10 best ruins – famous and not-so-famous

Travel Destinations — By on October 29, 2011 at 9:23 am
Mesa Verde

Ancient ruins at Mesa Verde National Park.

Everyone loves ancient ruins, don’t they? Yahoo! Travel recently compiled a list of 10 of the best ruins around the world and it included some of the usual suspects – the Great Pyramids, Machu Picchu, the Acropolis – but also a few sites that are stunning in their own right but not quite as well known. These included Tikal, a Mayan city in Guatemala; Palmyra, an ancient desert city in Syria, and Mesa Verde, the clifftop remains of an American Indian settlement in Colorado. An excerpt from the article:

Tikal, Guatemala – Stay overnight in the national park for the ultimate experience at Tikal, an ancient Maya city in northern Guatemala that was home to 90,000 people before being abandoned in the tenth century. Early the next morning, before the park opens to the general public, join a small group making the trek through a jungle awash in the pre-dawn symphony of birds and insects. Climb to the top of Temple IV, the Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent, to witness a sunrise that reveals ancient temples and pyramids rising from the verdant forest blanket. You’ve still got hours to explore this vast complex of pyramids, temples, and plazas before the big crowds roll in. Along the way, catch glimpses of brown coatis, toucans, howler monkeys, and some of the hundreds of other species to call Tikal home.

Palmyra, Syria – Twice a day, at sunrise and sunset, the Bride of the Desert blushes, even 18 centuries after her birth. Palmyra, also known as Tadmor, is in the desert northeast of Damascus, Syria, and was once a wealthy caravan oasis along the Silk Road, linking Persia, India, and China with the Roman Empire. At a crossroads of cultures, the ruins of grand colonnaded streets, temples, funerary towers, and aqueducts demonstrate a mingling of influences that made this an awfully cosmopolitan place for the second century. Palmyra was also home to the warrior queen and conqueror Zenobia, and tour guides tell exciting tales that give this seemingly isolated place a starring role in world history.

Mesa Verde, Colorado, USA – Great ruins aren’t always an ocean away: Some of the best preserved Native American cliff dwellings in North America reside in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Home to the Ancestral Puebloans—whose descendants became 20 different Southwestern tribes, including the Hopi and Zuni—Mesa Verde traces 700 years of history across 4,000 archeological sites. Visit mesa-top pueblos and the dwellings built beneath massive overhanging cliffs. Ascend steep trails and ladders, or crawl through tunnels to explore ancient architecture such as the 150-room Cliff Palace or the hard-to-reach Balcony House. The park’s hours vary by season, and not all sites are open year-round.

Check out the entire article for the full list of 10 ancient ruins to add to your travel list.

 

Photo credit: Bob Riel

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