranking government employees and leaders. The walled-off World Noble district, known as the "Domain of the Gods" takes up most city space. Ascending to the city and crossing through it is the only safe way to travel between the Paradise and New World halves of the Grand Line. The only other route is going under the Red Line through Fishman Island, 10,000 meters below sea level. The former is safe but requires government permission to travel and requires you to leave behind your ship and get a new one on the other side, while the latter allows you to keep your ship, but is extremely dangerous with very few surviving the voyage.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Hometree in Avatar serves as both a city and a sacred site for the Na'vi, though not as sacred as the Tree of Souls (which, on the other hand, isn't really a city).
  • Rogue One: Jedha City, capital of the moon Jedha, is a sacred site to those who believe that the Jedi will one day return. Pilgrims come from across the galaxy to pray, and the non-Force Sensitive (possibly) guardians of the temple still walk the city's streets, teaching of the Force. The Empire has control of the city and excavates the Kyber crystals (which the Jedi used to focus their lightsabers) as a key component of the Death Star's superlaser. When Krennic destroys the city using a partially powered blast from that same superlaser, he claims that he destroyed the last reminder of the Jedi in the galaxy.

  • A Canticle for Leibowitz: In post-apocalyptic America, St. Louis has become the seat of the Catholic Church.
  • Dorith's End, particularly Dredmor, is the holiest settlement of the Ascensionist religion in City of No End.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: "The Mayors": In the past few decades, Terminus has become the center of a religion practised throughout the Four Kingdoms. When the King of Anacreon (influenced by his ambitious uncle) tries to send their navy to conquer Terminus, the military and civilian populations revolt in defense of the Holy City.
  • Rhuidean from The Wheel of Time series is a Jerusalem-style holy city for the Aiel.
  • Cantisca for the Sole and Unified Church in the Arcia Chronicles.
  • Agaris for the Esperatian Church in Reflections of Eterna until it is razed and burned to the ground.
  • On Gor the one holy place is the Sardar Mountains, where the Priest-Kings live. Four times a year, at the solstices and equinoxes, there is a fair at the base of the mountain. Every Gorean is expected to attend the fair at least once before their 25th birthday.
  • In Catherynne M. Valente's In The Night Garden, the city of Al-a-Nur is a Holy City where stand twelve Towers, each a temple for a completely different faith, from the Tower of Sun and Moon, to the Tower of Patricides, to the Tower of St. Sigrid, etc. In Al-a-Nur, all the different devotees live together in harmony.
  • The Citadel of Kom, capital of the Theocracy of Omnia and centre of the Church of Om in the Discworld novel Small Gods is a Vatican-style holy city. (It's also in the Discworld version of the Middle East, about where Jerusalem would be...)
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Gujaareh is the main and most important city for the worshippers of Hananja. In fact, Hananja's Law is what the Gujaareens live by and are in return bestowed with Hananja's magic, narcomancy, which is virtually unknown and unused outside of the city-state. Gujaareh also houses the Hetawa, the main temple of Hanaja.
  • Second Apocalypse: There are two key ones that factor in the story.
    • Sumna is the holiest city in all of Inrithism. The Vault-of-the-Tusk is kept in Sumna as well as the vast temple-complexes of the Thousand Temples. The Shriah, the High Priest of Inrithism, maintains his seat in Sumna.
    • Shimeh is the second holiest city in Inrithism for being a site of scriptural importance for Inri Sejenus. Reconquering Shimeh becomes the object of the Holy War declared in the first trilogy. Shimeh is also a holy city to the Fanim because the Cishaurim keep their holy tabernacle, the Ctesarat, maintained within Shimeh.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Urithiru, the ancient home of the Knights Radiant, was the most holy city in the world, protected from the Highstorms and inaccessible except by a Knight Radiant. The Knights withdrew from the city shortly before the Recreance, where they abandoned their oaths, so the city was lost for thousands of years. Most people, even religious scholars, don't believe it ever existed. In the first two books, Jasnah and Shallan are looking for the city in the hopes that it contains records that have not been altered by the Hierocracy, which might have more information on the upcoming Desolation.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Vaes Dothrak is the only permanent settlement for the Dothraki and regarded as holy ground for them; spilling blood is forbidden - killing without drawing blood is still permitted.
