Ancient ruins of the world serve as sources of amusement to people from all walks of life. Historians, archaeologists, students, religious leaders and ordinary people are all interested in these sites. They are the links between the current generation and the world that was. These ruins give us a glimpse of the lives of the people in the past, the way they built their structures and how they interacted with each other. They serve as sources of endless knowledge and mystery.
While local communities take immense pride in these sites the international community as a whole also recognizes their importance. Thus, many of them have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The objective is to ensure their protection and preservation.
The following is a list of some of the most marvellous ancient ruins of the world. The list contains one site from each continent.
#1 Palenque, Mexico
These Mayan ruins exemplify the rich cultural heritage of the community. The city is known for its splendid architecture and carefully planned layout. Like most ancient settlements, Palenque was located on the bank of the Usumacinta River. It was also close to a trade route. Palenque may not be the largest of ancient settlements but its innovative architecture is almost incomparable. It continues to be one of the most studied ancient ruins as there is much to learn from the hieroglyphics which adorn the walls of its buildings. Despite detailed documentation, a lot remains unknown about this city. Mainly because only a small proportion of the ancient ruins has actually been excavated.
#2 Machu Picchu, Peru
Towering over the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s best known ancient ruins. Expansive forests surround the vast area of the site. The primary material used in all the structures is grey granite. Thus, there is uniformity in its planning and design. The Temple of the Sun is one of its most remarkable structures. It held great spiritual significance for the people of the Incan empire. Other notable structures include the Intihuatana stone and the Temple of the Three Windows.
“Few romances can ever surpass that of the granite citadel on top of the beetling precipices of Machu Picchu, the crown of Inca Land.”Hiram Bingham
#3 Luxor Temple, Egypt
The Luxor Temple boasts of a very rich cultural past. Tutankhamen and Rameses II along with many other great rulers were responsible for constructing this grand structure. It is also often associated with Alexander the Great. In fact, the rear end has a shrine dedicated to him. The temple even served as a fortress in the Roman empire. Moreover, it continues to amaze visitors with its vastness and splendour. It continues to serve as an important place of worship.
#4 Pompeii, Italy
A volcanic eruption destroyed the city of Pompeii completely. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius took the lives of thousands of people and buried an entire civilization under a cloud of smoke. It was rediscovered almost two thousand years later. It soon became a source of great curiosity and intrigue for historians and archaeologists. Since the ash had helped in preserving the ancient Roman city it was quite easy to study the ruins. Buildings, skeletons as well as other smaller objects were found intact after the area was excavated. The city was also home to the Temple of Isis. Individual homes also had statues of the goddess.
Many mural paintings were also found in these ancient ruins. Europe’s wealthiest accepted art forms from the period with open arms.
#5 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Cambodia is home to many ancient ruins. But, Angkor Wat is probably the most well-known of all of them. The temple which is a dedication to the Hindu deity Vishnu is the world’s largest religious monument. It boasts of magnificent architecture from the Khmer empire. The Angkor Wat is world-famous for the intricate designs that adorn its walls. The detailed carvings tell a story of their own and add to the temple’s grandeur. The temple is a replica of the entire universe. Thus, walking through the main entrance to the tower at the rear end is a metaphor for travelling back to the creation of the universe.
This list is very brief and simply brushes at the tip of the mountain that is the record of the ancient ruins of the world. Moreover, historians believe that there are several thousand more that we are completely unaware of.
Ancient cities and buildings form an integral part of any country’s history and culture. They often bring about a sense of national pride. Most modern cities maintain little to no tie with their ancient counterparts. But, that does not mean that their importance is completely lost. All over the world, thousands of dollars go into studying these ancient civilizations.
Moreover, countries spend extensively to ensure the preservation of these ancient structures. They serve as important tourist attractions. As a result, they bring in huge amounts of revenue every year. Thus, these ancient ruins are symbols of cultural pride as well as a source of revenue for the countries as well as the world.