The Karnak Temple complex in Luxor, Egypt, is impressive due to its sheer size. Covering an area that’s larger than most ancient cities, it’s dotted with temples, obelisks, and shrines. It took over 2,000 years to build and each Egyptian pharaoh left their own architectural mark. Walk through the Avenue of Sphinxes and discover the Great Hypostyle Hall. This enormous room filled with towering pylons and solid sandstone columns is one of the most famous and photographed attractions of Ancient Egypt. While you’re here, stop to admire the Sacred Lake and the nearby granite scarab.
Crafted out of an impressive two million blocks of volcanic stone, Borobudur in Indonesia is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Dating back to the 9th-century, it eventually fell into ruin until it was discovered again in the 1800s.Since then, it has been restored to its former glory and is particularly popular at sunrise. The Borobudur monument consists of six square platforms topped by three circular platforms. A pathway of enlightenment leads from the base of the pyramid up through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, the world of forms, and the world of formlessness. It’s decorated with over 2,000 reliefs and 500 Buddha statues, each one outlining a Buddhistteaching.
Located on the outskirts of modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan is one of the most famous Aztec archaeological sites. But the Aztecs didn’t actually build it. Despite many theories, nobody is really sure who did. However, the Aztecs did name it and make it their own when they stumbled across the abandonedcity. In its prime, it was the largest city in the Western Hemisphere and home to a plethora of residential compounds and pyramids. Today, its two iconic pyramids, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, are the major highlights. Stroll along the Avenue of the Dead and visit the Citadel and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.
With the tallest weighing in over 80 tonnes, the Moai Statues on Easter Island in Polynesiaare iconic. In fact, you’ll probably recognize them from a picture even if you hadn’t heard of them. These 800-plus statues, most of which face away from the sea, were carved from volcani cash by the Rapa Nui people somewhere between 400 and 1500 AD. Likely created using rudimentary basalt stone picks, each of these enormous monolithic statueswould have taken close to a year to complete. There are many theories as to why they were built, including as a way to honor importantclan ancestors and because of a believe it would improve the soil.
One of the most iconic Roman ruins, the Colosseum was an ancient gladiator arena. Unveiled in 80 AD, the 50,000-seater amphitheater was used for staging various events. These included animal fights and blood-thirsty gladiator battles where contestants would fight to the death. The architecture of the Colosseum is impressive even by today’s standards. The outer walls are made up of three levels of archways topped with Ionic, Doric and Corinthiancolumns. In its hey-day, they were decorated with marble statues. The top level once supported an enormous awning that sheltered spectators from the elements.
Great Wall of China.
Spreading through 15 Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure in the world. It is made up of a series of separate sections of walls and moats that were built over the course of six Chinese dynasties as a defense from invaders. Now well over 2,000 years old, some parts of the wall have fallen into ruin. Interestingly, for those who wanted to attempt it, walking the entire length of the Great Wall of China would take approximately 18 months.
The Rose City of Petra is an ancient desert town that was carved out of pink sandstonecliffs by nomads thousands of years ago. Located in Jordan, tucked between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, it’s hard to believe the city was once filled with green gardens, palatial houses, and bustling markets. Instead, a walk or camel ride through the ruins of Petra will reveal abandoned caves, temples, and tombs hidden within the city walls. The two-story Treasury carved into the rock face is one of the most beautiful landmarksin the old city. It’s worth viewing for the facade alone but the interior with its Indiana-Jonesy royal tomb is worth a look.
A huge tick off the travel bucket list, Machu Picchu is one of the most famous cities of the ancient Incan Empire. This historical fortress lies hidden in the mountains of Peru. So well hidden in fact that it was never found by Spanish invaders when they arrived in the1500s.They were only accidentally discover in 1911 by an American explorer called Bingham. A wonder of advanced engineering, it’s estimated that 60% of the construction was built underground, mainly for fortification and drainage. Today, these walled ruins can only be reached by foot or by train. Don’t miss the Machu Picchu Museum for an insider’s look into the Lost City of the Incas.
Once the capital of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries, Angkor was a thrivingancient metropolis. Today, the city is most famous for its Hindu Angkor Wat Temple that claims the title as the largest religious shrine on Earth. It’s famously visited at sunrise when the lighting over the temples is simply magical.But the Angkor Archaeological Park actually includes many more fascinating landmarks aside from Angkor Wat. Over 1,000 temples lie scattered throughout the forest, rice fields and farmlands. Highlights include the jungle-clad Tomb Raider Temple with trees growing out of it’s ruins and the 12th-century Bay on Temple that marks the historical center of the ancient city of Angkor Thom.
One of the most mysterious ancient sites on Earth, the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo are trulyfascinating. Created as enormous tombs for the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt in the Fourth Dynasty, there’splenty of speculation as to how they were built. With such precise and immaculate detail, they’re yet another remarkable feat of ancient Egyptianengineering. They were used as burial chambers and were littered with treasure for the Pharaoh tou se in the afterlife – something that attracted many a grave robber over the years. Don’t forget to get a kissing photo with the Sphinx – it’s pretty much mandatory.