There's something about visiting historic sites that feels both educational and exhilarating. Maybe it's the sense of connection you feel to the past, or the excitement of learning about something new. No matter what it is, there's no doubt that these 14 historic sites are some of the most popular in the world. From ancient ruins to iconic palaces, each one offers a unique glimpse into history. So, if you're looking for an unforgettable travel experience, be sure to add at least one of these amazing locations to your list!
Our List of 14 Most Popular Historic Sites in the World
Before we start, what do you mean by historic sites?
It can mean different things to different people. For some, it might be ancient ruins or monuments. For others, it might be historically significant buildings or locations.
There are also many sites around the world that are culturally important to a particular group of people, even if they don't have any overt historical significance. These sites might include traditional cultural ceremonies or rituals that are no longer practiced anywhere else.
So, what is the importance of historic sites?
Historic sites play an important role in preserving the history of a nation or people. They are often tourist destinations, and can help teach future generations about the past. Additionally, they can provide a sense of community identity and connection to the past.
There are so many amazing and popular historic sites all over the world, but we've managed to narrow it down to our list of 14 favorites. If you're looking to explore some truly fascinating bits of history, look no further than our top picks!
1. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel located in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It's thought that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Incan emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471), and served as a vacation spot for the emperor and his family. The site remained abandoned following the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532, and was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Today, Machu Picchu is one of the most popular historic sites in South America.
✈️. Nearest airport: Lima Jorge Chávez International Airport
2. The Pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Giza are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. They are some of the oldest and most impressive man-made structures on the planet. The oldest pyramid at Giza is estimated to have been built around 4,500 years ago, making it one of the oldest historic sites and historic preservation sites in human history.
The Giza pyramids were constructed as tombs for pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure during the Fourth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. The largest pyramid at Giza (the Great Pyramid of Khufu) is over 480 feet tall and comprises 2.3 million stone blocks. It's an incredible feat of engineering that has stood strong for thousands of years.
✈️. Nearest airport: Cairo International Airport
Petra is a historic site that was once the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. It is located in modern-day Jordan, and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
The city of Petra was built by the Nabataeans, an Arab people who inhabited the region from around 300 BC to 100 AD. The Nabataeans were accomplished traders and merchants, and Petra served as their capital city. The city was built out of pink sandstone, and it is known for its elaborate rock-cut architecture.
Petra declined in importance after the Roman Empire annexed Nabataea in 106 AD, and the city was eventually abandoned sometime in the 7th century AD. Today, Petra is one of the most popular historic sites for thousands of people all around the world.
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4. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is an ancient fortification built across the northern borders of China to protect the Chinese Empire from raids by horse-mounted nomadic tribes from the north.
Today, it is recognized as one of the largest and most impressive structures ever constructed, and over its long history it has been rebuilt and maintained in a number of different forms. As a result, it holds great historical importance not just for China but for all of humanity.
✈️. Nearest airport: Beijing Capital International Airport
5. Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his late wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture, and it is widely recognized as "the jewel of Muslim art in India".
The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the most perfect expression of the Mughal Garden tomb" and because it is "an excellent example of Indo-Islamic architecture". In 2007, it was also named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
✈️. Nearest airport: Indira Gandhi International Airport
6. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia, built for the king of the Khmer Empire, Suryavarman II, between 1113 and 1150. It was originally Hindu, but was later converted to Buddhism. The temple is the best-preserved and most massive structure at Angkor.
Angkor Wat is regarded as the epitome of classical Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime tourist attraction. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. The central tower rises from a lotus pond and presides over.
7. The Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, which served as the centerpiece of ancient Athens. Construction began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC. It is perhaps one of the most famous historical monuments of Greek architecture.
The Parthenon was dedicated to Athena, the patron deity of Athens, and served as a treasury and shrine. The interior of the temple housed a massive statue of Athena, made from ivory and gold. After centuries of use and abuse, the Parthenon was extensively damaged in 1687 AD when it was struck by a Venetian cannonball.
✈️. Nearest airport: Athens International Airport
8. Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is a historic site because it was built to commemorate George Washington, the first U.S. president.
George Washington was an important figure in American history, and he played a major role in the country's early development. The Washington Monument was built to honor him and his contributions to the United States. It's one of the most iconic historic landmarks in Washington, D.C., and it's a popular tourist destination.
✈️. Nearest airport: Washington Dulles International Airport
9. The African Burial Ground National Monument
The African Burial Ground National Monument is one of the United States National historic sites located in the City of New York, within the Manhattan borough. The site is an archaeological excavation site and national monument which memorializes thousands of Africans buried there during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The five-acre (20,000 m2) area was designated a National Monument on October 19, 1993 by President George H. W. Bush. According to the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only national park service unit in New York City. The site hosts an annual commemoration ceremony every February to honor those who were buried there.
✈️. Nearest airport: Newark Liberty International Airport
10. Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is a historic site because it commemorates the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Memorial is also significant because it represents an important moment in American history. After the Civil War, Reconstruction began which aimed to rebuild the Union and ensure civil rights for African Americans. The Lincoln Memorial was part of this effort and helped to solidify Abraham Lincoln's legacy as a champion of democracy and freedom. It is certainly one of the most important national historical sites for Americans.
11. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) in the 6th century AD. It served as the Byzantine imperial cathedral until 1453, when it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. It remained a mosque until 1931, when it was secularized and turned into a museum.
Hagia Sophia is one of the most important historic sites in Turkey, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest architectural achievements of all time. It is located in the historic district of Sultanahmet. Its popularity has spawned many imitations, including the United States Capitol building and St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
✈️. Nearest airport: Istanbul International Airport
Stonehenge is one of the historic places located in England. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet (4.0 m) high, 6 feet (1.8 m) wide and weighing around 25 tons.
The site dates from between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, making it one of the oldest monuments in the world. Archaeologists believe that the stones were erected by prehistoric people in order to worship the sun and moon. Stonehenge is now a World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Britain.
✈️. Nearest airport: Southampton Airport
13. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is an historic site located in the Mexican state of Yucatán. It was once one of the largest Maya cities and is thought to have been one of the most important religious centres of the Maya world.
The city was abandoned by the end of the 10th century, but it continued to be an important pilgrimage site for more than three centuries. In 1984, Chichen Itza was designated as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
14. The Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from circa 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their role, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. The site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
👉 By the way, you should read this article: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
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