    • Oldtown is this for Westeros, due to being the former seat of power for the Faith of the Seven, the most important religion in Westeros besides the Old Gods of the North. Though the Faith has since moved to Westeros' capital in King's Landing during Baelor the Blessed's reign, Oldtown still has significance as House Hightower, the oldest and richest noble house in the Reach, has close ties with them.
    • Inverted with Asshai by the Shadow, which is about as unholy as it can get in this setting: it's a dark and sinister city populated almost exclusively by shadowbinders and dark wizards and where no dark practice is forbidden, no matter how depraved. Traders do visit to export food since no plants grow and every animal gets sick and dies upon setting foot in the city, and everyone is wary of them. There is also no children in sight.
  • The Afterward: The Holy City, which isn't a proper city really anymore, as it's mostly abandoned, but still has altars to the Old God and the new gods. It turns out to be where the godsgem's located, so the seven companions go there for this. Otherwise people largely avoid it due to the Old God's dangerous presence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: The Dothraki view their only city, Vaes Dothrak, this way. It lies in the shadow of a single, vast peak known by the Dothraki as the Mother of Mountains, which is considered sacred. Dothraki holy women, known as dosh khaleen, live in the city and are respected by all Dothraki. By tradition, the widows of Khals are supposed to return here and remain to join their ranks.
  • Stargate SG-1 has Celestis, a holy city populated entirely by the Priors of the Ori and located on a vast, flat plain of very shallow water. The Ori themselves manifest a sacred eternal fire there that they use to communicate with the Doci, their head priest.
    • The show also features Dakara for the Jaffa- according to their tradition, it's the place where their servitude to the Goa'uld first began (i.e. presumably where they were first implanted with symbiotes) and as such an ideal symbolic target for the Jaffa rebellion to strike against the Goa'uld. Later, it becomes the first capital of the Free Jaffa Nation. Strangely, it was never mentioned before the episode where Teal'c decided to capture it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A ton of them in Eberron.
    • Flamekeep in Thrane for the Church of the Silver Flame, both a Jerusalem and Vatican style, as it hosts the Silver Flame itself and the Speaker of the Flame and High Cardinals.
    • Ashtakala in the Demon Wastes, an evil version, for the Rhakshasas and the Lords of Dust. A Jerusalem-style (Former capital of their empire).
    • Greenheart in the Eldeen Reaches for the Wardens of the Woods, a Vatican-style (home of the Great Druid Oalian).
    • Shae Mordai in Aerenal, the City of the Dead hosts the Undying Court the elves worship. A Vatican-style.
    • Most of the cities of Adar are also temples of various monk orders.
    • Athur in Karrnath is a Vatican-style. It houses the Crimson Monastery of the Blood of Vol. The religion's true figurehead, Vol, lives somewhere else. The monastery is home to the cardinals who spread her teachings.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Holy Terra, besides serving as capital for the Imperium, is also the seat for the Imperial Cult and Ecclesiarchy. There's a galaxy's worth of other holy worlds, including Cardinal Worlds ruled directly by the Ecclesiarchy, and Shrine Worlds dedicated to an Imperial Saint. And in a weird example, the Imperial fortress-planet of Cadia is a holy site to the heretical Word Bearers legion, since it's where their primarch converted to worship the Chaos Gods before the Horus Heresy.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battles: The imperial city-state of Middenheim is the hub of the Cult of Ulric, a god of war, winter and wolves worshipped by man since before the founding of the Empire. The flat-topped mountain upon which it sits, called the Ulricsberg or Fauschlag ("Fist-strike"), is said to have been rendered such by a single blow from the god. The city's most prominent landmark is the Great Temple of Ulric, which is built around the White Flame of Ulric — a magical, everlasting bonfire and the cult's most sacred site.
