Ancient cities have long captivated the imagination of travelers, historians, and scholars alike. These archaeological wonders offer a unique window into the past, providing invaluable insights into the cultural, social, and architectural achievements of earlier civilizations. In this introduction, we will define ancient cities, discuss the importance of visiting them, and provide a brief overview of the top 10 most enchanting ancient cities to visit.
Visiting old cities can be awe-inspiring and teach you about our ancestors’ history, culture, and accomplishments. These archaeological sites are physical reminders of how creative and determined people were, and they teach us how to be strong, flexible, and creative. Exploring these cities not only helps us learn more about the past, but also gives us a better understanding of how different cultures have shaped our world.
Top 10 Most Enchanting Ancient Cities
Here is a list of 10 old cities that have won the hearts and minds of visitors because of their important history and beautiful architecture:
Petra is an old city in southern Jordan. It is also called the “Rose City” because of the colour of the rock-cut buildings there.Petra was founded in the 4th century BCE and became the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. The Nabataeans were a nomadic Arab tribe that ran the trade routes in the area.Petra grew into a very important trading hub, with caravans carrying spices, silk, and other valuable goods.In 106 CE, the city was annexed by the Roman Empire, which led to its decline as trade routes shifted. An earthquake in 363 CE further damaged the city, and it was eventually abandoned. Rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, Petra is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist destination.
Top attractions to see in Petra
- Al-Khazneh, also called “The Treasury,” is the most famous building in Petra. It is made of rose-colored sandstone and has a very distinctive shape.It is thought to have been a tomb or a temple, and the complex front is a beautiful sight.
- The Siq: This narrow, winding gorge serves as the main entrance to Petra. The Siq’s high walls, carved by water erosion over the centuries, create a dramatic and awe-inspiring approach to the ancient city.
- The Monastery (Ad-Deir): This massive monument, carved out of the rock face, requires a climb of over 800 steps, but the effort is well worth it. The monastery’s stunning architecture and the views from the top are unforgettable.
- The Royal Tombs: A series of impressive tombs carved into the cliffs, the Royal Tombs include the Urn Tomb, the Silk Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb, and the Palace Tomb. Each tomb has unique architectural features and offers insight into the Nabataeans funerary traditions.
- The Great Temple: A large complex dating back to the 1st century BCE, the Great Temple showcases the sophistication of Nabataean architecture and culture. The temple has an impressive entryway, a colonnaded courtyard, and a lower temenos (sacred area).
Tips for visiting Petra
- Plan your visit: Petra is a vast site, so allocate at least two days to explore it thoroughly. To avoid the crowds and heat, start your day early and take a break during the hottest hours.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes: The site requires a lot of walking and climbing, so wear comfortable and sturdy footwear, as well as clothing appropriate for the weather.
- Stay hydrated and protected: The desert climate can be hot and dry, so bring plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Hire a licenced local guide: To learn more about the history and importance of Petra, you might want to hire a licenced local guide.They can provide valuable information and help you navigate the site.
- Be respectful of local customs. Petra is a significant cultural site, so be respectful of the local customs and dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites.
- Visit Little Petra (Siq al-Barid): If you have time, you might want to visit Little Petra, a smaller archaeological site north of Petra.It offers a glimpse into the Nabataean culture and is less crowded than the main site.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is an ancient city located in the Cusco region of Peru and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in South America. The city was built during the Inca Empire in the 15th century and abandoned around the time of the Spanish conquest.
Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters above sea level, and there are beautiful mountains and valleys all around it.It is thought that the Incas used it as a royal estate or a holy place of worship.
The city is known for its amazing architecture and engineering, such as its water systems and agricultural terraces.The main attraction at Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana Stone, which is a carved stone pillar that is believed to have been used as an astronomical clock or calendar.
Visiting Machu Picchu is a unique experience, as you get to see a city that was built more than 500 years ago and has remained relatively intact. The city can be reached by taking a train from Cusco or hiking the famous Inca Trail.
