Published on : Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Exploring ancient ruins and the deepest historical mysteries of the world is always a magical experience. The world is home to various such sites that sheltered many flourishing civilisations before fading away into the pages of history. Take a look at some of the world’s most fascinating ancient ruins that also serve as great tourist destinations at present.
Stonewall of Theopetra Cave, Greece
Considered to be the oldest ruin in the world, the Stonewall at the entrance of the Theopetra Cave in Greece is the earliest man-made construction ever found. Archeologists are of the opinion that the wall dates back to early 23,000 years and that the wall was made by the inhabitants of the cave for protection from the cold outside. Radio carbon evidence states that people have inhabited the cave for nearly 50,000 years. The cave was opened to the public in 2009 and later again in 2016 but was closed again due to safety concerns.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The 15th century Inca ruins located in the Machupicchu district in Peru is also known as the lost city of Incas. Currently standing as one of South America’s most spectacular sites, Machu Picchu consists of three focal areas- Intihuatana, a ritual stone similar to an astronomical clock; the Temple of the Sun, a sacred worship site; and the Room of the Three Windows that offers stunning views of the sunrise. The citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the key political, religious and cultural centres of the Inca Empire, was created by joining enormous stone blocks without using mortar at the top of the mountain. The magnificent stone complex is also home to hundreds of buildings, temples, baths and an intricate water delivery system.
Known as one of the world’s most spectacular archeological sites and Jordan’s key tourist attraction, Petra is a city built around 4th century BCE that continued to thrive until a massive earthquake destructed much of the city in 4th century AD. It was around 1812 that the Swiss explorer Johannes Burckhardt rediscovered the site, after which it was opened to the visitors. Petra is half built and half carved into rock and its remains consists of tombs, channels, tunnels, dams and temples. The site is also known as the “Rose-City” due to the pink hue of its rock-cut architecture.
Ruins of Ayutthaya, Thailand
The second capital of the Siamese Kingdom, the historical city of Ayutthaya was built back in 1350 by King Ramathinodi. Destroyed by the Burmese Army in 1767, the city was majorly restored in 1935 after a small-scale restoration by King Mongkut between 1854 and 1868. Ayutthaya was mainly built of wood and currently features Buddhist monasteries, remains of large palaces, temples, statues of Lord Buddha and a unique water management system. The remaining ruins of Ayutthaya show a combination of different architectural styles from Japan, China, Persia, India and Europe.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
One of the most famous and most visited ruins in Mexico, Chichen Itza was built by the Mayan people of the Yucatan Peninsula around 6th century AD. Built over thousands of years, Chichen Itza was home to dozens of ancient pre-Columbian cities. It also served as a thriving metropolis with a population of nearly 50,000 people. It is also home to El Castillo, the popular Mesoamerican step-pyramid that served as a temple to the Kukulkan God. However, the reason behind the abandonment of Chichen Itza is still shrouded in mystery and unknown to the day.
Another of the world’s most recognised pre-historic ruins, Stonehengeis located in Wiltshare, England. It is believed that the monument was constructed around 3000 through 1500 BCE and spans a history of nearly 4500 years. The unique construction is made up of two different types of stones, a smaller bluestone and larger sarsen, both of which have been arranged concentrically. The purpose of Stonehenge is unknown to the day and remains shrouded in mystery, with several theories suggesting it served as an ancient burial ground, solar calendar or a site for Pagan worship.
One of the largest excavated sites in the Americas and the most popular landmark in Guatemala, Tikal is an ancient Mayan city that served as an important urban and cultural centre of Guatemala. Majority of the buildings were constructed around 8th century AD when Tikal stood as the greatest Mayan city. It was built using limestones. The Tikal ruins are currently encircled with 222 square miles of jungle and consist of number of palaces from the pre-Columbian Mayan civilisation as well as temples, small pyramids, residences, tombs and other monuments.
Acropolis of Athens, Greece
Recognised as one of the greatest ruins of the world, the Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel situated above the city of Athens on a rocky outcrop and contains the ruins of various prominent primeval buildings including the famous Parthenon, the ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The ancient buildings and monuments have mostly been built using limestone rock and hold great architectural and historical value. These buildings are also associated with the ancient history of Athens. The Acropolis has witnessed several wars, attacks and natural calamities over the years and was marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The largest ancient Roman ruins in Morocco, Volubilis was inhabited for more than thousands of years, abandoned in 11thcentury and destroyed by a massive earthquake in the 18th century. The ruins of Volubilis show that different civilisations thrived here in different time periods. At present, the remains feature a 2.6 km long ancient Roman wall, the Capitoline temple, basilica and major parts of a triumphal arch built to honour the Roman emperor Caracalla back in 217. It consists of several small houses and decorated palaces that were mostly constructed using grey-blue limestones.
Moai Statues Easter Island, Chile
Often considered to be one of the most intriguing mysteries of the world, the inception and collapse of Easter Island and its Moai Statues is still unknown to mankind. Believed to be built between 1200 and 1650 AD without the use of wheels of animals, nearly 1000 of these statues are scattered throughout the island. It is also said that 95% of the moais were carved out of the volcano Raraku. Theories suggest that these statues were made to honour chieftains and other important people. Common beliefs go as far as stating that the statues were made by aliens.