top UNESCO world heritage sites petra jordan

7 Incredible Ancient Ruins to See Around the World

Fascinating ancient ruins abound across the globe, from crumbling cities to enduring temples that have weathered time’s trials. These remnants offer insight into the profound innovation and forward-thinking nature of ancient societies.

Even today, humanity does not create such monumental structures that can withstand the pressure of millennia. The amazing thing is that people were able to create such masterpieces before.

1. Petra

Nomads carved The Rose City of Petra, an ancient desert town, out of pink sandstone cliffs thousands of years ago. It is located in Jordan, nestled between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. At its prime, the city thrived with lush gardens, grand houses, and bustling markets.

However, a stroll, camel ride, or donkey ride through the Petra ruins unravels the sight of abandoned caves, temples, and tombs concealed within the city walls. Don’t miss the interior, which houses an Indiana-Jonesy royal tomb. Surprisingly, up to 95% of Petra’s ancient city still lies undiscovered, shrouded in mystery.

2. Rapa Nui National Park

Here, vast stone figures known as Moai dominate the landscape. These eerie statues, portraying ancestors of the Rapa Nui people, vary in height from 6 feet to 60 and were erected between the 10th and 16th centuries. A visit to the planet’s most secluded inhabited island is required to witness these artistic marvels.

rapa nui easter island

This isolation fostered distinctive artistic traditions, including petroglyphs found in stone houses and caves. The park, encompassing 40 percent of the island, boasts hundreds of statues.

Before setting off to explore ancient ruins, it is worth exploring the location, booking accommodation, and renting a car. You can freely change your iPhone location to access more offers and better deals. If you choose VeePN for iPhone, you will be able to connect to servers in all countries from this list. This opens up the opportunity to book hotels and car rentals like a local.

3. Bagan

We explored the Temples of Bagan in Myanmar on hot days. For one day, we hired a horse cart, and for the next, a bicycle. One memorable detail is that our horse cart driver was expecting a child at any moment. It was a joyous time.

To reach the ruins, we boarded a ferry from Mandalay on the Irrawaddy River. This Buddhist complex, covering 16 square miles, was constructed in 1057. Time seems to pause in most of Burma, and this sensation is especially enhanced in Bagan. The locals ride past on ox carts, only a few pray at the temples, and monks roam the streets each morning to seek alms.

bagan 1028839 1280
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Similar to other ruins, ascending the highest temple, Thatbyinnyu Pahto, provides a breathtaking view of the entire complex. However, one of the most remarkable temples is Ananda Pahto, which houses four colossal Buddhas and two sacred Buddha footprints.

4. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, the renowned ancient Khmer Temple, stands as a testament to the grandeur of the past. Famously introduced to the world through the adventures of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, this majestic complex in Cambodia now attracts hordes of tourists. However, during our visit, we discovered hidden corners of the sprawling 500-acre site by taking a tuk-tuk and outpacing the tour buses.

angkor wat

The well-preserved main temple of Angkor Wat is an awe-inspiring sight, with its five towering spires reaching a height of 66 meters (215 ft) from its 1.6 km (1 mile) long base. One can also savor the breathtaking view of the entire complex and surrounding land from Bakheng Hill at sunset.

5. Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza, one of Earth’s most renowned archaeological sites, was formerly a thriving pre-Hispanic city on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Mayans built it in 600 AD, but it was abandoned in 1221 when Mayapan became the new capital.

3 day mexico itinerary chichen itza

Key features include the Temple of Kukulkan, a colossal stone pyramid with four stairways symbolizing a compass, boasting 365 steps representing each day of the year. The best time to visit is during the spring or fall equinox when the sun creates a captivating display of light on the pyramid’s stairs.

6. Heart of Neolithic Orkney

ZsRYw2RoMOyi4M59RHZDCXRQNCVyj1LAduXbbEE5 i6CRlFRqUMVeLmGG0o82CmwhZd63hrnn4BlB7UuR6091cRPAmm2mhsdfod AjK2QeeIt kRG5H8JeHU0iVPHZiQlqzFHImbkA8FiPv9RnBcqzg

The Orkney Islands in Scotland boast a wealth of ancient relics, providing a glimpse into life 5,000 years ago. Situated on the Mainland, the largest island of the archipelago, you’ll discover the Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe, Skara Brae, and the Ring of Brodgar. These four monuments, collectively known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, have remained remarkably well-preserved due to their remote location.

Skara Brae, often referred to as the “Scottish Pompeii,” offers a fascinating insight into the dwellings of the late Stone Age. Stenness, an early henge monument, bears resemblance to a contemporary art installation, while Maeshowe serves as a chambered mound tomb adorned with Viking graffiti. Notably, Brodgar’s stone circle still boasts 27 original megaliths that stand to this day.

7. Ayutthaya

Escape the vibrant chaos of Bangkok while you’re in Thailand and make your way to Ayutthaya, the historic capital that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ayutthaya presents a hauntingly beautiful city with captivating ruins, entangled temples, and reliquary towers.

The aging stones and bricks are brought to life by the vividly colored offerings. King Ramathibodi established this magnificent city in 1350, situated at the head of the Gulf of Siam. However, its reign came to an end when the Burmese army destroyed Ayutthaya in 1767, marking the downfall of the Siamese kingdom.


There are many remnants of ancient civilizations all over the world and it is mind-blowing. How monumental these creations were and how unique architectural objects of their time they turned out to be helps to think and be inspired.

**Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. When booking through one of our links, we earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running.

Related Posts