12 Historical Places You Need to See in Your Lifetime

    Pack your bags.

    It turns out that you don't have to be Indiana Jones or Nicolas Cage in National Treasure to explore a piece of history. In fact, there are tons of amazing historical sites that you can (and should!) go see today, tomorrow, or sometime very soon.

    The Pyramids at Giza - Outside Cairo, Egypt

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    You already know what and where these are, right? They may be the most famous and most immediately-recognizable historical monuments in the world. While we may still not know exactly how they were built, this pyramid complex, made up of three large and three smaller pyramids, as well as the sculpture of the Great Sphinx, have sat at the center of human imagination for centuries. 

    Stonehenge - Salisbury, England

    Photo Credit: Pixabay

    While you can no longer actually go inside the stone circle at Stonehenge, you can still get pretty close to one of the world's most famous megalithic structures, located near Salisbury, England. Located in the midst of a large series of prehistoric earthworks, including hundreds of burial mounds, the precise origin and function of Stonehenge remains hotly debated to this day. While you’re up north in England, consider also checking out the henge at Avebury. This massive circle is over 1,000 feet in diameter. In many ways, it’s even more impressive than Stonehenge. 

    Petra - Jordan

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Perhaps best known as the entrance to the resting place of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra actually has a somewhat uncertain history. We know for sure that it is carved into the side of a canyon in present-day Jordan. Also called the Rose City, it remains remarkably well-preserved centuries after its initial construction. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. 

    Machu Picchu - Peru

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Made famous by countless beautiful photographs, the ruined Incan city of Machu Picchu is located in a relatively inhospitable location: the top of a mountain accessible only by train or a four-day hike. Despite this, it is such a popular tourist destination that recently limitations have been placed on how many people could visit at a time, in order to help preserve the incredible ruins 

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    Angkor Wat - Cambodia

    Photo Credit: Flickr

    The largest religious monument in the world, the sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat covers more than 400 acres and was once the heart of the massive capital city of the Khmer Empire. Today, the temple complex is crowded with people once again, though this time it is tour groups coming to explore the splendor of this incredible historic site. 

    Chichen Itza - Yucatan, Mexico

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Having been restored substantially in recent years, the ruins of the Mayan city of Chichen Itza are the second-most visited archaeological site in Mexico. Chichen Itza translates to "at the mouth of the well of Itza," referencing the Itza people who were the dominant lineage in the region. Itza may also refer to the natural sinkholes or cenotes that are nearby, including the famous Cenote Sagrado, also known as the "Well of Sacrifice," where archaeologists believe that the Maya sacrificed people and objects to the rain god Chaac. 

    Delphi - Mount Parnassus, Greece

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Greece and Italy have so many famous ruins that it can be hard to choose from among them. While the go-to locations for most modern day adventurers are places like the Parthenon in Greece or the Colosseum in Rome, Delphi is sometimes forgotten, even though it housed the most famed oracle of the ancient world. Ancient Grecians considered Delphi the center of the world. Just a short hike above the main Delphi temple ruins is the Corycian cave, a place sacred to the Corycian Nymphs as well as the Muses and even Pan. 

    Hagia Sophia - Istanbul, Turkey

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Odds are you've seen it in a movie somewhere, but that's nothing compared to standing before the Hagia Sophia. Originally constructed as a Greek Orthodox basilica, this magnificent structure in modern-day Turkey later became a mosque in the Ottoman Empire and is now a museum, though there have been recent calls to convert it back into a mosque. Hagia Sophia is the quintessential example of Byzantine architecture.

    Neuschwanstein Castle - Schwangau, Germany

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    When you try to picture a fairytale castle, chances are what appears in your mind is something similar to Neuschwanstein Castle. That's not by accident, as the castle actually served as the inspiration for Disneyland's famous Sleeping Beauty Castle. Originally built by King Ludwig II, the castle was first opened to the public just seven weeks after his death in 1886. The picturesque structure is perched on the top of a tall hill in Bavaria, Germany. 

    Tikal - Guatemala

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Like many of the destinations on this list, this Mayan ruin in Guatemala has featured prominently in film, perhaps most notably standing in for part of a Rebel base in Star Wars: A New Hope. It’s also one of the best-preserved Mayan ruins that can be visited by the public.

    Wat Phra Si Sanphet - Ayuttaya, Thailand

    Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Once the grandest temple in what was then Thailand's capital city of Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was largely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Today, three distinct Chedis that were part of the original temple structure can still be seen, their bell-shaped design giving the ruin an unmistakable profile. The Chedis were places of prayer and meditation, built atop the burial places of kings. Other foundations and smaller Chedis around the area are also intact.  

    These are just a few of the incredible historical sites that tourists and explorers can still visit today. If you have an itch of wanderlust, a thirst for adventure, or simply want to learn more about the fascinating history of human civilization, visit any of these sites or many more around the world.

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    Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons

    [Via Places to See in Your Lifetime, Telegraph, Nomadic Matt] 

    Ancient historyEuropeAsiaSouth America

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