Historical places in the world help us understand our evolution on this planet. Most of the famous historical places are humanity’s feat of engineering and makes us understand the bigger picture. Let’s travel through the top 12 historical places in the world with pictures that bring history alive and leave us astonished. Plan a visit to these places early in the mornings and stay late in the evenings, to witness the splendour during sunrise and Sunset.
10 Famous Historical Places In The World
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Colosseum, Italy
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- The Great Wall of China
- Petra, Jordan
- The pyramid of Giza, Egypt
- Taj Mahal, India
- Tikal, Guatemala
- Stonehenge, Salisbury
- Sukhothai, Thailand
- Acropolis, Greece
- Borobudur, Indonesia
1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, is present in the scenic country of Cambodia. This temple was built in the 12th century by Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire and one of the amazing historical places in the world. Khmer Empire was one of the powerful empires in Southeast Asia evident through the grandeur of the Angkor Wat. This temple-mountain covers more than 400 acres of area.
The temple was first dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu, and then the orientation of kings towards Buddhism transformed it into a Buddhist shrine. The large temple complex with artistic sculptures and marvellous water canals attract millions of tourists every year. The main temple situated in a scenic background is known for its rustic stone walls and series of sculptures that tell the stories of Cambodian people.
There are tour buses which cover all the major attractions in and around Angkor Wat. One can also enjoy the aerial view of the temple complex through hot air balloon rides available.
- How to reach: Siem Reap is the nearby town with a domestic airport. It is also connected through roads and waterways from Phnom Penh with regular services. Siem Reap is the best place to stay and visit Angkor Wat.
- Best time to visit: December to January are the best months to visit as the climate is pleasant. Early morning visits save you from the big tourist groups. Sunrise and Sunset offer the best views of the temple.
- Entry Fees: One day pass is sold at $37, while people also opt for three days ($62) and seven days ($72) passes to enjoy a full view of the temple complex. The tickets can be purchased at the main entrance to Angkor Wat.
- Opening hours: 5.00 am to 6.00 pm
2. Colosseum, Italy
Colosseum, the biggest Amphitheatre in the world, was once the site for Gladiatorial combats and large events in ancient Rome. This elliptical wonder is 180 ft high and can hold up to 80,000 people. This was built around 72 AD and is an exceptional example of Roman Architecture. Colosseum is the origin of many stories about the ancient culture of entertainment like animal exhibitions, gladiator style of fights and many historical combats.
The Colosseum has over 80 gates and has special interior designs for controlling animals and crowds. Considered as a gift to the Roman citizens, this very old arena was destroyed due to Earthquakes, Fire and other natural calamities. The remaining ruins are still a magnificent site attracting millions of people. A significant historical place in the world, Colosseum is a reminder of Capital punishment and is now used as a symbol against it. The colours of Colosseum lights change during major incidents of capital punishment.
You should opt for a guided tour to have a good view of the arena, walk where the gladiators battled and look at the dens that held the exotic animals.
- How to reach: The Colosseum is well connected through Public transports of Rome. You can also take a scenic walk from Central Rome to Colosseum.
- Best time to visit: Low season times(November to February) are the best to have an uninterrupted view of the monument. Since it’s the busiest place in Rome, arrive at 8.30 in the morning or late after 3 in the afternoon.
- Entry Fees: Tickets start from 12 Euros, you can also opt for a guided tour to skip the line and have an informative visit.
- Opening hours: Colosseum always opens at 8.30 am, but the closing times vary with changing seasons.
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3. Machu Picchu, Peru
The ruins of Machu Picchu are the remaining of the ancient city of the Inca empire. This city was discovered by Hiram Bingham when he was looking for the capital of Inca civilization. Machu Picchu was the hidden city of Incas which was deserted during the Spanish invasion. This beautiful stone city is located on the top of the Andes Mountain in Cusco region. Though a small city, it is enigmatic with agricultural terraces; natural springs and stone houses to self sustain the community that lived there. This extraordinary city dances when earthquakes occur as the mortar is not used to bind the stones together.
The mountain paradise is open all year round. It is considered an engineering marvel as it was constructed without mortar, wheels or metal tools so you will have to walk a lot of steps to witness the advanced engineering of Incas. The historical place does not have any signs of explanation, preserving it as it is, but visit the museum at the base of Machu Picchu to understand the history.
- How to reach: Machu Picchu is easily reached through a train trip from Cusco to a station called Aguas Calientes. This is a scenic 3.5 hr ride through the mountains which takes you very near to Machu Picchu (There are also beautiful hike routes open during dry season).
- Best time to visit: There are dry and wet seasons in the mountains, it depends on your preference on when to visit. Check the weather before you leave as the rainy season can be a little hard.
- Entry Fees: Starts from $70 and it is available at Cusco town and not at Machu Picchu.
- Opening hours: 6 am – 5:30 pm
4. The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China was visualized in the 5th century and was built and rebuilt till 16th century by emperors of China to prevent the Mongols from invading them. Though it did not prevent invasions, it is a major feat of engineering and is a massive structure with walls, stairs and forts over a rugged mountainous range. The Great Wall of China is a must-see attraction in China and attracts lots of tourists.
