The world is full of natural and man-made historical sites that are just beautiful and magical to see. There are so many creations left behind by ancient civilisations that it is so hard for people to create a small list. Everyone has their favourites and I’m sure these make up the majority of most peoples’ bucket lists. I have selected 10 of my own favourite historical sites and listed them below, each of which fascinates me.
Machu Picchu – Peru
Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by explorer Hiram Bingham III and is believed to have been a royal or sacred religious site for Inca leaders. The entire civilisation was almost wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. Machu Picchu is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and has both a great archaeological value and a variety of ecosystems. It also represents the amazing technical skill and productivity of the Inca Empire at its peak.
Colosseum and Roman Forum – Rome, Italy
The Colosseum in Rome was used for events such as gladiator combats, chariot races, wild animal fights and executions. The Colosseum was also used for mock naval engagements whereby the arena was flooded with water and came at a great expense. Awnings would be unfurled from the top story to provide shade from the sun for the audience below. This amphitheatre had seating for more than 50,000 seating which may have been arranged according to social rankings.
The Roman Forum, or ‘Foro Romano’ in Italian, was the main centre of an ancient Roman city. It served as a public area where commercial, political, social, religious and economic activities took place. Forums were common in all of the ancient Roman cities, but none were as grand as the forum of Rome itself. You can still find ruins of temples, basilicas, arches, government buildings or official residences, smaller monuments, pools and springs, roads, streets and staircases within the forum today.
Cappadocia – Turkey
Cappadocia lies in the heartland of Turkey and is a whimsical geological oddity that features stunning honeycomb hills and “fairy chimneys” which are tall, rock formations in the shape of a cone that are clustered in Monks Valley. Cappadocia is best known for its underground cities, cave churches, and houses carved into the rocks. Some of these houses still serve as homes, and others as hotels.
Stonehenge – England
Stonehenge is one of the worlds greatest mysteries, and we may never know why, or how, it was built. It is likely that civilisations gathered there for religious ceremonies.
The henge was built across a number of hundred years, and work on the monument began in the Neolithic Age in around 3000BC. Over the next thousand years, civilisations made a number of changes to the monument, with the last changes made in the early Bronze Age in around 1500BC.
The Great Pyramid of Giza – Egypt
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and the biggest of the three pyramids situated in the Giza pyramid complex and is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World. The ancient Egyptians built these extravagant pyramids as tombs for the pharaohs and their queens. The pharaohs were buried in pyramids across the region varying in shapes and sizes from before the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the end of the Middle Kingdom. There is an estimated 80 pyramids known to us today that are from ancient Egyptian times.
Tikal – Guatemala
Tikal is the ruins of the ancient city, believed to have been called Yax Mutal that was found in a rainforest in Guatemala. Although Tikal may have been inhabited by at least 600BC, most of the buildings in the city were built during the ‘Classic’ period of Mayan history, from AD 250 to 900. Temple IV (pictured) stands at 70 metres and is the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas. The ruins are iconic and feature temples and palaces such as the Mundo Perdido Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar.
Petra – Jordan
Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom and dates back to around 300BC. It was accessed through a narrow canyon called Al Siq and contains tombs and temples that are carved into the pink sandstone cliffs. Its most famous feature is the 45 metre high Al Khazneh temple (pictured), which boasts an ornate, Greek-style facade. It is also known as The Treasury.
Easter Island – Chile
This Chilean island is most famous for its 887 statues called moai that were created by the early Rapa Nui people. These statues were believed to have been built to honour chieftain or other important people within the civilisation that had passed away. They are placed on top of rectangular stone platforms called ahu. These are tombs for the people that each statue represents. The name ‘Easter Island’ comes from the early Dutch explorers who discovered it to honour the day of their arrival in 1722.
The Alhambra – Granada, Spain
The Alhambra is a stunning mixture of both a palace and a fortress that is located in Granada, Spain. It was built for defence purposes and as a city comprising of three parts: the Alcazaba (military residential citadel), the alcázar (the palace) and the medina (the city). The Alhambra is the most important surviving architecture from the period of Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula.