10 Most Fascinating Ruins (That You Can Actually Visit)

Fascinating old ruins are abundant around the world, ranging from decaying cities to temples that have stood the test of time. Many of these ancient civilizations were very ingenious and unique in their thought processes which have been preserved and seen by visitors today.

And while there’s a lot people can learn from these prehistoric peoples, perhaps the most exciting aspect is that humans still don’t know much about them. Many of the world’s most fascinating ancient ruins are brimming with age-old mystery that will confuse even the most inquisitive minds. So here are some of the fascinating ruins that tourists can actually visit.

ten Chichen Itza, Mexico

One of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, Chichen Itza was once a bustling Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was demolished in 1221 when Mayapan became the new capital, which the Maya had built in 600 AD. The Kukulkan Temple is a massive stone pyramid that has 365 steps. Travelers are recommended to visit this historical site towards the source, when the sun shines through the steps of the pyramid, creating a spectacular light show, and witnessing the mystery of this place.

RELATED: 20 Incredible Mayan Ruins In Central America (That Aren’t Chichen Itza)

9 Ayuthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya, a Khmer military and trading post, was founded around 1350. Soon after, this bustling trading port was elevated to Thailand’s former capital. He retained this title for four centuries before the Burmese invaders destroyed it. Almost all the relics and temples in the city were destroyed because they were made of wood. Only about 50 stone relics or temples were left standing as a result of the fire. Renovations of Ayutthaya’s mix of Siamese, Sri Lankan, and Khmer architecture began in the 1970s and have since made it a popular day trip from Bangkok.


8 Olympia, Greece

Despite the fact that the ruins of this shrine once housed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the serene setting still exists. Olympia was initially a religious center, but today it is associated with sport. The Olympic Games, held every four years since 776 BCE, were part of a celebration of Zeus. Significant damage was caused to the site by the Romans and earthquakes. The gymnasium has more columns than the temples of Hera or Zeus. Tourists can visit this historic site at any time of the year.


7 Derinkuyu Underground City, Turkey

Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia aren’t the only way to see the region from a bird’s eye view. An otherworldly landscape dotted with hoodoos and villages, Derinkuyu in Göreme National Park is the larger of the two underground cities. Up to 20,000 people could be accommodated in the Byzantine city’s 18-story underground labyrinth, complete with ventilation ducts and water pipes. During the sieges, it served as a refuge. Intruders were kept out by thick stone wheels that served as gates. Derinkuyu is connected to other underground settlements by miles of tunnels. Tourists have been visiting this historic site in Turkey for years and can see it any time of the year.

RELATED: Sumela Monastery: Turkey’s Most Extreme Hanging Monastery


6 Prambanan temple complex, Indonesia

Numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples dot the island of Java, many of which date back to the 9th century. The smaller temples at the site have mostly collapsed due to centuries of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Bas-relief panels depicting scenes from the Hindu epic poem Ramayana adorn the world’s tallest Hindu temples, which honor Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. From May to October, the Ramayana Ballet performs the story in the temple compound known as Candi Rara Jonggrang, so visitors can freely visit here to watch this performance.


5 Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge, a collection of prehistoric monuments scattered across Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable ancient ruins in the world. Stone rings dating back over 5,000 years are among the oldest constructions on Earth. They are shrouded in mystery due to their sandstone construction. For the most part, humans still don’t know who erected them or why. However, experts believe Stonehenge may have been used for religious rites or to track the movement of the sun and moon. To get there, tourists have three options they can consider. First, take a guided bus tour that will take you to these ancient ruins. Second, use public transport, and finally take a self-guided tour of this site with your own car.


4 Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Fortress is a 200 meter high rock face in Sri Lanka near Dambulla, built in the first century AD. The magnificent ruins of an ancient civilization, considered the capital of the Kassapa Kingdom, sit atop what is known today as Lion Rock. The Citadel, the upper palace, the mirror wall with brilliant frescoes and the lion entrance design were all part of the original structure when it was at its height. A Buddhist monastery was established in Japan in the 14th century after the death of the king. It could be a long journey to reach the destination. However, it is all worth it at the end of the day.

RELATED: Step on the mysterious footprint of Adam (Buddha) in Sri Lanka




3 Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus, the ancient city with some of the most amazing Greek and Roman remains, is found in western Turkey. The Temple of Artemis, which stood there for more than two thousand years, has disappeared. But what really sets these ruins apart is their level of realism. Unlike many other areas that are strictly off limits to the public, all parts of the city can be touched, walked, and walked. Highlights include the Library of Celsus, the Bath of Varius, and the Prytaneion, a historic public toilet complex. As the most fabulous open-air theater of antiquity, it also houses the 25,000-seat “Grand Theatre” of Ephesus.


2 Ellora Caves, India

Several caverns, monasteries, chapels and temples have been carved into the basalt rock at Ellora, forming the Ellora Caves complex. Only 34 of the 100 caves are accessible to the general public. For five centuries, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monks created Ellora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Maharashtra, India. The Kailasa Temple is a must see when visiting the Ellora Caves. It is the most giant monolithic sculpture in the world, a tribute to Shiva. The carpenter’s cave, similar to polished wood, also has a vast preaching Buddha. The two giant statues of Indra in Chota Kailasha cave are a must see.


1 Terracotta Army, China

Many life-size soldiers and horses are depicted in the Terracotta Warriors, sometimes called the Terracotta Army. Underground pits from the third century BC are found near the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi in Xi’an, China. Locals were digging for quite a while in the 1970s when they accidentally dug them up and realized they were fossils. A few have been excavated, but the Terracotta Army Museum contains three such pits. The fantastic thing about these clay warriors is that each has a different face. They were made by hand and lasted about forty years.

NEXT: The story behind the amazing Chinese Terracotta Army and why you should visit them

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