The different ruins around the world open the door to ancient cultures. Natural disasters, wars, depopulation and also lack of maintenance causes fallen of many important sites and completely get deserted over time. The ruins in the world are of great important to historians and archaeologists. Such sites helped them to exploring about the architectural ideas used by ancient civilizations.
1. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca ruins located in Machupicchu district in Peru. It is also known as lost city of Incas. Machu Picchu is situated 2430 meters above sea level. It was built as an estate for Inca emperor Pachacuti in 1450. But it was abandoned after Spanish invasion over Inca empire in 16th century. It was rediscovered in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham.
By considering it’s outstanding cultural and natural values UNESCO recognized Machu Picchu as a world heritage site in 1983. Machu Picchu covers a vast area of 35000 hectares and surrounded by attractive mountain forest. The ruins of Machu Picchu contains temples, palaces, storage rooms, baths, residences and stone structures. All structures at the site were carved from grey granite. The building blocks used for the construction of structures at Machu Picchu weighs more than 50 tons.
The intihuatana stone also known as hitching post of the Sun is one of notable remains of Machu Picchu. Once It was used to determine the date of two equinox, the moment at which Sun crosses celestial equator. Temple of Sun is one of the important structures in Machu Picchu that have great spiritual significance. It was made of stones and mud. There is also an altar located inside the temple. It helped Incas to determine the attitude of the site using alignment of Sunlight with rocks of the temple. There is also a royal mausoleum located beneath of temple of Sun.
Principal temple and temple of three windows are another two noteworthy structures located on Northwest of the site. The principal temple is a three sided building that contains a carved altar. The temple of three windows situated near principal temple. It have a huge collection of broken potteries of Inca empire.
2. Colosseum of Rome, Italy
Colosseum of Rome is the largest amphitheater in the world, situated in Roman forum, in Italy. It is considered as the greatest achievement of Roman architecture. It was built between A.D 70 and A.D 80 which was commissioned by Roman emperor Vespasian. The Colosseum was made of concrete and stone.
It is 189 meter long and 156 meter wide. Colosseum was mainly used for public spectacles and gladiatorial contests. The interior of the Colosseum had seating for 50000 spectators. Romans used this amphitheater for entertainment for long 390 years. Colosseum was abandoned in 10th century A.D. It was heavily damaged by major earthquakes in A.D 847 and A.D 1231. Today it is a world heritage site and one of most popular tourist attractions in Italy.
There is a network of subterranean passageways located beneath of the amphitheater. Once it was used for transporting wild animals to the the stadium. It was now open for public. The Colosseum had four floors and 80 entrances in total. The arches of second and third floors of amphitheater decorated with statues. The most parts of interior arena of Colosseum was made of wood and have a tiered arrangement for seating. There is also a museum that is dedicated to Greek God Eros located in the top floor of Colosseum.
3. Petra, Jordan
Petra is an important archaeological site and ancient city located between dead sea and red sea in Jordan. The city is also known as ‘Rose city’ because of the red-rose sandstone out of which the site is carved. Petra is globally known for it’s rock-cut architectural style. The city was established in 312 BCE by Nabataeans, ancient inhabitants of Northern Arabia. Petra was hidden from Western world until 1812 and rediscovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. UNESCO inscribed city of Petra as a world heritage site in 1985.
Petra is half built and half carved into rock and contains elaborate tombs, channels, tunnels, diversion dams and temples. Once it served as main caravan center for the travelers between Mediterranean and Africa. Only small part of original carvings of Petra exists today. The city is much known for it’s water conservation and distribution system.
The remains of Petra contains more than 800 monuments including tombs, temples, arched gate ways and temples. The site contains three main royal tombs that are carved into rock face. First one is Urn tomb, It was built in 70 A.D for Nabataean king Malchus II. The second tomb located near Urn tomb is known as silk tomb named after the rich colored sandstone out of which it is carved. The third tomb at the site is known as Corinthian tomb. Only a small portion of this tomb remains today. There is also a 40 meter tall highly decorated building carved on rock of mountainside. It represents Alexandrian and Hellenistic architectural styles.
