A large Mayan community once thrived here between 700AD and 900AD as this was the centre of ancient Mayan pilgrimages for over 1000 years before being conquered by Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500′s. The site has been largely restored now, bringing many details back to their former glory, after years of lying in ruins in a mess of jungle growth. There are many buildings at Chichen Itza, with the most famous of all being The Pyramid of Kukulcan (El Castillo); a tiered pyramid with stairs running up each face; you can no longer climb any of the buildings, but the shear sight of these structures is usually enough for most visitors.
As the 2nd most visited archeological site in Mexico, it can get very hot and busy in the later part of the morning when tour buses arrive full of people and the sun starts blazing down on everyone, so try and arrive soon after it opens at 8am. The site is pretty big, covering 4 square miles, so if you can, try and stay overnight for a better understanding of the history of this wonder.
Christ The Redeemer
This massive statue of Jesus is just under 40meters tall and situated on the top of a 700meter mountain, overlooking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Built between 1922 and 1931, Christ The Redeemer is the second largest art deco statue in the world and is surrounded by the beautiful Tijuca Forest National Park, making this one of the most sacred Christian landmarks in Brazil, if not the world.
Listed as one the new wonders of the world in 2007, this is still a very popular site for non-christians due to the breathtaking panoramic views from the top of the mountain. It took 9 years to construct and was finished in 1931 and cost roughly £3million in today’s money. It’s been damaged by lightening and vandalism in recent years, but the Brazilians are always quick to repair any damages to its beloved national landmark.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest works of Roman architecture, The Colosseum was built in 72AD and only took 8 years to build, which was very fast at the time for this type of structure. Situated in the centre of Rome, Italy, it’s the largest building ever built by the Roman empire, capable of seating over 50,000 spectators; it’s now become an incredibly popular tourist hotspot.
As with most buildings nearly 2000 years old, it’s been through many changes and holds historical significance for a variety of reasons. The Colosseum was used most famously for gladiatorial contests, along with executions, animal hunts and theatre. The building has had many uses, but holds particular significance as a Christian shrine for Roman Catholics over the world.
The Colosseum currently stands partially in ruins from where it has been damaged by devastating earthquakes and stone robbers in the past, but overall, it’s not looking too bad for a building fast approaching 2000 years of use.
Great Wall Of China
Built to protect parts of the northern border of the Chinese Empire, the Great Wall of China stretches along northern China and the southern edge of Inner Mongolia for 5,500 miles. The wall has been built, rebuilt and changed many times over its life, with the earliest parts of the wall dating back to the 7th century BC. However, most of the wall that you would see to day if you visited, was built by the Ming Dynasty up until the 1640′s, with some areas having 2 walls running parallel from where different dynasties have worked on it.
The tourist hotspots are very well preserved and in some areas, hugely renovated, but that’s not typical of the whole wall. A large amount of it is in disrepair, due to the sheer length of it. As it was built from local materials, some of those materials have not been adequate and have eroded over the years, and in some cases, the locals have reclaimed parts of the wall as a cheap source for building material. Overall though, it’s a sight to see for yourself, with large parts of it that you can still walk along.
Located at the end of the Inca Trail in the mountain range above Urubamba Valley in Peru, Machu Picchu is relatively intact compared to many other sites in the country, and this is due to the high altitude of its location. Also known as the Lost City of the Incas, the Inca rulers left it befind when the Spanish conquest came in 1500 AD, but because of the location the Spanish didn’t even know that the site existed, meaning that it was left untouched by the fighting.
Building started around 1400 AD, but the site was only known locally until the 20th century when an American historian brought it to the attention of the rest of the world. Since then, this amazingly preserved mountain top town has undergone restorations, become a World Heritage Site, a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and a tourist hotspot for Peru.
If you’re a fan of trekking to far away places and beautiful, historic, panorama views from the top of a mountain, then this is definitely the place for you.
This has to be one of the most incredible man-made sites in the world; Petra, Jordan, is a half built and half-carved into the rock and is surrounded by mountains full of passageways and gorges. Petra is roughly 2500 years old and thrived at it’s location due to the innovations that meant being able to control the waterflow in the harsh desert terrain.
The most famous part of Petra would be the Monastery, which you’re likely to have seen in multiple movies such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Religion played a large part in the history of this site, but seeing as it was founded before the birth of Christ, it wasn’t until about the 300AD that Christianity appeared in the area and started using some of the famous tombs as churches.
Petra is mostly ruins these days, and is the most popular tourist site in Jordan. The decline came about when the Romans came into power and the combination of some poor decisions and an earthquake crippled the city’s water management system which meant it wasn’t long until the city was barely being used at all anymore. It’s an incredible site to see in person, if not for the history, then at least for the craftsmanship that existed all those years ago.
This world famous mausoleum was built for the third wife of Emperor Shah Jahan, back in 1632 after her death during childbirth of their 14th child. The building is most famous for its white marble dome structures, surrounded by gardens, plants and waterways in a largely unpolluted areas of town. The lawns are supposed to appear typically british, as they were redesigned when the British empire took over control. The overall construction time is estimated to have been about 21 years under the supervision of multiple designers and architects.
The site saw some damage by the British at the end of the 19th century, with marble and semi-precious stones going missing, but a restoration project was put into place at the beginning of the 20th century, leaving the Taj Mahal in a remarkably good condition. Anywhere between 2-4 million tourists visit the site every year, and great measures are gone to in terms of security and upkeep to ensure that this beautiful world heritage site is preserved for many years to come.