Stonehenge is often used as the benchmark when describing extremely old places, but the truth is that there are many monuments and archaeological sites that predate this more famous one by thousands of years.
It's also worth mentioning that the huge shadow cast by Stonehenge has kept most of the sites we’ll be discussing from being overrun by excited travelers. Now is a particularly good time to begin organizing a visit to the places on our list since the summer solstice is on its way. Many of these sites were planned around the movements of the planets and stars, making them extra special when the time comes.
Let's look at 20 ancient sites older than Stonehenge (worth planning your next trip around).
19 Stones of Stenness soar over Scottish flatlands
Somewhere at the center of a green field in Orkey Scotland, you’ll find this sparse collection of stones. Their height and sharp angles make them striking in this underpopulated town. There is one more stone not seen here since it faces the water, earning it the name the Watch Stone.
18 The wheel of the giants takes us to the East
Reasons, why the ancients transported nearly 40,000 tons of stone to this field in the Golan Heights, are still unclear. That doesn’t make exploring the site any less intriguing. Plan visits during weekends or holidays since Daily Mail lists these as the only times when it's open to tourists.
17 Zorats Karer has remained rough around the edges
Rustic sites like this one are the expectation when talking about ancient monuments. Stones dulled by old age are pretty common, but the jagged edges of Zorats Karer make it look much more authentic. Armenia’s gorgeous summer scenery makes attractions like these easy additions to the itinerary.
16 But Almendres Cromlech has softened in its old age
Completely smooth edges separate these standing stones from the likes of others on the list. While this batch is located in the dirt clearing of a forest in Évora, Portugal, others are scattered throughout. Overlooked prehistoric sites like this one are one of the reasons Portugal is so underrated.
15 The ancient neighborhood called Khirokitia
Cyprus is often overshadowed by a bigger Greek-speaking nation with its own collection of interesting sites, but Khirokritia predates many of them. The tiny mud-brick houses seen here take us back to the time when hunter and gatherers first began to develop their own civilizations.
14 Don't mistake this ancient grave for a hobbit hole
There are actually five burial mounds like the one in this photo that were built close enough together to all be known as the Tumulus of Bougon. They’re found in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine province of France along with a botanical garden and museum that cover the area’s history.
13 Nuevo Tolima's art has hardly aged
Extensive stretches of art that turn Colombia’s stone cliffs into canvases might be just as vivid as the day they were made millennia ago. They’re located in the Guaviare countryside and were only recently opened to tourism, according to Trans-Americas. So, the land and its adventures are still new.
12 The old town of Avebury holds many prehistoric secrets
Prehistoric sites are found all over Avebury village, including the stone circle that surrounds it, according to English Heritage. The South Long Barrow tomb simply happens to be one of the oldest in the area. Its spooky inner chamber is large enough for tourists to venture in if they dare.
11 World’s largest rock art collection in Murujuga
Mounds of red rock scattered across this Australian peninsula create a natural art gallery that travelers are welcome to explore at their own pace. These stone etchings depict the lives of indigenous populations that were present 30,000 years ago, according to Karratha. Their descendants still occupy the area.
10 Monte D'Accoddi wasn't always this peaceful
Grassy slopes lined with stone form two sacrificial altars in this Sardinian monument, according to Tharros. There are no entrances to explore, but climbing the steps to the structure's top gives visitors a clear view of the empty fields in the area and mountains that rise up in the distance.
9 Newgrange heats up on the winter solstice
During the winter solstice, light slips through the narrow passageway of this tomb, lighting it from front to back. So many people long to experience this event from inside the building that a lottery is used to narrow down the guest list, according to the Newgrange website.
8 People of the past left their mark in the Cueva de las Manos
The UNESCO website states that at least 9,500 years ago, groups of prehistoric people painted their handprints onto this cave's walls. Many similar caves in more popular regions have already been closed to protect them from damage. This one hasn’t yet. Check it out in Argentina before that changes.
7 Barnenez Cairn does its duty as a landmark
Cairns were signposts that marked something special in the area. Most are small rock piles that could go unnoticed. This one’s tangled stone walls reach out far in both directions and stack up in layers. Whatever this ancient community was marking, they wanted to make sure that it couldn’t be missed.
6 Not much came before Göbekli Tepe
National Geographic’s estimated age for this site of 12,000 years makes Stonehenge sound like recent history. What’s left of it is kept intact by limiting visitors to the surrounding balcony. From there, you can see carved pillars and crumbling temples that have scientists reconsidering the timeline of civilization’s development.
5 Dolmen de Menga is pretty spacious for a tomb
Two other stone tombs are described on the Andalucia website at Antequera in Spain, but neither one is as large as the Dolmen de Menga. The big open area attracts many visitors. Especially during the summer solstice when the sun aligns with the entrance in the early morning hours.
4 France's Carnac Stones reach as far as the eye can see
Most of the Carnac stones are quite small compared to other Neolithic monuments on this list, but they cover over two miles of land. Le Petit Train de Carnac advertises a $7-$8 train service on their website for guests who don’t want to take the walk.
3 Ħaġar Qim has seen better centuries
The temple isn’t far from Malta’s famous Blue Grotto which makes it a great location for tourists that want to maximize their time. However, being oceanside has its disadvantages. Times of Malta reports that a protective tent was put up to prevent frequent rains and wind from causing further deterioration.
2 Next door neighbor Ggantija is holding on too
This Maltese temple complex is located in the same region as the last, but it's still open to the air. Those in charge of this site instead chose to construct walkways that take visitors on a tour alongside the temples rather than through them to preserve the original structure.
1 Hilly hideaway Skara Brae
The pits seen in this picture are actually homes that were sunken into this grassy mound, according to Orkney Jar. Visitors aren’t allowed to jump down into the rooms, but they’re all visible from the path. Hearths and furniture built from stone are still present in many of them.