There are many reasons people travel to other countries. While some just want to relax in beaches and hotels, some want to discover hidden beauties; some want to see cultural places; some want to see historical sites, etc.
There are many historical places to visit in the world – places often referred to as lost cities in the world. Rumours of lost cities or chance discoveries by people going about their everyday lives have led to unimaginable finds that are today open for the world to see. Some of these places are part of the wonders of the ancient world
Many of these have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance. The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”.
Below are top 10 historical places to spend your vacation.
The Great Wall of China, Beijing, China.
The Great Wall of China actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications. Stretching almost 6,000 kilometres as it snakes its way through forests and mountains, the Great Wall of China is one of those undeniable bucket list sites that have long inspired great adventures.
It was originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (ca. 259–210 BC) in the third century BC as a means of keeping out the Mongol hordes invading the country. Though the Great Wall never effectively prevented invaders from entering China, it’s still a massive engineering and construction feat and human accomplishment.
Today, you can opt to simply visit the wall on a day trip from Beijing, or tackle whole sections of it on organised, multi-day trips. Some sections of the wall have been restored, while other sections are badly in need of repair.
The Pyramids at Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Egypt is one of the best countries to visit for history. It is no coincidence that so many archaeologists want to participate in the research of Egypt’s history. Egypt was the most important civilization of the Mediterranean until 332 BC. One of the places to visit is the pyramids at Giza in Cairo, Egypt’s capital. One of the most iconic sites in the world, the Pyramids of Giza, are a surreal sight rising from the barren desert landscape.
These pyramids are over 3,000 years old, and we still don’t have a good idea as to how they were built or how the Egyptians made them so precise. Standing guard nearby, and almost as impressive, is the Sphinx, gazing blankly out over the land.
The pyramids were built as tombs for the Pharaohs, the largest of which was constructed between 2560 and 2540 BC.
Egyptians believe in life after death; that’s why they put all of the valuable things and money in pyramids. Even they put food and meals into the comb. They believe that a man who died will be wealthy as in real life.
The complex of these pyramids is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Khafre, Khufu, and Menkaure are the names of the pyramids.
The pyramids are located on the Giza Plateau, about 11 miles southwest of Cairo. There isn’t an easy way to get there using public transportation, so travellers typically take a taxi, use Uber, or hire a car and driver. A few hotels like the posh Marriott Mena House are within walking distance of the pyramids.
Petra, Wadi Musa, Jordan
Jordan is one of the top countries to visit for history. Jordan was part of the Assyrian, Roman, Babel civilization and state. In the 7th century, Jordan was occupied by the Arabs. During the 16th century, it was a part of the Ottoman Empire. During World War I, it was a part of England.
One of the most popular historical sites in the country is Petra. During its zenith, Petra, Jordan’s most famous archeological site, was a bustling commerce centre where citizens traded Arabian incense, Chinese silks, and Indian spices. Nabateans built the ancient city in the country’s southwestern desert in 400 B.C.E. , but it was unknown to the Western world until the 1800s. Petra consists of ruins of the Roman and Hellenistic periods. Petra is known as Raqmu by the locals. The city is located in Arabah Valley, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. The first known settlement is recorded to have belonged to 9000 BC. It was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom in 400 BC.
Stonehenge, United Kingdom
This incredible prehistoric monument is one of the United Kingdom’s most visited attractions and certainly one of its most unique places to visit, drawing huge numbers of visitors each year. The monument is thought to have been erected between 3000-1500 BC, but there is no record of its origin or purpose, leading to all kinds of speculation and myths, some of which suggest religious or astronomical significance.
Located near the city of Salisbury, Stonehenge can be easily visited on a day trip from London.
In 1986 Stonehenge was added to UNESCO’s register of World Heritage sites in a co-listing with Avebury, a Neolithic henge located 17 miles away that is older and larger than its more famous neighbour. Today, nearly 1 million people visit Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Parthenon, Athens, Greece.
This ancient temple to Athena stands as a symbol of the power of Athens and a testament to Greek civilization. Moreover, it provides a sweeping view of Athens and nearby ruins, whose temples and buildings are equally as wondrous. Over the centuries, much of it and the surrounding structures have been destroyed by war and thieves. Luckily, the structure still stands.
Just steps away from modern day Athens, the Parthenon is a powerful sight, glistening in the Mediterranean sun during the day and lit for dramatic effect at night. For first-time visitors to the city, it is an awe inspiring sight and sets the stage for travellers carrying on to other parts of Greece. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Taj Mahal, India.
The perfectly symmetrical Taj Mahal features a 240-foot-tall central dome and an exterior inlaid with semiprecious stones. Widely considered the most beautiful existing example of Mughal architecture, the white marble mausoleum was erected between 1631 and 1648 after Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ordered its construction to honour his late wife. In 1983, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and also has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Visitors to this World Heritage site can explore the grounds’ vast garden featuring long reflecting pools of water and a red sandstone gate.
The Taj sees between two and four million tourists annually, so there have been recent restrictions on tourism in an effort to help protect the site. However, the greatest threat is the air pollution that is destroying the marble.
Chichén Itzá Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
In the flat jungle interior of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, within easy day-tripping distance of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, is the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. This great city of the Mayans was an important centre from the 7th to the 13th centuries and was, for a time, the regional capital.
Today, it is one of the most well-restored Mayan sites in Mexico, offering an astounding glimpse into this culture. It is also one of Mexico’s biggest tourist attractions. The huge pyramid is the most recognizable symbol of Chichen Itza, but the site is very large, with many ruins to explore.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Many people visit Peru for the sole purpose of seeing Machu Picchu, and the journey to the ruins can be an adventure in and of itself, depending on how travellers choose to reach the site. Located in southern Peru, this ruined city lies on top of a mountain that’s only accessible by train or a four-day trek.
Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, it was an important cultural centre for the Inca civilization but was abandoned when the Spanish invaded the region. (It is famously referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas,” though that is actually Vilcabamba). The location was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, and it was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
Roman Colosseum, Italy
One of the most recognizable structures in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Roman Colosseum is the largest building remaining from Roman times. Its imposing presence in the city centre of modern day Rome is a testament to the incredible history of the city and the achievements of the Roman Empire. The Colosseum is also called Flavian Amphitheatre, built in Rome under the Flavian emperors.
Visitors popping up from the nearest subway stop or turning a corner and seeing it for the first time can’t help but be stunned by its immense presence. Construction began on the structure in AD 72 and today, it is still one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world.
To see the Colosseum, a tourist must purchase a ticket. A standard ticket, with access to the first and second tier of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill costs USD 15 per adult, free entry for children under 17 years old and seniors over the age of 65.
While a standard ticket to the Colosseum gives visitors access to the first and the second tier of the structure, there is more to explore for those willing to make an extra effort. There are three more areas of the Colosseum that have been opened for visitors in recent times. The arena floor, the belvedere and the hypogeum are the restricted areas in the Colosseum and can be accessed only through special tours.
Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island is a Chilean island in the south Pacific Ocean, famous for the giant statues known as Moais, which dot the landscape. Created by the Rapa Nui people, who are thought to have inhabited the island from the 12th century onward, hundreds of Moais are spread around the island.
The moai are carved human figures with oversize heads, often resting on massive stone pedestals called ahus. Ahu Tongariki has the largest group of upright moai.
Some are partially toppled, while others stand erect; some stand on ahu (stone platforms), and many still remain at the quarry where they were created. Ranging in size from a metre to 20 metres, each carving is unique and thought to symbolise an ancestor.
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