In a world that is constantly evolving and rich with technology and new experiences it is easy to forget the past. When it comes to globetrotting, we are often drawn to the luxurious locations or cities with the best restaurants or shopping opportunities. However, without the five historical locations featured below having had impact upon history, the world we know today might have been much different. So next time you’re a browsing holidays or want adventure, why not invest some time into experiencing one of the planet’s awe inspiring ancient destinations.
Across the eastern border of holy Israel is the ancient city of Petra. Located in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan, Petra dates back to 300 B.C. Incredible tombs and temples soar over 100 feet tall and were carved into the copper sandstone cliffs and canyons that provide passageways into this unbelievable world.
During its heyday, Petra was a hub for trade, particularly in frankincense and myrrh. Despite being in one of the driest desert location on earth it was home to 30,000 Nabateans. Nomads transformed Petra into an oasis, creating complex water systems hundreds of thousands of years before plumbing was invented.
Petra was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Before the 1800s, the ancient city was left to decay for centuries before a European explorer disguised himself as a Bedouin and snuck his way in to the mysterious location and revealed its historical significance to the world.
The spiritual centre of the Hindu faith and home of the gods, the Temples of Angkor stands other-worldly. One of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the incredible remains hail from the 9th to the 15th century and depict the life of the Khmer Empire.
The entire Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1993, UNESCO embarked upon a plan to protect, excavate and develop all of the ancient monuments and objects. Beforehand, the site had been on UNESCO’s danger list due to illicit excavation, pillaging of sites and landmines.
Angkor Wat is the Capital Temple of the complex and the image synonymous with the complex. Unlike most Khmer temples which face east, Angkor Wat faces west, leading many to believe it was used primarily for funerals. Visitors can purchase temple passes to enter Angkor Wat and many of the other celebrated locations in the Angkor complex.
A global icon, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most famous Inca citadel. Nestled on the slopes of mountains and teetering on the edges of cliffs, the site still has an air of mystery even during the high season which sees an influx of tourists.
At its peak, Machu Picchu stands 7,973ft above sea level and spreads as far as a village across the craggy rocks and fertile green plains. Described as an ‘historical sanctuary’ by UNESCO, it is known the settlements are both religious and residential. However, many believe that the positioning was of academic and cosmic importance to the Incas too.
A popular way to travel to Machu Picchu is via the High Inca Trail. The 16-day day hike is for those with strong thighs and lungs of steel as the trek can be strenuous, despite the help of mules and horses. The Salcantay path includes time in Cuzco, Ollantaytambo and Pisac in the Sacred Valley.
The most recognised monuments in Africa, the Egyptian pyramids do not need an introduction. As the only surviving member of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, the pyramids are one of the most visited attractions in the world.
Visitors escape the chaos of Cairo by heading to the west bank of the Nile to the city of Giza and the home of the Egyptian monuments. The Great Sphinx lies on the plains beside the three iconic pyramids, all of which were built as royal mausoleums around the 26th century B.C.
The most dominating is the Great Pyramid, standing 139 meters tall. It is the oldest and largest pyramid and referred to as ‘Ikhet’ by the Egyptians, which means ‘Glorious Light’. There are three known chambers located inside the pyramid and it is believed to be the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu who ruled Fourth Dynasty Egypt. Visitors can enter the dark tunnels inside the pyramid with a guide, but it is not for the claustrophobic.
The ivory-white of India’s incredible mausoleum contrasts majestically against the blue skies of Agra. The Taj Mahal sits on the south bank of the Yumuna River and building work finished on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1653. It was celebrated by UNESCO in 1983 and described as ‘the jewel of Muslim art in Indian and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage’.
The incredible domed tomb and its four minarets are the central focus of the Taj Mahal complex but visitors also revel in the beauty of the square Mughal garden which sits between the Great Gate and the main entrance of the tomb itself.
Visitors can enter the Taj Mahal every day except Fridays, which is when the complex is open for prayers at the mosque. During Ramadan, the Taj Mahal is also closed to guests.