When I was young I harbored dreams of being an archaeologist. Although I didn’t make it my profession, I have never lost my love of ancient history. That means I’ve visited some of the world’s best ancient sites (still got loads on my bucket list though!) There are so many magnificent destinations so I’ve narrowed down the list for you.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is definitely one of the top destinations for history buffs. Hidden in the midst of a jungle on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountain range, the location is home to an amazing array of ancient remains that date back to the extinct Inca civilization. Know as the Lost City, Machu Picchu was built in 1462 and was abandoned a century later. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it takes a four-day hike to arrive at the remains!
2. Petra, Jordan
Known as the Red Rose City and filled with awe inspiring structures carved out of sandstone, Petra was once a busy hub of trade including spices and silk that has connections with India, China, Egypt and Greece. Today it is regarded as an historical treasure and receives up to thousands of visitors every day. The city’s monastery, treasury and theatre are among its most popular sites.
3. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This ancient city in the heart of Cambodia was once the centre of the mighty Khmer Empire that ruled South East Asia. As the empire began to fade, they left behind this array of magnificent buildings and temples, and Angkor Wat was eventually reclaimed by the jungle and remained undiscovered all the way up until the 1860s. Travelers can visit the stunning temples and wind their way through the incredibly maze of Preah Kan.
4. Chichen Itza, Mexico
This amazing destination is hidden deep in the jungle of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the preserved ruins give you an insight in to one of the largest cities of the Mayan civilization. The site is filled with amazing ceremonial structures like pyramids, palaces and temples, with the Temple Of The Warriors being one of the most amazing ancient ruins you are ever likely to see.
5. Khajuraho, India
This temple town in the north of India is home to one of the largest groups of medieval Jain and Hindu temples in the world. Presenting stunning feats of medieval architecture, there are 20 remaining temples from what were originally a staggering group of 85. Richly decorated both inside and out with an array of intricate carved sculptures, the temples present a eulogy to love and life, creating an interesting link with the home country of the Karma Sutra!
6. Giza Plateau, Egypt
Nestled on the west bank of the iconic River Nile, the Giza Plateau boasts many of the most amazing and impressive relics and ruins of the ancient world. Structures like the Great Pyramid, the Great Sphinx and numerous other large temples cannot truly be appreciated until you have seen them in person. It is almost unbelievable to think that these buildings and monuments were constructed in a time before modern tools and vehicles!
7. Acropolis of Athens, Greece
The acropolis is undoubtedly one of the defining images of ancient civilization that we have in modern times. One of the lasting symbols of the Ancient Greeks, the flat-topped rock sitting 150 meters above sea level is an absolute masterpiece of architecture, with the Parthenon, dedicated to Greek goddess Athena, perhaps being the most stunning structure of all.
8. Stonehenge, England
The huge stone circle standing on Salisbury Plain remains one of mankind's greatest mysteries, although generally some theories have been agreed upon. What motivated an ancient tribe to haul massive (absolutely massive) stone monoliths from hundreds of miles away to build what is believed to be a temple dedicated to the sun, and just how did they do it?
9. Rome, Italy
Despite being a modern capital city, Rome remains one of the most incredible places to visit sites of ancient history. Ruling most of the known world for a lengthy time, the might of the Roman Empire can be seen in the Coliseum, the forum, the Pantheon and so many sites around the city like, gates, wells, temple columns, mausoleums and other monuments.
10. Ephesus, Turkey
Ephesus in modern day Turkey is one of those ancient cities that has been shaped by various imperial dynasties. Known to have existed since the 10th Century BCE, it was settled and ruled by Greeks, Romans and Persians. Today the ruins you can visit have a definite Roman-Greco look and feel. The remains of temples, columns and arches are considered one of Turkey's premier tourist attractions.
Which ancient historic destinations have you got on your bucket list?