Hot on the heels of my Natural Wonders post I thought it only right to share my top five man-made wonders.
Despite the crowds of modern-day tourists these places tell the story of ancient people and cultures.
They stand as monuments to the achievements of ancient civilisations
Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched high atop a mountain in the Urubamba valley in Peru, Machu Picchu is the ultimate symbol of the Inca Empire. Reclaimed by the forest and left undiscovered by the outside world until 1911, the site escaped plunder by the Spanish Conquistadors and lay untouched by humans for over 300 years.
Despite being considered somewhat of a ‘travel cliché’ by some, Machu Picchu is a highlight of my South America trip.
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal must surely be the most elaborate testament to a broken heart in history. Built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal is the mausoleum that houses both their bodies. Inlaid with semi-precious stones set in elaborate designs, the Taj Mahal is so beautiful up-close that no picture can truly do justice to the craftsmanship. It is said that Shah Jahan had the hands of the builders engaged on the project cut off to avoid a replica of his masterpiece, but it is hard to find evidence of this as historical fact.
The opaque nature of marble allows the light to shine through the stone causing the whole building to take on different colours throughout the day. Totally breathtaking.
Great Wall, China
Although the common belief that the Great Wall of China is visible from space is actually unfounded, it is without doubt an incredible structure. With construction of the wall taking centuries, and incurring a death toll running into hundreds of thousands, the Great Wall tells a tale of history unrivalled by any other man-made structure.
Much of the wall has now fallen into disrepair and the parts most frequented by tourists are overwrought with pushy touts and guides, but standing at one of the wall’s famous watchtowers and watching it undulate snake-like through the barren wilderness can only inspire feelings of wonder.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Like Machu Picchu parts of the Angkor Wat complex have been reclaimed by the jungle, but unlike Machu Picchu Angkor Wat was not lucky enough to escape interference by threatening forces, falling victim to theft at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s.
Bathed in intense tropical heat and surrounded by dense jungle, it is hard not to feel like an explorer wandering around the temples of Angkor Wat—that is if you can avoid the other tourists. Once you have wandered around the fascinating Angkor Wat site it is well worth visiting the dilapidated remains of nearby temple Ta Prohm where the trees have grown over the stone .
Stonehenge, United Kingdom
With a mass of up to 40 tonnes each and originating from Pembrokeshire, over 200 kilometres from Salisbury Plain on which they now stand, the question of how the stones came to the site is only one of the mysteries of Stonehenge. A site of mystery and intrigue, Stonehenge dates back to before written records and rumours abound as to its purpose.
Three I’d like to Visit
- Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
- Chichen Itza, Mexico
- Colosseum, Rome
Have you ever wanted to visit these sites? Have you already been? Are you put off by places that have become consumed by tourism? Feel free to leave a comment below.