  • In Forgotten Realms many people consider cities visited during Time of Troubles by deities they venerate to be especially blessed, worthy of pilgrimage, or something like this.
  • Albidion (Vatican-style), or rather the humongous cathedral-city at its center, in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. Arkángel, the capital of the Holy Empire of Abel, could count too (rather as Jerusalem-style).
  • Battletech has Hilton Head, North Carolina, on Earth as the headquarters of ComStar, the religious sect/telecommunications conglomerate. It is from there that the Primus (essentially ComStar's pope) ruled over the entire religion, at least until ComStar secularized after Operation Scorpion and the Word of Blake Schism.

    Video Games 
  • Civilization IV introduced religions to the series, and when you found a religion by being the first to research the requisite technology, one of your cities will become its holy city, usually one of your most recently founded. A Great Prophet can build a religious wonder in it that brings in extra income based on how widespread the religion is while also increasing the chances of the religion further by random event. Capturing holy cities can thus be very lucrative even if you don't share the religion in question... and if you burn a holy city to the ground, you can expect severe diplomatic consequences.
    • Civilization V changes up Holy Cities a bit (and religion in general). A religion's Holy City is the city in which the religion was initially founded by a Great Prophet. It exerts massive religious pressure on surrounding cities, which doubles when the Grand Temple national wonder is built. A Holy City's designated religion can never truly be wiped from it from outside pressure; even if all of its citizens have been converted, the religion will regain traction there in a matter of turns. Holy Cities also cannot be razed, so players going for religious dominance will either have to continually send waves of missionaries to counter the Holy City's natural pressure, or capture the Holy City for themselves and send Inquisitors to strip the city of its Holy status.
  • Crusader Kings: Every religion in the game has 5 Holy Sites. Each holy site held by a ruler of that religion increases the religion's moral authority by 10%, which aids in conversion and preventing heresy. In addition, in both this game and its sequel, holding at least 3 holy sites is required to reform a pagan faith.
  • In the Dragon Age series:
    • Val Royeaux is the capital of the Chantry of Andraste.
    • Ditto Minrathous for the Imperial Chantry.
    • Denerim, the birthplace of Andraste, is also this, albeit Jerusalem-style. Though a few other cities claim they're the birthplace of Andraste as well.
  • Dragon Quest VIII features several important religious locales home to the Templars, but none are more important than the Holy Isle of Neos. The city and its population are systematically wiped out when Rhapthorne finally escapes from his sceptre and levels the once-sacred place to serve as his stronghold, the Dark Citadel. Neos has some good equipment, so you might want to avoid the plot for a bit.
  • At the time of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the eponymous province has three clear Holy Cities, one for each of the three Tribunal gods. Almalexia and Vivec are clear Vatican-style cities, as they not only house the deities they're named after but also high-ranking Temple officials (the head of the Temple in Vvardenfell in Vivec and the head of the Temple on the mainland in Almalexia). Sotha Sil... is a bit more complex, as the inhabiting god stays away from mortal affairs, and the city's location is unknown to mortals (and, as such, has no mortal inhabitants). The city of Necrom is described in terms suggesting it has holy significance (it is specifically called out as a necropolis in a religion with elements of ancestor worship), although unlike the Triune cities it isn't visited in Morrowindnote .
  • Fear & Hunger: Ma'habre, the city of the gods. It is the home of the New Gods, who took it over as the influence of the Old Gods waned. The player's party is able to enter it after journeying down to level 7 of the dungeons with the Cube of the Depths in their inventory. It appears to take influences from both Jerusalem and Mesopotamian cultures in its architecture.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Sienne in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, home of the Tower of Guidance, Mainal Cathedral, and the Holy Apostle, Empress of Begnion.