If you want to avoid crowds at Machu Picchu, you should buy your tickets ahead of time and get there early in the morning.It is also important to wear comfortable shoes and to bring sunscreen and water, as the area can get very hot during the day.
Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most visited tourist destinations in South America. It is a must-see place for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and archaeology because of its beautiful natural surroundings, rich history, and unique architecture.
Athens, the capital city of Greece, is one of the oldest cities in the world and is known for its rich history, culture, and architecture. The city is home to some of the most famous ancient sites in the world, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
The Acropolis is a rocky hill that stands above the city and is home to several ancient ruins, including the Parthenon, which is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The temple was built in the 5th century BC and is considered one of the greatest architectural achievements of ancient Greece.
Other popular sites in Athens include the Ancient Agora, which was the heart of the city’s political and commercial life in ancient times, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is one of the largest ancient temples in the world.
Visiting Athens is a unique experience as you get to see the birthplace of democracy and Western civilization. The city is also known for its delicious food, vibrant nightlife, and stunning beaches.
When visiting Athens, it is recommended to wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved. It is also important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen as the area can get very hot during the summer months.
Athens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see destination for anyone interested in ancient history and architecture. The city’s unique blend of ancient ruins and modern-day amenities makes it a perfect destination for travelers of all ages.
Rome, Italy, is a treasure trove of history and culture that continues to draw millions of tourists every year. Rome is known as the “Eternal City” because it has been the site of many important events and the birthplace of many great things over its long and eventful history.
Romulus and Remus, who were twin brothers, are said to have started the city of Rome in 753 BC.Over time, the city grew and became the capital of the Roman Republic, which lasted from 27 BC to 476 AD, and then of the Roman Empire.
Landmarks and Monuments: The Colosseum, an iconic symbol of Rome, was built in 70–80 AD as a grand arena for gladiatorial contests and other spectacles. This impressive structure could hold up to 50,000 spectators and is a must-visit destination for any tourist.
The Roman Forum is another interesting place. It was the center of political, social, and religious life in ancient Rome.Here, you can stroll among the ruins of temples, basilicas, and triumphal arches that once formed the heart of the city.
The Pantheon was built in 125 AD during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Its huge concrete dome and oculus make it a masterpiece of architecture.It is still one of the oldest buildings in Rome that has been kept in the best shape. It shows how creative Roman architects were.
Vatican City is an independent country, but it is located in Rome. It is home to the world-famous St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel, which is famous for Michelangelo’s paintings.
Roman Daily Life: While exploring Rome, you’ll gain insight into the everyday lives of ancient Romans. Public baths were a big part of Roman life, and the Baths of Caracalla were one of the biggest and nicest ones.These buildings were social centers where people could bathe, work out, and talk about important ideas.
The ancient Romans also enjoyed a good meal, and remnants of Roman taverns, known as “thermopolia,” can still be seen today. These establishments were the fast-food joints of their time, offering ready-made meals for busy urban dwellers.
Rome’s Legacy: Ancient Rome still has an effect on many parts of modern life, such as government, law, language, and art.A visit to Rome offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of history that has shaped not only Italy but also the world.
In conclusion, Rome is an enchanting city that offers a wealth of ancient sites and monuments to explore. For tourists seeking to delve into history, the Eternal City will not disappoint.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is an ancient temple complex located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was built in the 12th century by the Khmer Empire and is the largest religious monument in the world.
The temple complex is known for its stunning architecture and intricate carvings, including scenes from Hindu epics and historical events. It was originally built as a Hindu temple, but was later converted into a Buddhist temple.
Visiting Angkor Wat is a unique experience as you get to see a city that was built more than 800 years ago and has remained relatively intact. The temple complex is surrounded by a moat and is home to several other temples, including the Bayon temple and the Ta Prohm temple.
When visiting Angkor Wat, it is recommended to hire a guide to help you navigate the complex and to learn more about its history and significance.
Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see destination for anyone interested in ancient history and architecture. The temple complex’s unique blend of Hindu and Buddhist influences and its stunning natural surroundings make it one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world.
Cusco, located in southeastern Peru, was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. The city is situated at an altitude of 3,399 meters above sea level and is surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys.
