History can be fun, if you learn it the right way – by travelling. There’s no better way of learning about new cultures and their past but visiting their landmarks and monuments. These sites provide a glimpse on how people used to live and think hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
Macchu Picchu, Peru
The so called Lost City of the Incas was built somewhere around 1450, although there are theories that people lived there even before that. Abandoned during the Spanish conquest of the region, its existence remained a secret until it was discovered by the American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then Macchu Picchu continues to amaze both scholars and tourists with its spectacular location, buildings and layout. It was probably built to serve as the residence of the Inca emperor Pachacuti and centuries later it’s the most recognizable symbol of the long gone Inca culture. An internet poll conducted in 2007 voted Machu Picchu as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Probably the most famous prehistoric monument in the world, this millennia old ring of stones remains a mystery to this day; scientists believe it was built somewhere in between 3000 BC and 2000 BC and the theories regarding its function are diverse and many. The most popular one, however, is that the site served as a burial ground, as numerous traces of human bones were found deep underground. It’s even possible that it served as a place of pilgrimage for people of Neolithic and the Bronze Age, as it is located in the middle of a complex of monuments dating from those periods.
Taj Mahal, India
One of the most beautiful buildings in India and the whole world was built in the 17 century as the mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan. She died in childbirth, and her grieving husband had it build in her honor: it is estimated that more than twenty thousand artisans worked on Taj Mahal for about twenty years. Attracting more than three million visitors per year, it’s regarded as the greatest example of Mughal architecture and the jewel of India, symbol of the country’s rich history.
Pyramids in Egypt
The burial sites of pharaohs and their spouses are among the largest manmade structures even in the 21th century; from the oldest ones built in Djoser (built during the third dynasty in 2630BC) to the most famous ones in Giza near Cairo. The amount of architectural and engineering skills necessary to build such structures is truly impressive, and their crucial part in the rich Egyptian mythology and religion added to their mystery and fame. The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest pyramid in Egypt and the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World.
The Great Wall of China
More than twenty thousand kilometers long fortifications made of brick, stone, tamped earth and other materials, the Great Wall of China used to protect the northern border of China against foreign invaders, most notably raiders of nomadic people of the steppes. The oldest parts were built in 7th century BC, and since then it has been rebuilt, expanded and reshaped numerous times: most of the existing wall dates from the Ming Dynasty. It also served as a transportation corridor and a trade route.
All these sites are an essential part of mankind’s history, carefully protected so the generations that follow after us would also enjoy their beauty.