    • Downplayed in Fire Emblem: Three Houses with the Garreg Mach Monastery, which serves as the Vatican-style headquarters of the Church of Seiros, the residency of the Archbishop, and a major pilgrimage destination in its own right, thanks to hosting the tombs of Saint Seiros herself and of many other early Saints. The downplayed part comes from the fact that as a population center, Garreg Mach is minuscule compared to other continental capitals like Derdriu, Fhirdidad, and especially Enbarrnote : beyond the monastery fortress itself, the Church Knights' barracks, and the Military Academy for nobles under its auspices, Garreg Mach is surrounded by a handful of villages providing it with necessary supplies.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy X has Bevelle, the main base of the Yevon clergy, and effectively the capital of Spira.
    • Final Fantasy XII has Mt. Bur-Omisance, the spiritual center of the Church of Kiltia, which is followed by most Ivalicians to a certain extent (judging by the opening movie, it has spread to places like Dalmasca).
    • Luxerion in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the capital of Nova Chrysalia and the headquarters of the Order of Salvation.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has the Holy See of Ishgard which has spent a thousand years in a Forever War with the dragons of Dravania.
    • Mullonde in Final Fantasy Tactics is where the Church of Glabados is based. It wasn't always an island; the Cataclysm Backstory tells us that a powerful earthquake destroyed much of the original Mullonde region after St. Ajora Glabados was executed by the Holy Ydoran Empire.
  • St. Heim Papal State for the Church of Granas in Grandia II.
  • Halo:
    • High Charity, a colossal, mobile planetoid that serves as the capital of the Covenant and the Prophets' Holy City.
    • Halo 5: Guardians introduces Sunaion, a temple city on the Elite homeworld built right over a sea.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn has Meridian, the only city in the world, and the seat of every Sun-King since the first one founded it. The main grievance of the Eclipse cult, most members of whom were exiled from Meridian (for very good reason), is that they haven't been able to conquer the city. As long as they don't have Meridian, they will never hold real power anywhere in its Sundom. Game events fully support Meridian's importance- the final battle against the apocalyptic Big Bad takes place on its outskirts. In a very real sense, Meridian is where the world was saved.
  • Pentagulia in Lunar: Eternal Blue, said to be the home of the goddess Althena. Players of the first game, Lunar: The Silver Star, will instantly know something is up, given both the lack of such a place (it instead had the Goddess Tower, protected by the Magic City of Vane) and the fact that Althena gave up her divinity to live with Alex on Lunar, dying as an old woman. Indeed, the Althena that Hiro and his party meet is a fraud, put into power by Zophar; Althena/Luna left behind a recording for Lucia in her absence. However, Pentagulia is built atop the remaining Goddess Tower.
  • Romancing SaGa 3: Lance. Dubbed the "Holy City", it's the birthplace of the Matriach, the heroine who valiantly fought and defeated the demons from the Abyss some centuries prior the events of the game. A mausoleum dedicated to her is the main attraction of the place.
  • Daath, where the Order of Lorelei is based in Tales of the Abyss is a Vatican-style Holy City. "The Watchers' Home", Yulia City, is something of a hybrid of the Vatican-style and Jerusalem-style, being linked with the Order and historically significant to it, though only high-ranking members and residents of the city even know of its existence.
  • The City of the Sun God in The Secret World. Essentially a purpose-built Vatican-style capital city for Atenism, it was constructed in the last of Pharaoh Akhenaten's reign and features a ridiculous amount of monuments - most prominently the Black Pyramid in which Akhenaten was buried following his defeat.
  • Trials of Mana: The Holy City of Wendel acts as the center of the religion that worships the Goddess of Mana and is led by the Priest of Light from the Temple of Light. Pilgrims come to seek blessings and sage wisdom from the Priest himself.
  • Yet another Vatican-style location is the city-state of Nirvath in Vandal Hearts II, particularly its greatest landmark Nigran Cathedral. It's also the location of the final battle, and it collapses after defeating the last boss.

