10. European Castles
Dotted all throughout Europe there are thousands of Medieval and Baroque castles that conjure up images of fairytale princesses and chivalrous knights. They were not only built as protective fortresses but also as the homes of feudal lords and kings that showed their wealth and status. Some of the most impressive examples include Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, France’s Palace of Versailles, Ireland’s Blarney Castle, Sintra Palace in Portugal, Turkey’s Topkapi Palace, Prague Castle in the Czech Republic and Leeds Castle in England.
While there are several theories around the functionality of this Neolithic monument, no one can argue that within minutes of arriving you find yourself pondering the mystery of Stonehenge. The major rivaling theories are that it was either built as an astronomical observatory or religious site while others believe that the bluestones were thought to have healing powers. Construction first began around 3000 BC and was carried out in three separate stages hundreds of years apart.
8. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is easily the most recognizable temple in Cambodia as well as one of the most beautiful. It was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II to act as his state temple and capital city. The best example of Khmer architecture, which includes many bas-reliefs and devatas, Angkor Wat is unique in that it is the only such temple that is oriented towards the west.
7. The Great Wall of China
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall is an impressive feat of engineering. The Wall is the product of 21 centuries of building and rebuilding that began in the 5th century BC, and was used to protect the Empire of China from Xiongnu attacks. Although sections of the current wall, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty, are in total disrepair, near tourist centers it has been well preserved and even reconstructed to give visitors a glimpse of its former glory.
6. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, known to many as “The Lost City of the Incas”, is the most impressive remainder of the Incan Empire. It was built in 1462 AD and abandoned only a hundred years later, which saved it from plunder and destruction at the hands of Spanish conquistadors, who were unaware of its location. American historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. The three primary structures are the Temple of the Sun, the Room of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana Stone, an astronomical clock or calendar that has been dubbed “The Hitching Point of the Sun”.
5. The Parthenon
The Parthenon is an elegantly crafted symbol, not only of Ancient Greece, but also of the very roots of democracy. The current building was built Pericles in the mid-5th century BC as a Doric temple to the goddess Athena and also as a treasury for the Delian League. Many of the sculptures, referred to as the marbles, have been removed and now reside in the British Museum, the Louvre and other museums despite efforts by the Greek government to return them to their proper place.
4. The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the most stunning structures in the world and the story behind its construction is just as beautiful. The Taj was built between 1632 and 1653 by Emperor Shah Jahan to serve as a mausoleum and monument to his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It was constructed by twenty thousand workers from marble and inlayed with twenty-eight different kinds of precious and semi-precious stones from across India and Asia.
The ancient Nabataean capital of Petra was built around 100 BC and was a site where many ancient trade routes converged making its residents very wealthy. Some of the major attractions are the Theatre and the Monastery, but the most recognizable is the Al Khazneh, commonly referred to as the Treasury, that’s use was a mystery until a recant excavation found that the Khazneh is really a tomb, probably of the royal family.
The Eternal City is filled with some of the most stunning and iconic architecture in the world. Layers of Ancient Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings are to be seen at almost every turn. However, no trip to Rome is complete without taking in the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Circus Maximus, the Arch of Constantine, Fontana di Trevi and at least one of the many historic piazzas throughout the city.
Egypt it one of the most culturally rich countries in the world and one of the most ancient tourist spots in the world having played host to many visitors from ancient Greece and Rome. Of course the site that is most synonymous with the image of Egypt is the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx at Giza. Other must see sights include the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel, the Egyptian Museum, Saqqara, Luxor and Karnak, all of which will make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time to the lands of Ancient Egypt