The world is full of amazing places, so what’s on your bucket list? This list promises a crateful of cultural coolness that will go some way to answering the question ‘where do you really want to go?’
Mesa Verde National Park, USA
Mesa Verde, or ‘green table’, in Montezuma County, Colorado was the home to Pueblo Indians who lived there for over seven centuries. The 52,000-acre national park is home to over 4,000 stunning archaeological treasures including hundreds of beautifully preserved cliff dwellings dating back one and a half millennia.
For lovers of Roman and Greek history, Ephesus is at the top table with some of the best-preserved ruins in the entire Mediterranean region. The city has a rich history; it was attacked by the Cimmerians; conquered by Cyrus the Great; it was a strategic location in the Greco-Persian wars and was ‘liberated’ by Alexander the Great. Visitors can walk through the ancient streets and see the ruins of the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the classical theatre where it’s said that St. Paul preached. You will also see the lone column representing the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Hagia Sophia, Turkey
The Hagia Sophia is a spectacular Byzantine church which was converted in to a mosque in 1453 when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. The building we see today was built in the 5th century by Emperor Justinian. You can’t help but marvel at the four towering minarets and the magnificent dome housing stunning mosaics, chapels and altars, taking influences from both Christian and Muslim architecture.
Beaumaris Castle, UK
Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey is one of the most perfectly striking castles in the world. Built by King Edward I in 1295, it was captured in 1403 by Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Welsh Prince of Wales, retaken by the English two years later and King Charles I used it as a military base during the English Civil War. The castle has been described as Britain’s ‘most perfect example of symmetrical concentric planning’ and has been praised by UNESCO for its ‘unique artistic achievement.’ It really is mind-blowing.
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Completed in 1886, Neuschwanstein Castle is a fairy-tale mountain-top fortress built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who wanted to live somewhere designed ‘in the authentic style of the old German knights.’ You may recognise Neuschwanstein as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and as the schloss of the dastardly Baron Bomburst from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
Dougga (or Thugga) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ‘the best-preserved Roman small town in North Africa.’ Established in the 5th century BC and incorporated into the Roman Empire in 46 BC, it has been inhabited at various times by the Numidians, Punics, ancient Greeks and Romans. The 70-acre site has a series of stunning ruins including public baths, the remains of a market, a 3,500-seat theatre, amphitheatre and temples of Juno Caelestis and Saturn.
Lalibela Rock Churches, Ethiopia
Named for 12th century Christian King Lalibela of Ethiopia, the site is famous for 11 churches intricately excavated and carved out of the rock. One of the churches – Beta Maryam – has a covered pillar on which the secrets of the construction were inscribed and only the priests are permitted to read them. The churches contain symbology and are one of the most stunning sites in Africa. Find our more
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, Russia
Completed in 1907 on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 (hence the name), the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, famed for its colourful onion-like domes, is a breath-taking building on the banks of the Griboyedov Canal. The inside is as ornate as the outside and is adorned with vividly bright, detailed mosaics by Russia’s most famous artists.
The Terracotta Army, China
One of the world’s most famous and jaw-dropping sites, the Terracotta Army is part of the mausoleum of the First Emperor of China and was discovered by accident in 1974 by farmers digging a well. Around eight thousand life-sized terracotta soldiers, infantry, carts and horses are individually detailed. The mausoleum dates to the third century BC and the job of the soldiers is to protect the Emperor in the afterlife.
Paestum is a Greco-Roman site home to the sensational remains of three ancient Greek temples of Hera, Neptune and Ceres. When the city was captured by the Romans after the Pyrrhic Wars in 273 BC it became a thriving Roman settlement. The Temples are amongst the world’s best-preserved and visitors can also see impressive defensive walls, a Roman forum and ancient tombs as well as a very early Christian church.
Feature compiled with help from Trip Historic, the leading online travel guide to the world’s historic sites and fuses history and travel like never before, providing a unique resource for those seeking fascinating holiday inspiration www.triphistoric.com