    Web Comics 
  • The titular and perhaps mythological Suihira, where the last lake on earth is said to be.
  • Unsounded: Silverleaf is the city built in the place where the Gefendur religion teaches the goddess Tirna fell to earth and is the most sacred location in their religion. It is also the center of the church’s power and the capital of the theocracy in Ulestry.

    Real Life 
  • Jerusalem is probably the Ur-Example. It's the Holy City of three world religions (in chronological order): Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Temple Mount is the direction that all Jews face towards during prayer and it used to be the same thing with Muslims until a Qur'anic verse was written (or handed down by God, if you're a faithful) requiring them to switch the direction to the Kaaba in Mecca. For Christians, it has the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was buried.
  • In addition to Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias are holy cities in Judaism. Hebron has the tomb of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives (except Rachel), Safed has long been a center of kabbalah, and Tiberias is where the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled.
  • Nablus (Shechem in Hebrew) is also sacred to Jews, as tradition holds that Joseph's tomb is there, but it's much more important for Samaritans, whose holiest site is the nearby hill of Mount Gerizim.
  • For the Catholic Church, Vatican City and, by extension, the whole of Rome. Some popes and cardinals did try to change Avignon, France, into an alternative Holy City to Rome in the 14th century, though that had less to do with the holiness of the city and more to do with the French crown attempting to seize control over the papacy.
  • Mecca and Medina for Islam, Mecca being the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad and the location of the very sacred Kaaba, and Medina being the city that housed the Prophet during his flight from Mecca and is the site of the all-important Prophet's mosque. As noted above, the Kaaba is the direction that all Muslims face towards during prayer and the mosque that surrounds the structure, the Masjid al-Haram, was designed to be circling it so the faithful will face the same direction everywhere they pray. See also the list of holy sites in Islam on The Other Wiki.
  • Constantinople, AKA İstanbul, has some aspects of this for the Eastern Orthodox Churches because it is the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the first among equals of the Eastern Orthodoxy.note  There is an ongoing dispute over whether the successor of the resident Patriarch will need to get a Turkish passport.
  • Alexandria, seat of the Coptic Pope (who lives in Cairo these days, but who's counting?).
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the centerpiece of the city is a large complex featuring the iconic Salt Lake Temple, a skyscraper housing the church's administrative division, the church's extensive genealogical library, and several meeting halls. Some other important church history sites are scattered throughout the city. However, the real sacred city of Mormonism is Independence, Missouri, which was identified by religion founder Joseph Smith as the site of the future New Jerusalem, with a particular parcel of land (called the Temple Lot) dedicated as the location of a temple by Smith. Nothing has been built on the lot, but the second-largest Mormon sect (Community of Christ) and some smaller churches are based in the area. Palmyra, New York (where Smith founded the religion) and Nauvoo, Illinois (a city founded by Smith) also count.
  • To a lesser extent, Canterbury in England. It was a very common destination for pilgrimages on account of its beautiful cathedral and it being the site of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket. It is the principal see of the Church of England and has been ever since it was still a part of the Catholic Church. Also the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury — the de facto head of the Church of England — although he lives in Lambeth Palace in London.
    • For a long time northern England had Durham, which was the resting place of St Bede and ultimately St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, two of the most important Anglo-Saxon saints. Cuthbert's shrine in particular was a major centre of pilgrimage, only really being eclipsed by Canterbury after the death of Thomas Becket. Somewhat unusually, Durham was also a Prince-Bishopric; that is, the city (and by extension, County Durham as a whole) was directly ruled by the Bishop instead of the King of England.
