The Colosseum and the Roman Forum in Rome. The Acropolis, Knossos, and Delphi in Greece. These are some of the world’s most famous ruins and the sites of two of the world’s earliest civilizations. They draw thousands of tourists each year, impressing both locals and foreigners with their history, architecture, and grandeur. It comes as no surprise then that most people immediately think of Roman and Greek ruins when asked which places with a rich history and impressive, ancient architecture they want to see.
These two, however, are hardly the only archaeological ruins worth visiting, others from outside Rome and Greece that are equally awe-inspiring and rich with history.
On your next out-of-the-country vacation, consider seeing these ruins around the globe:
The Tulum Ruins of Mexico
Located south of Playa del Carmen and just 80 miles away from Cancun, the Ruins of Tulum offers a peek into the life of the Mayas who populated this port city before the Spanish occupation of Mexico. Archaeological evidence shows that civilization existed in the city as early as 564 A.D. It is also believed that Tulum was a thriving port city and a major trading post between the old Central American city-states of Chichen Itza, Coba, and Ek Balam.
Today, Tulum is a favorite destination of LDS vacation tours that visit the locations mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Visitors will find an enclosed, limestone-walled city that stands high cliffs and faces the gorgeous Caribbean sea. Its main structures are the Temple of the Descending God (features a stone wall carving of a god whose bent legs are above him, his arms and head at the bottom, as though having descended headfirst from the sky), the Temple of Frescoes (reportedly has a stucco mural of Mayan deities and vestiges of old paintings inside the temple), and the Pyramid of El Castillo (the most imposing building in the Tulum ruins which stands on a bluff overlooking the crystal blue sea).
Caesarea, the Ancient City of Israel
The breathtaking old harbor built by King Herod is now beautifully restored, but visitors can still see its archaeological wonders underwater. Yes, Caesarea Maritima is the site of the world’s first underwater museum. Tourists can go on a guided dive that will take them through the sunken ruins of the ancient city. The surrounding waters are littered with archaeological artifacts from Caesarea, as well as bounty from shipwrecks dating as far back as the 11th Century.
There is yet another impressive structure aboveground; a portion of the Herodian aqueducts still stand on the beach on the northern part of the old city. Also visible is the extension of the raised aqueducts, which was later added by the Roman emperor, Hadrian.
The Lost Empire of Hattusha, Turkey
The capital of the once-powerful Hittite Empire, Hattusha is a precious archaeological discovery and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was home to over 40,000 and was both a military and economic stronghold. The empire was reportedly a challenge to the army of Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians. Even the Bible contains references to its formidable fighters.
Archaeologists believe that Hattusha “vanished” from 1200 B.C. until it was rediscovered in 1907. Today, the stone foundations of stone residential buildings are all that’s left of the Lower City and the Temple District (also called the Upper City), along with the preserved, stone-made Yerkapi Tunnel, Yazilikaya shrine complex, and the Suppiluliuma Shrine.
These three sites will no doubt satisfy your wanderlust and grant you a better appreciation of their respective region’s history and ancient culture. Travelers ought to consider visiting any of these places on their next vacation trips.