20 Most Stunning Ancient Ruins Across The World

By Neha Kapoor on Nov 20, 2015
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The Ruins of the Ancient World are narratives- of past, of human history, art and architecture. They are the ones that form a nexus between the enigmatic past and the curious present. This world is strewn with emblems of past that defy the ravages of time and stand there- firm, stunning and graceful. I have always been interested in art and architecture and nothing seems as seductive and ravishing as some of the most stunning ancient ruins that unravel the stories of past. Here are some of them:

1. Ta Prohm, Cambodia

PC: Brian Jeffery Beggerly/flickr.com

Where: Siem Reap Province, Cambodia

Seen in the film Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm was originally named Rajavihara. While most Angkorian temples have been largely rebuilt, Ta Prohm remains mostly in its original state. It was founded as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. 

2. Luxor Temple, Egypt

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Luxor, Egypt

Founded in 1400 BC, the Luxor Temple  is a sandstone temple complex located in current-day Luxor (known as Thebes in ancient times). Five other large temples can be found in the area.

3. Bagan, Burma

PC: Pixabay.com

Where: Mandalay Region, Myanmar

Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th century to the 13th century. In present time, over 2,200 temples and pagodas can be found. At its peak, the city contained over 10,000 Buddhist temples. 

4. Roman Forum, Italy

Where: Rome, Italy

An impressive if rather confusing sprawl of ruins, the Roman Forum was ancient Rome's showpiece centre, a grandiose district of temples, basilicas and vibrant public spaces.

5. Acropolis, Greece

Where: Athens, Greece

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.

6. Ephesus, Turkey

Where: Izmir Province, Turkey

An ancient Greek city on Ionia’s coast, Ephesus was best known for its Temple of Artemis. The temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and was one of the most impressive ancient ruins that was largely destroyed in 268 AD by the Goths.

7. Petra, Jordan

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Petra, Jordan

Inhabited since prehistoric times, this Nabataean caravan-city, situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, was an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.

Explore the magnetic beauty of these ancient ruins with Triphobo's Trip Planner !

8. Machu Picchu

PC: Pixabay.com

Where: Cusco Region, Peru

Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca site believed to be an estate for emperor Pachacuti, was "discovered” by Hiram Bingham in 1911. A well-trod tourist attraction, Machu Picchu sits 7,970 feet above sea level.

9. Teotihuacan, Mexico

PC: Pixabay.com

Where: San Juan Teotihuacán, Mexico

The origins of this Mesoamerican city are cloudy, but it’s postulated that it reached a population of over 150,000 at its peak. It not only houses the Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Sun, but residential compounds and the Avenue of the Dead as well.

10. Ellora caves, India

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Maharashtra, India

Ellora, an Indian archeological site, is best known for its caves. There are 34 of them, and they were cut out of the rock faces of the Charanandri Hills. 

11. Amphitheatre of El Jem, Tunisia

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Mahdia Governorate, Tunisia

The Amphitheatre of El Jem is one of the remains of the Roman city of Thysdrus, known today as El Djem. The amphitheatre was capable of seating 35,000 people. Several scenes from Life of Brian and Gladiator were filmed here. 

12. Wat Ratchaburana, Thailand

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Ayutthaya, Thailand

A Buddhist temple located in Ayutthaya Historical Park, Wat Ratchaburana was founded in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II on the cremation site of his two elder brothers, who died in a duel for the succession of the throne.

13. Hampi, India

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Karnataka, India

Unreal and bewitching, the forlorn ruins of Hampi dot an unearthly landscape that will leave you spellbound the moment you cast your eyes on it. Heaps of giant boulders perch precariously over miles of undulating terrain, their rusty hues offset by jade-green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields.

Read more on Hampi: 11 Lesser Known Facts of Hampi That Will Surprise You With Their Historicity

14. Roman Baths, England

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Bath, England

Constructed from 60 to 70 AD, the Roman Baths complex in Bath is very well preserved. Combined with the Grand Pump Room, the site receives over 1 million visitors annually.

15. Montezuma Castle National Monument, United States

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Camp Verde, Arizona, United States

These very well-preserved cliff dwellings can be found in Arizona’s Montezuma Castle National Monument. They were built by the pre-Columbian Sinagua people.

16. Pompeii, Italy

PC: Pixabay.com

Where: Province of Naples, Italy

Sprawling and haunting ruins of Pompeii  are a stark reminder of the malign forces that lie deep inside Vesuvius.

17. Palmyra, Syria

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Syria

134 miles northeast of Damascus, Palmyra was an ancient Aramaic city located at an oasis. The city’s most notable building is the temple of Ba’al.

18. Tulum, Mexico

PC: Pixabay.com

Where: Quintana Roo, Mexico

Tulum is another pre-Columbian Maya site, known to be one of the last cities built by the Maya. The well-preserved walled city’s most famous buildings are El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Frescoes.

19. Hadrian’s wall, England

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Cumbria, England

Hadrian’s Wall was a fortification in Roman Britain. A large portion of the wall still remains, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The majority of the wall was built over six years and marked the de facto border of the Roman Empire in the British Isles. 

20. Great Wall of China

PC: Wikimedia Commons

Where: Huangyaguan Pass, China

The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest fascinating sights in the world  the longest wall in the world, an awe-inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture. Its winding path over rugged country and steep mountains takes in some great scenery. 

So which one inspires you enough to take that journey into the past?

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