One of the most famous sites in Cusco is the Sacsayhuaman fortress, which is an Inca ruin that is believed to have been built in the 15th century. The fortress is known for its impressive stone walls and is one of the largest and most significant archaeological sites in the city.
Other popular sites in Cusco include the Qoricancha temple, which was once the most important temple in the Inca Empire, and the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, which is a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture.
Visiting Cusco is a unique experience as you get to see the city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also known for its vibrant culture and delicious cuisine, including the famous dish of ceviche.
When visiting Cusco, it is recommended to take it slow and allow time for acclimatization to the high altitude. It is also important to wear comfortable shoes and to bring sunscreen and water as the area can get very hot during the day.
Cusco is a must-see destination for anyone interested in ancient civilizations and archaeology. The city’s unique blend of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture and its stunning natural surroundings make it a perfect destination for travelers of all ages.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Chichén Itzá is an ancient city located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It was built by the Maya civilization and was at its peak between the 9th and 12th centuries AD.
One of the most famous structures in Chichén Itzá is the Temple of Kukulcan, also known as El Castillo. The temple is known for its impressive architecture and its astronomical significance, as the angles of the temple’s staircase align with the sun during the equinoxes.
Other popular sites in Chichén Itzá include the Ball Court, which is one of the largest and best-preserved ball courts in Mesoamerica, and the Cenote Sagrado, which was a sacred well used for ritual sacrifices.
Visiting Chichén Itzá is a unique experience as you get to see a city that was built more than 1,000 years ago and has remained relatively intact. The city is surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings and is home to several other ruins and temples.
Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see destination for anyone interested in ancient history and architecture. The city’s unique blend of Maya and Toltec influences and its stunning natural surroundings make it one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world.
Ephesus is an old city on the western coast of Turkey. It is one of the world’s best-preserved old cities.It was started in the 10th century BC and was at its best during the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD.
One of the most famous structures in Ephesus is the Library of Celsus, which is an ancient Roman library that was built in the 2nd century AD. The library is known for its impressive architecture and its historical significance, as it was once one of the largest and most important libraries in the world.
Other popular sites in Ephesus include the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the Great Theater, which was the largest open-air theater in the ancient world.
Visiting Ephesus is a unique experience as you get to see a city that was once a major center of trade, culture, and religion. The city is in a beautiful part of nature and is home to a number of ruins and temples.
Ephesus is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place that everyone who likes ancient history and architecture should visit. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world because it has a unique mix of Greek, Roman, and Christian influences and is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery.
Tikal is an old Maya city in the Guatemalan rainforest. It is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites from the time before Columbus.The city was at its peak between the 6th and 10th centuries AD and was a major center of trade, culture, and religion.
One of the most famous structures in Tikal is the Temple of the Great Jaguar, which is an ancient temple that was built in the 8th century AD. People know about the temple’s beautiful architecture and the fact that it was once the center of religious and political life in the city.
The Temple of the Masks, which is a pyramid-shaped temple with stucco masks on it, and the Central Acropolis, which was where the city’s elite lived, are also popular places to visit in Tikal.
Visiting Tikal is a unique experience, as you get to see a city that was built more than 1,000 years ago and has remained relatively intact. The city is surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings and is home to several other ruins and temples.
When visiting Tikal, it is recommended to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds and to wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved. It is also important to stay hydrated and to bring sunscreen and water, as the area can get very hot during the day.
Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see destination for anyone interested in ancient history and archaeology. The city’s unique blend of Maya culture and stunning natural surroundings make it one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world.
Syria is a Middle Eastern country that is still healing from a civil war that has been going on for almost a decade and has been full of rebel groups, jihadists, and violent separatist movements.There are still small battles in the east of the country, but big towns like Damascus are mostly safe.
Even with the recent war, the history of Syria’s city is one of the most interesting in the world. Damascus is still the city where people have lived the longest, and it shows. The city has been ruled by the Romans, the Persians, the Greeks, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. Because so many people have lived there before, there are a lot of old cultures that are rarely seen anywhere else.