25 Ancient Places That The World Clearly Neglected (And We're Thankful For)

Evidence of ancient civilizations lie in countries all over the world and can be a humbling reminder of how even the most powerful empires can come to an end. There are a lot of sites around the world that offer visitors a unique peek into the past and one is often left to wonder what kind of people built the architectural marvels that have withstood the test of time?

Although modern times have produced some pretty impressive engineering and architectural feats of their own, technology has come a very long way in order to help us create such magnificent structures. Ancient civilizations often had to rely on much cruder tools to help them craft huge monuments and buildings, but this only goes to show how impressive many of the ruins on this list really are when we take into consideration that so much of it was built by sheer human will and intellect.

It is incredible to think that at one time, the neglected places on the list below were once thriving and bustling with people going along their daily lives. However, time moves on and so do people. What is left behind are only remnants of the great civilizations of the past that we now have the means to visit and admire for what the contributed to the modern world.

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25 Pyramids of Giza

via travelandleisure.com

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the epitome of an ancient marvel. The construction of the pyramids are so precise that it is almost hard to believe that they were designed and built between 2589 and 2504 BC. One of the several amazing facts about the architecture of these pyramids is that the temperature inside them remains constant no matter the time of day or year at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The three pyramids are named Menkaure, Khafre, and Khufu which are made with stone blocks that weighed anywhere between 2 to 30 tons and are all precisely aligned with the constellation of Orion. (ancient-code)

24 Roman Forum

via muralswallpaper.com

Considered by many to be the political, religious, and administrative center of Ancient Rome, the Roman Forum was a very active location for the ancient Roman civilization. It is one of the most visited places in the world today because it is so steeped in ancient history and because of the practice of building over other ruins, there are several centuries worth of architecture in just one place. An interesting fact about Roman life that visitors will get to see up close and personal are all of the temples around the area, some of which were dedicated to gods and goddesses, but some were dedicated to people who wanted to achieve great power. (aroundrometours)

23 Pompeii

via smagticket.com

The ancient city of Pompeii is well known for the sudden and impactful eruption that engulfed the entire region and trapped everything in a single moment in time. Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that caused this ancient city to become no more, had not erupted in over 1,800 years, so the people living in the area at the time had no idea of its power. Many people settled there because the volcanic soil was rich in minerals and nutrients and provided prime farming land for grapes and olive trees which were well known in the area before it became a life sized museum of past life in a Roman city. (aroundrometours)

22 Angkor Wat

via bunniktours.com.au

One of the distinguishing features of the temple of Angkor Wat located in India, is that it was used as a temple for both the Hindu religion and the Buddhist religion back in ancient times. It remains one of the largest religious monuments in the world and one of the most visited religious sites as well. Unlike the traditions of the time with temples facing to the east for the rising sun, the temple of Angkor Wat faces the west. Set against a lush and green landscape, the temples have remained well preserved and welcome millions of visitors every single year. (uniglobekalamalkatravel)

21 Cappadocia

via thenaturaladventure.com

Cappadocia means “the land of beautiful horses”, and was an ancient Greece city known for having underground and overground shelters for the people who made their home there centuries ago. The country is most known for its interesting formation of “Cappadocia faeries” which are composed of volcanic sediment that solidified into soft rock that was easy to carve. The hardened sediment eventually formed mushroom-like structures that are unlike anything else in the world. One of the few remaining cities that actually has some spots underground, Cappadocia has a large amount of monasteries and some of the most well preserved paintings of the Middle Ages. (thetravelzoneinc)

20 Baalbek

via triphistoric.com

The ancient city of Baalbek was destroyed by an earthquake in 1759, but used to be a powerful intersection of Roman and Greek influences. There are still a variety of different examples of this powerful combination of ancient intellect, with the temple of Bacchus and the temple of Jupiter being among some of the most impressive. Because of its abundance of temples, Baalbek was considered a sacred site in ancient times and there were several pilgrims that made the journey to worship at the numerous temples located there. Along with Bacchus and Jupiter, the people of Baalbek also built temples honoring Venus and Mercury. (encyclopedia)

19 Acropolis

via ancient.eu

The Acropolis of Athens is considered the birthplace of democracy and the most important center of ancient Greece. In the city named after the Goddess of wisdom, Athena, the Acropolis is an ancient testament to some of the earliest settlements known in Greece. Steeped in history, the Acropolis makes a great destination for tourists who want to go to the place that created the famous mythology of Greek gods and goddesses. Although the Acropolis itself has not been used for its intended purposes in ages, there are tours available for those who want to make the trek in the hot sun, and the Acropolis museum for those who want a respite but still want to enjoy ancient Greek art. (usatoday)

