Lourdes is a town and commune situated in the southwest of the Hautes-Pyrénées department, lying in the first Pyrenean foothills, in southwestern France. Lourdes was originally a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. At that time, the most prominent feature was the fortified castle that rises up from the center of the town on a rocky escarpment. Following the claims that there were apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, Lourdes has developed into a major place of Christian pilgrimage. The 150th Jubilee of the apparitions took place in September 2008. Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000 inhabitants but is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. With about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France after Paris.
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