This splendid structure is spread over 20,000 km. It is not a single wall, but a series of walls interspersed with natural mountains strategized for defence.The Great wall is accessible to tourists from many locations, and the famous ones are Badaling, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Juyongguan, Jinshanling and Simatai. Now, the great wall apart from sightseeing offers adventures like paragliding, hiking, cable car rides and conducts marathons every year.
- How to reach: Beijing is the centre of all the famous locations of the Great Wall. There are buses and taxi services frequently from Beijing.
- Best time to visit: Spring and fall seasons are the best time to visit as the mountains are beautiful and the crowd is less.
- Entry Fees: Starts from 40 Yuan
- Opening hours: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm (also varies based on season and location)
5. Petra, Jordan
Petra is the prehistoric Jordan city that is spread over a hundred square miles. This lost city to the world was once a rising city of Nabateans, an Arabic tribe in the deserts. This city is known for its tombs, temples and caves carved out of blush pink sandstone canyons. Around 2000 years ago, the people of ancient Petra was wealthy and built stunning structures through the sandstone ridges with innovative water supply systems. This brilliant architectural marvel was expanded by the Romans and eventually destroyed by earthquakes and then went invisible in the shifting sands.
Present day, Petra is one of the new world wonders and attracts millions of visitors for its raw beauty. Petra is an art city carved out of colour changing natural stones, making it a surreal place amidst the desert. The famous attractions are Streets of Facades, High Place of Sacrifice, Royal Tombs, Roman Theatre and Monastery.
- How to reach: Petra is accessible through two international airports of Amman and Aqaba. From the airports, its two to three hours ride to Petra (there are a camel, horse, bullock rides inside Petra to explore the lost city)
- Best time to visit: spring and autumn time is pleasant and warm, while summers are very hot.
- Entry Fees: 90 JOD is the entry for one day; while its extra 15 JOD to visit at night. (There are candlelit events at night three times a week).
- Opening hours: 6 am to 6 pm in summer, and 6 am to 4 pm in winter
6. The pyramid of Giza, Egypt
The pyramids are the mysterious structures built by ancient Egyptians 3000 years back. The precise structures have endured an eternity and stand tall till date. There are three large and three small pyramids in the Giza region and the statue of Great Sphinx. Researchers still cannot find how these precise tombs were built, making it a mystery. The history says Egypt rulers built pyramids to prepare themselves for the next world with all the things they would need there.
The tombs have art scenes in the walls, which depict the lives of Egypt people, making it not just a cemetery but a documentation of their lives. This stone structure with astronomical significance is a most voted wonder in the world. Though the mummies are moved to Egypt museum, a visit inside the pyramid is enthralling. A visit to the museum is essential to see all the preserved goods of the Pharaohs of Egypt.
- How to reach: Cairo has a well-connected airport. When in Cairo, take cabs or tourist buses to the Pyramids.
- Best time to visit: October to April is pleasant, and arrive early on the sites to have a crowd-free glimpse.
- Entry Fees: Entry is around $20 while each pyramid requires a separate entry fee.
- Opening hours: 8 am to 5 pm (October to March), 7 am to 7 pm (April to September)
7. Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, the most famous architectural marvel of India, is located like a magic at the banks of River Yamuna. This epitome of love is arguably one of the most beautiful structures on earth. It took 20 years and 20000 workmen to complete this marble decorated tomb. There are four minarets at four sides tilted away from the main dome forming the magnificent Taj Mahal with beautiful gardens around it. There is a working mosque inside the complex; thus, Fridays are holidays and only open to muslims for prayers.
Night viewing of Taj Mahal is also available for five nights a month. It is during full moon nights and days before and after. This marble mausoleum does not need lighting and shines on full moon nights. The Taj Mahal changes its color according to the position of the Sun, it is pinkish in mornings and bluish in evenings. When you visit, do click photos from the optimal locations when you can capture the full glory of this amazing historical place in the world.
- How to reach: Agra has well-connected air, road and rail transports. There are many local transport options to reach Taj Mahal from the city.
- Best time to visit: Taj Mahal can be visited at any time of the year, but the climate is pleasant during winters (Try to visit during sunrise hours for a spectacular view).
- Entry Fees: Rs. 50 for Indians and Rs 1100 for NRI. There is an additional cost of Rs 200 to visit the mausoleum
- Opening hours: 6:00 am to 6:30 pm
8. Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal is the most famous Mayan ruin in Central America. It is utterly magical as its rustic steep-sided temples are situated among a dense forest area. The ancient ruin in the backdrop of wild nature is one of the most famous historical places in the world. This place is less crowded, and frequent spotting of monkeys, macaws, foxes, etc. make it a feel-good experience. The Mayan Civilization was the most progressive settlements with sports stadiums, libraries, schools and hospitals. The capital of thriving Mayan Civilization for many years, the Tikal ruins have famous buildings of the ancient culture.
