So many aspects of the ancient world are still debated amongst archeologists and anthropologists today. However, one thing that we do know for certain is that so many of the cultures of antiquity were highly advanced in architecture. A number of ancient constructions were created with such excellent workmanship and intelligent design that they are still standing (at least partially) today. These monuments are the masterpieces of the ages: a conglomerate of culture, religion, and aesthetic beauty all encompassed in buildings of architectural genius. These ten magnificent and ancient monuments from around the world cannot be missed in your lifetime:
10 Machu Picchu
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a 15th century Inca establishment located about 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is the most iconic site of Inca civilization. Located in the heart of present day Peru, this site is believed to be built as the estate of the Inca emperor Pachucuti. Built around 1450 in traditional Inca style with polished dry-stone walls, Machu Picchu is an incredible sight towering in the high mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. A marvel in ancient architecture and construction, this magnificent site will amaze you with its beauty and leave you filled with questions of its construction.
9 The Acropolis
This ancient site atop a hill in the modern day city of Athens is a well-preserved citadel containing the remains of several historically and architecturally significant buildings of ancient Greece, most notably The Parthenon. This magnificent site can be seen from just about any vantage point throughout the entire city of Athens. The Acropolis is known today as a part of the legacy of the Greeks and as a key symbol of the glory and magnificence of Classical Greece. The site is not only picturesque in and of itself, but also offers wonderful picturesque views of the city of Athens and the great Mediterranean beyond.
8 The Western Wall
This wall of many names (The Western Wall, The Wailing Wall, Kotel or Al-Buraq Wall) is a holy site in the ancient city of Jerusalem, Israel. An important site to all three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism), this huge wall was originally created to encase the natural, steep hill of the Temple Mount (the holiest site of Judaism and a notably holy site of Christianity and Islam alike). With so many religions (and thus, people) giving genuine significance to this site, there is a magical presence that exists there as you can feel the manifestation of millions upon millions of prayers that have been silently or otherwise spoken to this wall throughout the ages. The energy present there is hard to explain and truly unlike any other.
7 The Colosseum
The largest amphitheater ever built is at home in the center of Rome, Italy. Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 spectators as it was used primarily for gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and classic mythology dramas. A very iconic symbol of Imperial Rome and its great empire, the Colosseum today is one of Rome’s biggest tourist attractions. As such a magnificent structure of ancient architecture and historical value, Rome’s Colosseum is certainly a sight to be seen.
6 The Hagia Sofia
This magnificent holy house has held the prayers of Christians, Muslims, and historians throughout the years. Originally constructed in 537, the Hagia Sofia served as an Orthodox cathedral in the ancient city of Constantinople, now modern day Istanbul. Under the Latin Empire, it was converted in 1204 to a Roman Catholic Church until 1261 when it was again used as an Orthodox cathedral. In 1453, the building was converted again to be used as a mosque, and then in 1935, it opened its doors to the public as a museum. The beautiful building is most famous for its massive dome, which is considered to be typically classic Byzantine architecture and is said to have changed the history of architecture. The beautiful Aya Sofia (the Turkish name) is a site to be marvelled.
5 The Great Wall Of China
This massive and ancient fortification runs for over 5,500 miles and, as legend has it, can even be seen from space. The Wall was built along an east to west line to border the historical outline of ancient China to protect the Chinese people and empires from invaders. Pieces of the Wall were built as early as the 7th century BCE and were later joined with stronger fortifications to make up what we now know as the Great Wall of China. This picturesque defense covers mountain ranges and valleys moving through snow and heat and, according to Chinese culture, “climbing” the Great Wall earns you the title of “hero.”
4 Chichén Itzá
Located in the current Yucatan State of Mexico, Chichén Itzá was one of the largest Mayan cities. It is believed that the city may have had the most diverse population in the area which could have possibly contributed to the unique and assorted architecture at the site. While the core of the site was created somewhere between 750 and 900 AD, Chichén Itzá grew with time to develop into a bigger city that largely centered around a large pyramid temple: El Castillo. Currently, Chichén Itzá is one of the most visited archeological sites in all of Mexico and is certainly a wonder to behold.
This “Rose City” hosts incredible façades carved into rose-colored sandstone in the deserts of present day Ma’an, Jordan. Thought to have been created as early as 312 BCE, the city was established as the capital of the Arab Nabataeans. Massive sculptors in the stone, Petra is a city that was carved rather than constructed. The precision and detail of the carvings is a wonder in and of itself but the sheer magnitude of the city is almost unbelievable. One of the most arid places in the world, it is yet another wonder how this large ancient city was able to survive the elements of the harsh desert.
2 The Temples of Angkor
Over 1,000 ancient temples cover the historic Khmer Empire’s capital, Angkor, in the modern-day province of Siem Reap, Cambodia. This magical site is home to jungle, lakes, rivers, moats and, of course, endless ruins of temples and palaces. Boasting the world’s single largest religious monument (the great Angkor Wat Temple), this endless playground cannot be missed. Nature has claimed back a large portion of the rubble with enormous trees spreading roots and growing directly out of the temple walls. Recent research using satellite photography concluded that the great complex of Angkor was the largest pre-industrial city in the world. Rightfully so, the complex of Angkor has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected under this designation.
1 The Great Pyramid Of Giza
The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one to be left largely intact is the Great Pyramid of Giza, located in modern-day El Giza, Egypt. This magnificent structure is the oldest and the largest of Egypt’s renowned Giza pyramid complex. Believed to be built as a tomb, the pyramid was completed around 2560 BCE. At 481 feet tall, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the world’s tallest building for almost 3,800 years. Still debated today, it is largely unknown how the massive pyramid was built without the aid of modern day equipment and technology. The project was believed to take at least ten to twenty years to construct. There are three known chambers and tiers that exist with the Great Pyramid and, it goes without saying, that visiting this site is a must.