While modern skylines and structures can be impressive their own right, there’s something incredibly awe-inspiring and magical about ancient buildings which were created without the aid of modern technology and have managed to withstand centuries of corrosion and natural disasters to remain standing today. The world has an impressive array of well-preserved ancient ruins dotted around the globe. From ancient jungle temples to mountain civilisations, each is unique and beautiful in its own way. We’ve put together a pick of our top 5 ancient ruins that we feel everyone should add to their bucket list.
Angkor Wat – Cambodia
One of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia, the temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world covering a total of 402 acres. Located in the north east of Cambodia outside of the town of Siem Reap, the temple was built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, later becoming a Buddhist temple. Walt Disney’s main inspiration for the Jungle Book, be sure to check out the temple of Ta Prohm while in the area. Unlike the majority of the temples in the area, Ta Prohm has remains largely unrestored creating one of the most unique and picturesque ruins in the world with tree trunks and flowers intertwining amongst the ruins.
Machu Picchu – Peru
Perhaps the most impressive of all of the world’s ruins, the Inca citadel sits on the peak of a mountain ridge 2500 feet above sea level. Built in the 15th century, Machu Picchu sits above the sacred valley, North West of the city of Cuzco and was only discovered by western explorers in 1911. Clad in history, the Incas managed to hide Machu Picchu from the Spanish who were ransacking their cities of gold and riches. The ruins are defined by their steep terraces which were believed to be used for agricultural purposes and the misty peak of Huayna Picchu overlooking the ruins. Architecturally, the buildings were built in a methodical and advanced manner for the time, allowing the structures to withstand many strong earthquakes which are common in the region. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, walking the three day Inca Trail trek through the Andes to the ruins is a wonderful way to fully appreciate the beauty and remoteness of the region.
The Asclepion Temple – Greece
Archaeologically speaking, Greece is a Makkah of historical sites and buildings. What is more impressive is the age of their ruins dating back to 500 BC. All of Greece’s ancient structures are impressive, but what are even more intriguing are the stories behind the buildings our favourite of which is the Aclepion Temple on the island of Kos. Part of the array of historical sites on Kos, the temple is famous for being the world’s first ever hospital. Used as a place of healing, the well preserved temple which was built in the 5th century BC is dedicated to the God of Medicine, Asclepious.
Tikal – Guatemala
Buried deep within the Guatemalan rainforest, Tikal is the most impressive of the ancient Mayan ruins. Quite often overshadowed by its larger neighbour in Mexico, Chichen Itza, Tikal is an ancient city defined by its impressive temples rising 47 meters above the ground. It is hard to feel like Lara Kroft while standing at the top of one of the temples. A particularly mesmerising experience, visitors can go watch the sunrise over the jungle from the top of one of the structures. Listen to the sound of the jungle waking up while you watch a pair of Toucans dance above the trees. The rainforest around the jungle is one of the most fertile in the world, if you’re really lucky you may catch a glimpse of a jaguar. Be sure to listen out for the guttural sounds of the howler monkeys as well.
Stonehenge – England
The prehistoric monument located in the South of England is known for its dramatic ring of 8 standing stones. The site might not appear as impressive as some of the other structures on this list when you compare size however when you consider each stone is around 13ft tall and weighs around 25 tons, the fact that the stones have stood tall since the stone age is very impressive. One of the most famous landmarks in the UK, the site is believed to have been constructed between 2400 and 2200 BC.