The major attractions of Tikal park are a 70ft temple with steep stairs (Temple IV), Temples I, II &V, grand plaza, lost world pyramid, etc.. These ruins peek over the rainforest canopy and can be seen by taking scenic trails through the forest and temples. Tikal Museum is a must see, to witness various things of Mayan Civilization. There are also cable car rides to treetops outside Tikal, which are adventurous and offers the best views of the park.
- How to reach: Flores is the nearby city to Tikal; there are regular buses from 5 am
- Best time to visit: December to February are pleasant in this region. Sunrise and Sunset visits are magical at this mystic place (try to stay overnight in the park’s accommodation or in Flores to enjoy these views).
- Entry Fees: $20
- Opening hours: 6:00 am to 5:00 pm
9. Stonehenge, Salisbury
It is an ancient 4000 years old site, known for the stone circles. Stonehenge is a mystery to the world as to why it was constructed and how it was done. It was believed to be a burial site and then the centre of many settlements. Stonehenge has a significant astronomical link which is astonishing to learn. One can’t walk into the stone circle but can walk around the fenced path to observe this prehistoric place.
The surrounding is beautiful and a well-maintained site which attracts millions of tourists for its mystical nature. Considered one of the famous historical places in the world, Stonehenge is a subject of long research for its meaning and purpose.
- How to reach: There are many public transport options from London to Salisbury. The most famous way is to catch a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury. There are shuttle buses from Salisbury to Stonehenge.
- Best time to visit: Summer is the best time, but spring to autumn visitors can escape the crowd and enjoy a moderate climate.
- Entry Fees: starting from $25
- Opening hours: 9.30 am to 7 pm
Also See: 20 Budget destination to visit in Europe
10. Sukhothai, Thailand
It is the capital city in Thailand and has the ancient ruins of Thailand’s earliest settlements from the 13th century. Sukhothai, one of the ancient historical places in the world, meaning Dawn of Happiness, is popular for the lakeside old city that houses 11 ancient structures. Sukhothai historical park can be explored through a ride over the lakes with 70 places of attractions. The park can also be explored with bicycles as it is huge. There are large Buddha statues, Buddha images and lotus bud towers around the ruins.
Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is close to the park and has many artefacts, writings preserved from the Sukhothai Empire. The ancient city surrounded by moats, lakes and bridges is a beautiful sight, and there are many restaurants which serve Sukhothai style food. Exploring the night market in the Sukhothai city and relishing traditional food makes the experience complete.
- How to reach: Sukhothai has a well-connected bus station, while there are also timed flights from Bangkok to Sukhothai twice a day.
- Best time to visit: November to February is an ideal time, while Sunrise and Sunsets are beautiful as the lakes reflect beautiful sceneries.
- Entry Fees: 100 baht
- Opening hours: 6:30 am to 6 pm
11. Acropolis, Greece
Acropolis towers the city of Athens. It symbolizes the ancient Greece. The city has always been breathtaking but is recently getting the recognition that it deserves. The ancient temple Parthenon is the most recognizable structure there. It stands tall there as a symbol of the power of Athens. This ancient city is one of the best historical places in the world for all the history buffs out there.
- How to reach: Acropolis is just steps away from Athens and is easily accessible. One has to climb up the hill to reach Acropolis after one reaches one of the two entry gates at the foot of the hill. There are three train stations around the hill that one can take. One can disembark from either the Monastiraki or the Thesion museum or take the other entrance at the Acropolis metro station near the Acropolis museum. Both these entrances will take you to the actual entrance to Acropolis, the Propylaea.
- Best time to visit:The best time to visit Athens is late-March through early-June or late-September through early-November when the weather is hot but pleasant and the peak tourist crowds have decreased. And the best time to visit Acropolis is late in the afternoon when the summer heat is gone and it is quieter.
- Entry Fees: The entry fee is around 20 euros and is good for some other sites in the area.
- Opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
12. Borobudur, Indonesia
It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. The temple design follows the Javanese Buddhist architecture. The temple reflects India’s influence on the region. This site was uncovered by the British in the 1800’s and later restored.
The site is set in lush, tropical surroundings, with mountains and volcanoes rising in the distance. The site is both visually stunning and soothingly peaceful. If you are backpacking Indonesia you should pay a visit to Borobudur.
- How to reach: You can use the local bus terminus at Jogjakarta to catch a bus to Magelang or Muntilan. From both the locations you can catch a bus to the Borobudur terminus. You can also head to the temple from Semarang.
- Best time to visit: The best time to visit Borobudur Temple is during dawn at 6 am (for the sunrise) and dusk from 3pm onwards (for the sunset).
- Entry Fees: $25 USD
- Opening hours: 6am to 5pm every day.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many World UNESCO sites are there?
There are a total of 878 World Heritage sites.
2. Which country has the most UNESCO sites?
Italy has the most number of World Heritage sites. It has a total of 55 World Heritage sites.
3. How many Unesco sites are in Europe?
There are more than 400 sites in Europe.
4. Is Jaipur a world heritage city?
Yes, Jaipur is a World Heritage Site.