Destinations

World’s Most Popular Ancient Ruins

Believe it or not, ancient ruins are very popular among tourists. They are one of the few ways modern man can come into contact with the wonders of ancient technology and art and travel back to times long past. Here’s a look at the world’s most famous ancient ruins:

6. Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Established in 1350 by King U-Thong, Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam and one of the largest cities in the world, with a population that peaked at about one million inhabitants, around the year 1700. It was also one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, with three great palaces and over 400 temples.

Ayutthaya was burned down by the Burmese armies in 1767, but even as a shadow of its former self, it manages to draw a huge number of tourists every year, all eager to see the ruins of this wonder of Thailand.

5. Pompeii

Pompeii Temple Ruins

Pompeii Temple Ruins

Located near Naples, in Italy’s Campania region, Pompeii is a ruined Roman city, buried under lava and ashes during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in the year 79 AD. Pompeii was rediscovered by accident in 1748 and the archeological findings that followed, offered great insight into the life of the Roman Empire at its peak.

The ruins of Pompeii are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, with over 2.5 million tourists in 2008.

4. Chichen Itza

El Castillo

El Castillo

One of the finest examples of Maya architecture, Chichen Itza is a large ruin site located in the northern Yucatan Peninsula. Although archeological findings have shown this once great city fell sometime around 1000 AD, the paved roads linking all the major structures and the complex architecture prove just how advanced this ancient civilization was.

El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulkan, was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, after an international vote.

3. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

The most popular tourist attraction in Peru, Machu Picchu has been described by UNESCO as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization”. Built in 1460, at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years later, in the time of the Spanish conquest. Located just 50 miles northwest of the old Inca capital city, Cusco, Machu Picchu was never discovered by the conquistadors and was never looted.

It was rediscovered in 1911, when Hiram Bingham, an American historian, was led to the city ruins by residents of Cusco. Since then it has become an internationally famous tourist site.

2. The Acropolis of Athens

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

Recognized as the greatest architectural complex left to the modern world by Ancient Greece, The Acropolis of Athens is one of the most visited ruin sites on the planet. People from all around the world come to see the famous masterpieces created by artists such as the sculptor Pheidias. The Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, and the small temple Athena Nike, although damaged by natural decay and human intervention, still stand as symbols of Greek culture and art.

In 1975, the Committee for the Conservation of the Monuments on the Acropolis was established and the site is still undergoing conservation and restoration.

1. The Giza Pyramids

Pyramid and The Sphinx

Pyramid and The Sphinx

The Egyptian Pyramids have often been referred to as the most impressive structures ever built, and the Giza pyramids are especially impressive. They are among the largest buildings ever built and the Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of The Seven Wonders of the World, still standing.

Over 10 million tourists visit the Egyptian Pyramids every year, drawn by the mystery of how they were built by a civilization that didn’t possess the modern technology we do today.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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