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While modernization is busy engulfing us, there are a few sites in the world that have stood the test of time. These sites have faced natural calamities, human brutalities and long passages of time to stand proudly, shoulder to shoulder, with the modern world.
Ready to take a step back in time and explore the mysteries of these spellbinding archaeological sites across the globe?
18 Enchanting Archaeological Sites In The World
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is perched high on the slopes of the Andes. Dating back to the 15th century, this is a citadel belonging to the Inca Empire. It is believed that this site fell to ruins after most of the residents died due to smallpox.
Must see: The Sun Gate, the Inca bridge and Intihuatana (sun dial)
2. Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient capital city of Polonnaruwa was established by the Chola Dynasty sometime during the 10th century. Its ruins are one of the best kept archaeological sites in the country. The entire city was abandoned after the king decided to move the capital to present day Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Must see: Polonnaruwa Vatadage, the Royal Palace and the Rankot Vihara.
3. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The most popular of all the archaeological sites in the world, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt need no introduction! Built as tombs for the Pharaohs Khufu, Menkaure and Khafre, the pyramids date back to 2550 BC.
Must see: The Great Pyramid (the largest of all pyramids of Giza), the Sphinx and the Light and Sound show that takes place in the night, on the walls of the pyramids.
4. Petra, Jordan
A historical city situated in the Jebel al-Madhbah mountain in Jordan, Petra boasts of amazing architecture and brilliant engineering. It was a kingdom belonging to the Nabateans who were a nomadic tribe living in the desert. Throughout its long history, Petra has faced earthquakes as well as human abandonment.
Must see: Al-Khazneh, the Siq gorge and the Ad Deir monastery.
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5. Hampi, India
The capital of the Vijayanagar Empire back in the 14th century, the magnificent city of Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. Spread across 4,100 hectares, many of the ruins in Hampi are in top condition and hence offer a window into the city’s glorious past. Although most of the ruins belong to the 14th century, relics and remains have been found in the area that belong to 2nd, 3rd and 8th centuries as well.
Must see: Virupaksha Temple, Vitthala Temple and Hampi Bazaar
6. Acropolis of Athens, Greece
Overlooking the city of Athens, Greece, the Acropolis of Athens is a citadel with a history that goes back to as far as the 4th century BC. With beautiful ancient architecture still standing and with stunning views of Athens, this is one of the most photographed archaeological sites in the world.
Must see: The Propylaea, the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike.
7. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, China
Famous for its terracotta warriors, the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor was built over a period of 38 years, from 246 to 208 BC. So huge is the site of this archaeological marvel that, despite being discovered in 1974, only half of it has been excavated till date. So many mysteries still remain to be uncovered…
Must see: The terracotta warriors, the actual mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the humongous bronze horse chariot.
8. Pompeii, Italy
Pompeii is a haunting example of how brutal nature can be. Located at the base of the active volcano of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii got buried under a thick blanket of volcanic ash when the volcano erupted in the year 79 AD. What remains today are ghosts of a thriving city’s past.
Must see: The Forum of Pompeii, Pompeii amphitheatre and the temple of Apollo.
9. Easter Island, Chile
One of the most enigmatic archaeological sites in the world, Easter Island is where you will find the humungous statues called moai. Sculpted by the Rapa Nui people between the 13th and 16th centuries, Easter Island is home to over 900 moais.
Must see: The moais at Ahu Tongariki, the Rano Raraku crater located within the Rapa Nui National Park and the entire national park itself.
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10. Mohenjo Daro, Pakistan
A well-preserved city belonging to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, Mohenjo Daro dates back to 2500 BC. Human settlement and civilization’s largest city back then, Mohenjo Daro boasts of such good civic planning that today’s politicians and urban planners should take notes!
Must see: The Great Bath, the Buddhist stupa and the museum located on site.
11. Angkor, Cambodia
Home to the mesmerizing Angkor Wat temple, the ancient city of Angkor in Cambodia belonged to the Khmer Empire. The city has archaeological finds from the 9th century to the 15th century. Spread across approximately 400 km², the decline of Angkor is attributed to several reasons – wars, natural calamities, decline of public works and changes in state religion.
Must see: The Angkor Wat Temple, the Bayon Temple and the Banteay Srei temple.
12. Nokalakevi, Georgia
An ancient fortress perched on the banks of the Tekhuri River in Georgia, Nokalakevi dates back to the 4th century AD. And although excavations are still going on, sufficient proof has been found to claim that the history of this fortress goes way back to the 8th century BC, during the Iron age.
Must see: The remains of the fortifications, the Forty Martyrs Church and the bath houses.
13. Gobustan National Park, Azerbaijan
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Gobustan National Park in Azerbaijan has over 6,000 rock carvings dating back between 5,000 to 40,000 years. The rock carvings depict various forms – from humans to animals, boats, sun, stars to dance rituals and a lot more. You will also find several caves and burial sites at this archaeological site.
Must see: The rock carvings, the mud volcanoes and the intriguing caves.
14. Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
The beautiful city of Samarkand is home to the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel, also known as the Tomb of Daniel. Revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims, it is believed that this mausoleum is home to the remains of Prophet Daniel; however, note that this is not the only place in the world that claims that it has the remains of and is the final resting place of the prophet.
Must see: The sarcophagus that holds the remains of the prophet. The spring water available on the premises is said to have healing powers.
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15. Hili Archaeological Park, United Arab Emirates
Located on the outskirts of the emirate of Al Ain, the Hili Archaeological Park has archaeological ruins that belong to the Umm An Nar period, more popularly known as the Bronze age (2500 to 2000 BC).
Must see: Hili Grand Tomb, Hili 8 fort and the beautiful Hili public garden.
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16. Augusta Raurica, Switzerland
An extremely well preserved Roman archaeological site in the charming country of Switzerland, Augusta Raurica is situated on the banks of the Rhine river. It was established in the 44th century BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus. It is believed to have fallen to its current state due to a civil war that broke out after the death of Julius Caesar.
Must see: The ancient theatre, the museum and the Roman house.
17. Chichén Itzá, Mexico
Spread across approximately 10 km², the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá is as mesmerizing as it is enigmatic. Founded sometime during the 6th century BC, the city follows the Puuc style of architecture and you can see several of its intricate examples spread all across Chichén Itzá. The downfall and abandonment of this once flourishing city is attributed to the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Must see: The famous El Castillo (Temple of Kukulcan), the Casa de las Monjas and the Temple of a Thousand Warriors.
18. Cappadocia, Turkey
One of the most stunning archaeological sites in the world, the interesting, and kind of funky, landscape of Cappadocia,Turkey, was formed 60 million years ago, due to the erosion of layers and layers of lava and lava ash. Human settlement in the region dates back to the Paleolithic era; so basically, you will be taking a step way back in time when you visit Cappadocia!
Must see: Pigeon valley, Uchisar Castle, Goreme Open-Air Museum.
These 18 archaeological sites in the world will make you feel like you are a time traveller! And, while we believe in the existence of these sites due to their archaeological finding, we can’t help but think… What if Atlantis, yes, that legendary island mentioned in Plato’s Timaeus, what if it is discovered soon? What mysteries would we uncover? What culture would we get to see? What stories will unfold? Only time will tell…