18 Tikal

via globeguide.ca

One of the most popular attractions in Guatemala, Tikal lies just two hours away from the border of Belize. Tikal is home to a majestic Mayan site, home to one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Tikal is an ancient village that still has the ruins of a number of architectural structures that showcase the customs and culture of the time. Among some of the ruins are pyramids, palaces, residences, administrative buildings, platforms, temples, and towers that reach over 70 meters high. The entire ancient village of Tikal was designated a UNESCO world heritage site. (cahalpech)

17 Petra

via nationalgeographic.com

Well known for its intricate stone-cut architecture and water conduit systems, the ancient city of Petra is home to architecture that is estimated to be over 2,000 years old. The site is home to over 800 carved tombs that unfortunately, have been weakened by the salt blowing in from the Dead Sea which compromises the integrity and inscriptions on the buildings. Most of the streets, arched gateways, and temples that are still standing today were carved from the kaleidoscopic sandstone. The ancient city was one of the oldest metropolises in the world since it was established in 312 BC. (northsouthtravel)

16 Bagan

via adventureinyou.com

The country of Bagan is known by many names; formerly named “Pagan” and also called “the sea of temples” because of its over 2,000 well preserved Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries constructed during the 11th to 13th century. Each detail was created with a specific purpose in mind, from the smallest details like which direction the structure was facing. Many of the small and large details were connected to spiritual meanings as the country is known for having the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist architecture, which is accessible by foot or even by hot air balloon. (royalcitytravel)

15 Teotihuacan

via ancient-origins.net

Teotihuacan was settled as early as 400 B.C. and when the Aztecs found the city in the 1400s, they named it ”the place where gods were created” to pay homage to the rich cultural history that is evident by the architecture that is still standing. The structures all have a purpose and are connected to a variety of symbolic references, such as a 1.5 mile long road called the “Avenue of the Dead” that is oriented slightly to the east and points directly at the nearby sacred peak of Cerro Gordo, an extinct volcano. Several pyramids, plazas, temples, and palaces still remain and give a glimpse to the structure of an ancient civilization. (history)

14 Borobudur

via youtube.com

The Borobudur Buddhist temple is considered to be one of the most beautiful temples in Indonesia and is listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest archaeological site and Buddhist temple in the world. Amazingly, Borobudur temple was built without using any kind of adhesive such as cement and instead each stone was meticulously stacked and bound so that they interlocked and stood the elements and test of time to leave behind ancient but very well preserved architectural marvels. The construction of the temple was as intentional as the geographic location. Borobudur sits among the two mountains and two rivers. (factsofindonesia)

13 Masada

via new.goisrael.com

Located high above the Dead Sea on a tall, rocky mesa, Masada is an ancient stone fortress that spans 840 acres on the edge of the Judean desert. The name Masada means strong foundation or support and the city was originally built as a castle complex before it was taken over by the Romans and used as a fortress. The city was often the site of many battles and changed hands frequently throughout history and in order to protect themselves, there was a wall built around the village. After being abandoned for centuries, a group of monks built a monastery among the ruins which makes Masada a unique testament to several different time periods. (history)

12 Ephesus

via slowtravelguide.com

Ephesus is considered one of the great outdoor museums in Turkey and at one point was once an ancient seaport, although now it sits 6 miles away from the sea. The city was once considered one of the most important Greek cities and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region. Because of its location, it was the target of a lot of battles and invaders and as a result, changed hands many times throughout history. It is considered one of the most important archaeological sites and hosts one of the original Seven Wonders of the World- the Temple of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, chastity, childbirth, wild animals and the wilderness. (history)

11 Arena of Nîmes

via en.wikipedia.org

With an impressive 126 staircases, 60 arches, and ability to seat 20,000 people, the Arena of Nîmes used to be home to a number of entertainment events in ancient Roman times such as bullfighting and gladiator fights. After the fall of the Roman empire, the arena actually turned into a fortress that housed an entire city of people. There is evidence and remains that show that at one point in time, there were fortified villages built inside the structure with wells, houses, two churches, and even a castle that were constructed inside the amphitheatre because it was easy to defend from invaders. (vignon-et-provence)

10 Ellora Caves

via tripadvisor.in

The Ellora Caves in India feature an uninterrupted stretch of monuments that date back to A.D. 600-1000 and include 34 monasteries and temples that extend over one mile long. To showcase the rare spirit of tolerance among religions, the carvings and dedications were not just geared toward one religion, instead there are carvings and monuments devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Along with its impressive architecture, the Ellora Caves are also one of the largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world and home to the largest single monolithic excavation ever found across the globe. (whc.unesco)