4. Borobudur Temple, Indonesia
Borodubur temple is an important Mahayana Buddhist temple located in central Java in Indonesia. It was built between 8th and 9th centuries and it took long 75 years for the completion it’s construction. It is the largest Buddhist monument in the world. After the decline of Hindu kingdom Bordobudur temple was abandoned in 14th century. The site remains hidden from the outer world for centuries under volcanic ash. The main restoration of Borobudur temple was done between 1975 and 1982.
Borodubur temple was constructed on different levels around a hill. The first level forming base of the pyramid with five massive terraces. Above of this level there are three circular platforms that are decorated with thousands of relief panels and hundreds of Buddha statues. The main dome located at top level of the Borodubur temple surrounded by 72 Buddha statues. The stone reliefs in the second level of the temple illustrate different periods from the life of lord Buddha.
The borodubur temple compound actually consist of three main temples, borodubur temple and two small temples called as Mendut temple and Pawon temple. The borodubur complex represent the attainment of Nirvana, release from all effects of karma, the final goal of Buddhism. Borodubur temple also features various statues of lord Buddha. They also represents five different mudras according to Mahayana, one of important branch of Buddhism.
5. Acropolis of Athens, Greece
Acropolis of Athens is the well known acropolis in Greece. The acropolis contains number of monuments that have great architectural and cultural values. In 5th centuries after the victory against Persians the great Greek statesman Pericles coordinated and presented idea of transforming rocky hill of Athens into monuments of arts. Later a group of exceptional Greek artists built several important monuments including Parthenon, Erechtheon and Propylaea. The first damage to Acropolis of Athens dated back to A.D 267 during Herculian raid. The site had been damaged several times in following centuries. In 1987 the site of remains of the Acropolis became a world heritage site.
Parthenon and other important monuments at acropolis was also heavily damaged by Venetian attack in 1687. Parthenon is most important temple in the remains of Acropolis of Athens. It was built between 447 B.C and 437 B.C. The temple was dedicated to Greek Goddess Athena. It is the most important surviving building Greek culture ranges from 5th century B.C to 4th Century B.C. Wide scale reconstruction worl of Pathenon also commissioned by Greek government between 2002 and 2010.
Erechtheion is another important temple located on the North side of acropolis. It was built between 421 B.C and 406 B.C. It was designed by Athenian architect Mnesikles. Erechtheion was dedicated to two Greek divinities Athena and Poseidon. Archaeologists got many core statues from the Northwest part of Erechtheion during excavation process at acropolis in 1886. Propylaea is another noteworthy remain of the site, serves as monumental entrance to acropolis of Athens and only a small portion of Propylaea remains today. The important statues excavated from the acropolis now exhibited in museum of acropolis in Athens.
6. Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra is an ancient Aramaic city located in Oasis are in central Syria. The site is known as ‘Bride of the desert’ because the city hand long been a important caravan stop for travelers who passing Syrian desert. The city was abandoned in 16th century and rediscovered by Western travelers in 17th century. Today it is one of the important tourist attractions in Syria and a world heritage site.
The art and architectural remains of Palmyra represent the fusion of styles from different civilizations. The most important building in the remains of Palmyra is large temple known as Ba’al. It is considered as the most important religious monument of 1st century A.D in Middle East. Only a small fraction of this temple remains today. Great Colonnade is the another important remains in Palmyra, a long sequence of free standing columns. It was constructed in several stages between 2nd century and 3rd century C.E and it is 1 kilometer in length.
There is also an impressive Roman theater originally having twelve rows of seats made of wood. Today only nine rows of seats remains within ruin of this theater. another noteworthy remains in the site is a 1 kilometer long funerary monuments known as valley of the tombs. The museum of Palmyra also contains many important artifacts excavated from the site.
7. Ruins of Ayutthaya, Thailand
The historical city of Ayutthaya was built by King Ramathinodi I in 1350. Ayutthaya was second capital of Siamese kingdom. The Island where city of Ayutthaya located surrounded by three river and they connecting Ayutthaya to the sea. The location of Ayutthaya is also above of tidal bore from the Gulf of Siam. But the City was destroyed by Burmese army in 1767. The first small scale restoration of the city was done King Mongkut between 1854 and 1868. But many of the remains of Ayutthaya destoyed during their restoration work. The main restoration work of Ayutthaya was done by fine art department in 1935. Today it is a world heritage center and total area of the site 289 hectares.