    • Up until the reign of Henry VIII, England had a secondary holy city in the form of Bury St Edmunds, which had the shrine of Edmund the Martyr, a deeply pious 9th-century king of East Anglia who the viking leader Ubba had executed after he refused to renounce Christianity. The shrine was a significant site of pilgrimage in England for centuries until the shrine was defaced and destroyed for its gold during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • Echmiadzin for the Armenian church.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church is led out of Danilov monastery in Moscow, while Troitse-Sergieva Lavra in Sergiev Posad is the most revered of all Russian monasteries, being the seat of the greatest Russian saint, St. Sergius of Radonezh.
  • There used to be a Muslim proverb, "The holier the city, the wickeder its people." While that is probably not true, the contrast makes it noticeable, and anyway it is likely easier to fleece pilgrims, whose only qualification is having money to travel, than it is to fleece merchants who have been at the game long enough to know all the tricks.
  • Serbs have been known to refer to Kosovo as their equivalent to Jerusalem, which would make it a holy province.
  • The four holy cities of Buddhism are Lumbini where Gautama Buddha was born, Bodh Gaya where he achieved Enlightenment, Sarnath where Buddha preached for the first time, thus starting the Wheel of Dharma (founding Buddhism), and Kushinagar where Buddha died. The first is in Nepal; the other three are in India.
  • Lalish, Northern Iraq for the Yazidi faith, which is the burial site of Adi ibn Musafir, a Sufi sheik believed to be the living avatar of the Yazidi angel Melek Taus.
  • Acre and Haifa, two coastal Israeli cities, are sacred to the Baháʼí Faith. Acre is the burial place of Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the religion, and is considered by the faithful to be the holiest place on Earth. Haifa is the burial place of Báb, Baháʼu'lláh's spiritual predecessor, and the Baháʼí World Centre, the central administration of the religion.
  • Shia Islam has quite a few of these in Iraq and Iran.
    • Karbala, Iraq, is probably the holiest place in Shia Islam after Mecca and Medina. It was the place where Husayn, Muhammad's second grandson and the third Imam, was martyred by the forces of Yazid I, the second Umayyad caliph. The commemoration is known as the Day of Ashura, and during that time, millions of the faithful descend into the area around the shrines of Husayn and Abbas (Muhammad's fourth grandson who was also martyred during Ashura) for a massive mourning procession. 40 days after Ashura, the place is host to an even larger gathering, Arba'een, which is comparatively more cheerful. Arba'een attracts more people annually than Hajj does, even though, unlike the Hajj, it is not religiously sanctioned.
    • Other Iraqi cities which witnessed the martyrdom and burial places of Shia Imams are Najaf, Baghdad, and Samarra. Najaf is especially important as the resting place of Ali, the first Imam, Muhammad's son-in-law (and cousin) and Husayn's father, after he was assassinated in the nearby city of Kufa.
    • Mashhad is the holiest city in Iran because it hosts the burial place of Ali al-Ridha (or Alireza in Iran), the only Imam who was martyred in Iran. His sister, Fatimah, was buried in Qom, a city to the south of Tehran, but Qom today is considered holy for a different reason: it is the largest scholarship center of Shia Islam and produces hundreds of clerics annually.
  • Varanasi is considered as such by most Hindus, and also Buddhists (as the place where the Buddha lectured after receiving enlightenment; it's very close to Sarnath).
  • In Sikhism:
    • Amritsar, as it was considered to have been built by the fourth Sikh guru. The Golden Temple was seized by Sikh militants; Indira Gandhi ordered its storming and was later assassinated because of it. Sikh politicians demanded it be recognised by the government as a holy city; the government replied that following the principles of non-sectarianism it did not recognize any holy cities in India.
    • Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur and Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib are considered just as holy as the Golden Temple in Amritsar (the former was personally built by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, while the latter is located near his birthplace). The problem is that these two are located in Pakistan, which does not get along with India, where 90% of Sikhs live. It took several decades of diplomacy before Pakistan granted Indian Sikhs an easy, visa-free access to the former (Kartarpur is right on the border, but previously, everyone had to go through a lengthy detour that is not only 125 km longer but also requires a visa).