Every one of us has that favorite chapter of human history that we just can’t get enough of. It could be anything from the Roaring Twenties, to the French Revolution, all the way back to the sinking of Atlantis. Luckily for us, there are many places in our world where you can still find evidence of this rich chapter of human history, even after thousands or hundreds or even tens of years. Listed below are the world’s top trending destinations that every history lover should visit at least once.
Ireland is home to hundreds of castles, many of which are in excellent shape. These buildings were the homes of lords and noblemen who flaunted their power by living in these majestic structures until Cromwell led an attack on Ireland that saw dozens of castles destroyed. The ones that survived though are lovely pieces of history that you can explore during your next trip there. If you ever get the chance to explore Ireland someday, don’t avoid these castles- they are some of the finest structures in all of Europe. Just make sure to plan a visit wisely, as some castles require a tour to see the interior. The best castles are without a doubt the ones located in Northern Ireland so it might as well be your starting point.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was constructed between 1406 and 1420 by Chinese Emperor Yongle who wanted to create a walled palace compound where his father (Emperor Hongwu) could live out the rest of his days in peace after his abdication. It served as an imperial palace until 1912 when the last emperor abdicated, leaving it as a museum now. When you enter this massive castle-like complex through Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace), you will be welcomed in by a massive courtyard and the Hall of Supreme Harmony where coronations were once held. At night, when lit up from below with golden lights, it looks every bit as grand as any castle seen on television or in the movies.
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an. It’s known for its rock-cut architecture and water conduits system, which were one of the most advanced technologies of its time. You will be surprised to see how well preserved the entire complex is despite being abandoned several thousands of years ago. The city is named after the rock formations that surround it, which have been carved by the Nabataean people into tombs and temples. Up until 2000, only a few locals knew about this place because access was difficult due to the desert terrain.
The only ancient site that makes the list, the Acropolis of Athens is a steep rock outcropping that towers over downtown Athens. It was here that some of the most well-known structures in all of history were built: the Parthenon, Propylaea, and Erechtheion. They were designed by Ictinus and Callicrates as part of Pericles’ grand rebuilding plan to make Athens a world capital. When you look at these stunning structures today it is hard to imagine how they could have been carved from such a difficult-to-work-with location but their architecture has stood for thousands of years without being marred or scarred by time.
One of the most mysterious ancient sites in Britain (if not all of Europe), Stonehenge’s original purpose is unknown. It was built using primitive tools and methods by 5000 BC but it wasn’t until 2000 BC that the bluestones were dragged 225 miles from Wales to be used as one of many stone circles at this site. Those who constructed it didn’t put their names on any of the stones (unlike Egyptians) so we don’t even know who built this wonder or why they did it. Theories abound though with some saying druids, others saying extraterrestrials, but until definitive proof is found, these are just theories.
The only UNESCO World Heritage Site on this list, Machu Picchu is one of the most well-known ancient structures in South America. It was constructed around 1450 by the Incan leader Pachacuti as a royal estate for himself and his descendants (he had more than 100 children!). Unfortunately, he died before it was finished but his son Inca Yupanqui finished it up to make it look like something even Egyptians would envy today with its lovely stonework and massive terraces. Only discovered by western civilization in 1911, many archaeologists think that this site was made to inter nobles who were members of the royal family. It was abandoned by the Incas though when they were attacked by Spaniards in 1533 even though many more of them lived nearby.
Ancient history is very important to us because it reminds us of where we came from and of all the progress that has been made. Whether it’s visiting one of Europe’s many castles or trekking up the side of a steep mountain in Peru to get to Machu Picchu, the historical value of these destinations is well worth it. The only question you need to ask yourself is “when will I go?” and “where to go first?”.
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