All major part of Ayutthaya was made of wood and principal sections also linked by roads, canals and moats.The site features many Buddhist monasteries and large palaces. All Surviving buildings of Ayutthaya reflect a fusion of architectural styles of India, Japan, China, Persia and Europe. These buildings were also decorated with high quality mural paintings and crafts. The site also features many temples, statues of lord Buddha and a unique water management system.
8. Volubilis, Morocco
Volubilis is the largest ancient Roman ruins in Morocco. Volubilis inhabited for more than thousands of years and abandoned in 11th century. Many remains of Volubilis also destroyed by the major earthquake in 18th century. The was excavated during French rule in 19th century. The archaeological remains of Volubilis also represent occupation of the site by different civilizations in different period of time. UNESCO listed this site as a world heritage site in 1997.
Volubilis city covers an area of 12 hectares and remains of 2.6 kilometer long ancient Roman wall still located in the site. The most of the building in Volubilis was built using grey-blue limestoes. These buildings are also known for their large mosaic floors. Capitoline temple and basilica are two notable public buildings in the remains Volubilis city. The basilica was once used as administrative office. The interior of the basilica features many columns, offices, temples and many statues of rulers. The capitoline temple is located behind of basilica and it was dedicated for Roman divinities including Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
Another notable site within ruins of Volubilis is a Triumphal arch which was built back in 217 to honor Roman emperor Caracalla. It was reconstured between 1930 and 1934 by French rulers. Major parts of the arch was still remained within the site. The residential section of the site ranges from small houses to highly decorated palaces.
9. Tikal, Northern Guatemala
It is an excavated Mayan city and one of the largest archaeological site located in Northern Guatemala. It was an important urban center and most popular culture center of Guatemala. The Tikal ruins surrounded by 222 square miles of jungle. Tikal dated back to 1000 B.C and by 300 B.C. The city was declined and abandoned around A.D 900. It was rediscovered in 1840. It took 13 long years for archaeologists to uncover the structures at Tikal ruins and still major parts of it remains unearthed. In 1979 UNESCO recognized Tikal as world heritage site.
Tikal ruins features number of temples, small pyramids, residences, monuments and palaces of pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Major part of the site was built using limestones. There are also tombs of rulers of Mayan civilization, water reservoirs, jail like sections made of wood. The most important section in the remains of Tikal is great plaza that consist of main temples and the ball court. Both temple I & II of great plaza represent the great monumental style flourished under the rule of Tikal kings. The tomb of Tikal king Ha Sawa Chaan K’awil also discovered from the interior of temple I.
There are also six large pyramids standing at the height of 200 feet and have temple structure on their summits. These temples also became the most important surviving buildings of Tikal ruins. The residential section of the site covers an area of 60 square kilometers and all main parts of Tikal also linked with a network of causeways.
10. Palenque, Southern Mexico
Palenque is considered as most impressive Mayan ruins of Mexico, surrounded by dense forest, waterfalls and mountains. It represent gracefulness of architecture and creativity of Mayan civilization. The Mayan temples at Palenque are known for their architectural style and beautiful sculptures. The site was built between 226 B.C and 799 A.D. At the end of 10th century the site was declined and abandoned. Later Palenque ruin first visited back in 1773. The total area of of the important historical site is 1780 hectares. It is estimated that only 10 percentage of the site has been restored and major portion of Pelnque is still covered by dense forest.
The restored portion of Palenque contains many temples, sculptures and bas-relief carvings. An impressive pyramid is located at the entrance of temple site of Palenque. It features hieroglyphics inscriptions. The tomb of Mayan king Pakal was also discovered from temple site. It is located at the bottom level of the site, accessed by stone staircase. The tomb is close for public. The walls and columns of the site features stucco scenes and vaulted halls linked with impressive galleries.