15 Ancient Ruins For The History Buff With Wanderlust

Wanderlust July 7, 2017 By Vincent

Many folks like to travel in order to soak up the history and culture of places that are new and exciting yet have an ancient and complex history. One great way to do this is to seek out the ruins of a previous civilization or era gone by that are often dotted around many cities across the globe.

Here we take a look at some of the most stunning ruins around the world that will excite any history buff.

1. Roman Forum - Rome, Italy

The center of the Roman Empire, this is where elections, speeches, worship and pretty much anything else of note would take place. Rome is filled with ruins, monuments, and nods to its ancient past but the forum really is quite the spectacle with constant renovation meaning that more and more is being opened up to the public.

Image: Aksenya/

The Coliseum is also a must visit if you are there to see where gladiators would battle it out for glory and most of all, survival.

2. The Pyramids of Giza - Giza, Egypt

Ancient tombs of the Pharaohs, the Pyramids of Giza are the last nod towards the fallen empire where their rulers would be buried. With the Great Sphinx standing guard to the complex these icons are bound to arouse curiosity in the historically aware.#

Image: xabi_kls/

With the largest being the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, these are a must-see if you are in the area.

3. Borobudur - Java, Indonesia

The largest Buddhist temple on Earth is a multi-tiered structure with apex views of surrounding volcanoes on the island of Java.

Image: Bayu Ramadhan/

The 95-foot high climb may seem like a lot of hard work, but the stunning 3,000 bas-reliefs deserve a closer look.

4. Acropolis - Athens, Greece

Comprised of the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion, Acropolis sits high above the city of Athens and was where ancient Grecians would go and worship.

Image: Gokay Apusoglu/

The seat of modern democracy and Western philosophy, its history and influence run throughout Europe.

5. Ephesus, Turkey

An ancient port city with a checkered history of constant domination and invasion, Ephesus holds remnants of many of the world's great empires having first been a sacred settlement to the cult of Artemis. It was then conquered by the Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman empire in turn.

Image: 79mtk/

Because of this, it holds many sites such as the Church of St. Mary, the Temple of Hadrian, Roman harbor baths, the Theater Gymnasium, amphitheater, and the incredible Library of Celsus.

6. Petra, Jordan

A city carved into the sandstone cliffs between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, this truly breathtaking site can be entered through the narrow Siq canyon.

Image: lkpro/

With many of the facades of these ancient buildings intact, the Treasury,  temples and over 800 tombs are all still there to be seen.

7. Machu Picchu, Peru

An ancient Incan city high in the Andes, this stunning wonder of the world is on many people's bucket lists, and so when they do get a chance to go there, they like to let people know, making it the 13th most Instagrammed place on Earth.


A UNESCO world heritage site, it is a snapshot of an ancient culture that no longer exists, nestled high above the clouds.

8. Teotihuacan, Mexico

A pre-Aztec city, when the Aztec's got there, they were the of the opinion that the God's created the world there. Built between 100 BC and 250 AD, it has pyramids of the sun and moon to worship these celestial bodies.

Image: Salcido/

Incredibly well preserved, murals and depictions of ancient gods can still be made out in the city.

9. Great Wall of China, China

Stretching across the North of the country, the Wall was built to protect from invasion, predominantly the Mongolian hordes. Spanning 20,000 kilometers from Shanhaiguan in Hebei province in the east to Jiayuguan in Gansu province in the west, the wall is an icon of the country.

Image: Skreidzeleu/

The only man-made structure on Earth visible from the moon, you get the sheer size and scale of the undertaking that was building it.

10. Tical, Guatemala

Built in the jungle by the Mayans, this city remains in pretty good condition considering it was mysteriously abandoned sometime around 900AD and then was left to be engulfed by the surrounding flora until rediscovered in the 1800s.

Image: Alex Garaev/

What's more impressive is that these enormous temples were built in a period pre-dating metal tools or even the wheel.

11. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Built in the 12th century and dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, this Cambodian city is a city of temples and is the largest religious holy site in the world today. 

Image: Siriwatthana Chankawee/

Depictions of many Hindu holy scenes are carved into the buildings of the one-time capital of the Khmer empire.

12. Stonehenge - Wiltshire, England

A pre-historic monument of standing stones, Stonehenge was built by a culture that left no written records or hints about how or why this circle of monolithic pillars was put there. Despite this, it is still inherently linked to the iconography of Great Britain and theories point to it being a ritualistic place of worship or supernatural power.

Image: Natalia Paklina/

Dating around sometime between 3000BC and 2000BC, perhaps what is most impressive is the discovery that the stones used in the construction of this English landmark originate from Wales in a pit 160 miles away from where they now stand. No one is quite sure how they were transported there as the technology to do so, seemingly, did not exist at this time.

13. Moai Statues - Easter Island, Chile

Giant statues placed atop a stone platform, these were put on top of burial sites and were said to give power to the living ancestors of those buried underneath.

Image: Jordan Adkins/

Like Stonehenge, these statues rather baffle archaeologists who cannot work out how they were transported from the island's quarry, where they were carved, to where they rested given the limited technology available at the time. Ask a native on the island though and they are likely to tell you they walked there.

14. Carthage, Tunisia

Founded in 814 BC, Carthage was an important port city of the Phoenician empire and connected Europe to Africa. As such it was much prized by many empires and was first conquered by the Romans in 146AD who then had to rebuild it after the Punic wars.

Image: Alex Volosianko/

After them came the Vandals, Christians, and Arabs in turn and as such it has a wealth of ancient and important sites from a variety of cultures including the Punic ports, Antonine baths, necropolises, theater, amphitheater, circus, basilicas, and residential areas.

15. Kailashnath Temple - Ellora, India

India is awash with ancient sites, temples and ruins to visit but arguably one of the most spectacular is the Kailashnath Temple.

Image: Rachel Moon/

Carved out of a single rock, this cave temple is in the Pallava style and was created in the 8th century and sits in amongst 33 other caves in Ellora which are a UNESCO world heritage site.

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