9 Stonehenge

via tallbloke.wordpress.com

The stones at Stonehenge are a true testament to the staying power of ancient structures against the forces of nature because it has survived many, many years of erosion. Built roughly 4,000-5,000 years ago, it was once part of a larger sacred landscape that included another massive stone monument about 15 times the size of the Stonehenge that is left standing today. It is believed that the stones were brought in from a location that is about 20 miles away, an incredible distance when we consider that each stone measures up to 30 feet and weighs as much as 25 tons. (livescience)

8 Carthage

via wondermondo.com

Carthage is a Latin name that means “new city”, although it is far from new at this point in time. The ancient city was located on the northern shore of Africa and because of its prime location on a peninsula in the Bay of Tunis, there were several merchants and explorers who settled there and made Carthage a very wealthy city. Most of the ruins that remain in the city are from the Roman period and include baths, an amphitheater, aqueducts and there are few remains from Carthage pre-Roman invasion, although a few Punic cemeteries, shrines, and fortifications have been discovered buried under the ruins. (encyclopedia)

7 Great Zimbabwe

via mrcaseyhistory.com

Great Zimbabwe lies in southeastern Zimbabwe and refers to extensive stone ruins of an African city during the Iron Age. The great ruins are spread across 200 acres and were believed to once hold up to 20,000 inhabitants when it was a thriving trading center from the 11th to the 15th centuries. There is evidence that the people there relied on cattle, crops, and trading of gold along the coasts of the Indian ocean in order to build their strong economy. The expansive ruins now are divided into three main areas: the Hill Complex, the Great Enclosure, and the Valley Ruins. (britannica)

6 Ta Prohm

via asiatourist.co

Ta Prohm showcases the patient but persistent will of nature in the trees that have completely overtaken the architecture that had been there for years. The temple had been left completely abandoned since 1186 and because no mortar was used between the stones of the structures, the roots of all different kinds of foliage wound their way around the structure which has resulted in a very clear merging of nature and human architecture. The temple was originally built to be a Buddhist monastery and a center of learning. In addition to the larger rooms in the sanctuary, there were also a number of smaller enclosures where students probably stayed in. (atlasobscura)

5 Colosseum

via travelandleisure.com

Considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering, the Colosseum is capable of hosting about 50,000 people and features 36 trap doors which show how keen ancient Romans were on creating spectacles for the audience. The ancient Romans took their entertainment so seriously, that there are even records of festivals that lasted up to 100 days. When they wanted a change of pace, they would flood the entire Colosseum and have miniature naval battles. Despite its incredible architectural integrity even for modern times, there were two earthquakes that devastated the structure and has resulted in the remains that we can visit today. (aroundrometours)

4 Diocletian’s Palace

via split-excursions.com

Representing a transitional style of half Greek and half Byzantine architecture, Diocletian’s Palace is considered one of the world’s largest and well preserved examples of Roman palatial architecture. The palace itself was built as both a city-palace and sea fortress, and the size is massive, spanning over 7 acres with walls that extend up to 705 feet! There are many other examples of the building’s past use with well preserved towers, gates, and sections dedicated to different populations like soldiers, guards, and servants. The palace really was a city within walls and had a number of churches that are still partially standing. (britannica)

3 Volubilis

via puremoroccotours.com

The ancient Roman city of Volubilis in Morocco is only about a two hour drive from the capital of the country, Rabat. Designated a UNESCO world heritage site in the last three decades, the ancient city of Volubilis sits at the foot of the imposing Atlas mountains and offers a breathtaking view of the natural beauty and fertile lands that must have been the norm for the ancient civilization that lived there over 2,000 years ago. Despite the thousands of years that it has been left abandoned and well preserved, the ancient ruins themselves lie on rich agricultural lands. (whc.unesco)

2 Machu Picchu

via danflyingsolo.com

The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu may be well known today as a hard to get to but worth it destination for adventurous travelers, but until the early 1900s, it was unknown to anyone in the modern world. Machu Picchu is also called the “Lost City of the Inca” because it is believed that during the Spanish invasion in the 1500s, the Spanish never found the isolated city. The city is stone carved against a cliff that overlooks the Urubamba River which makes it a rather difficult, but beautiful trek for anyone who wants to see a bit of ancient history among a stunning background. (peruhop)

1 Longmen Grottoes

via blueyedview.com

Located on both sides of the Yi River in China, the Longmen Grottoes are a display of intricate Chinese stone carving. The Grottoes are home to an astounding 2,300 caves that contain over 110,000 Buddhist stone statues and over 2,800 inscriptions. The inscriptions contain treatments for various illnesses and diseases which display a desire to share knowledge with a large amount of people throughout centuries through the hard work of wood carving. The landscape around the Longmen Grottoes has been well preserved and found to have retained its natural environment that has existed since the late 5th century, which makes for the full experience of going back in time. (whc.unesco)

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