Ancient Sites

Machu Picchu, Peru

Embark on the journey back in time down the Inca trail to the city of Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 and abandoned 100 years later, Machu Picchu lay forgotten until 1911 when Hiram Bingham brought attention to this treasure and it was soon thereafter declared a world heritage site. It recently received a title change to be included as one of the New 7 Wonders of the world. The Machu Picchu ruins are 7970ft above sea level on a ridge in the Umbra Valley in Peru, meaning that altitude sickness can be problematic for some. The buildings are constructed in dry stone wall, and are created so flawlessly that in some places the stones are so well constructed that not even a knife can pass through the crevices. Current perspectives on history and prevalence of Machu Picchu indicate that it was a country resort for elite Incans, with no more then 700 people living their at one time.

Easter Island

The Tapati Festival of Easter Island is an experience that peers into a remote culture with traditions such as chanting, dancing, parades, customary body decoration, and spear fishing competitions, all originating from a civilization that was one of the youngest inhabited territories on earth. Easter Island also known as Rapa Nui, is a Polynesian island that lies off the coast of Chile, and is one of the worlds most isolated populated islands on earth. Theory has it, that at its peak, the Rapanui people found themselves trapped in an environment that was unable to sustain their population and a rapid crash in their civilization followed.

 Best known for its massive stone statues called Moai , Easter Island is home to over 887 of these world famous carvings, of which some 360 still span the island coasts, while others are now in museums or buried under shifted soil. The period in which these stone monoliths were created is still debated, with estimates of 100,00 CE to 170,00CE. What is know about these artifacts is they were created from volcanic tuff by hand and from there laboriously moved to various places on Easter Island. The design of the Moai statues share a fairly standard design and range in size from 23 feet high and 200 feet long, to some just 6 feet tall.

There are several sites on Easter Island to check out, one of the most popular is Rano Raraku which is at the base of the volcanic crater. What many people don’t know about these Moai statues is that this was not their intended resting place. Rather they were abandoned scattered about before being moved to traditional platforms called “ahu” where they would be placed to over look ceremonial areas and villages, with their backs to the sea. Another popular site is Ahu Akivi, which unlike other sites is found inland and features statues with red scoria headdress’s known as Pukao, carved from red lava rock.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Time ceases to move at Angkor Wat as you step out of modern civilization into an early 12th-century temple complex in the central Cambodian jungle. In fact, the jungle is actually growing in the Angkor Wat Temples—literally! Tree roots and branches are growing through, on top and inside the temples, making for a scene of culture and nature intertwined.

 It’s hard to explain a place that demands such attention based on its sheer size, and sustains your interest in a gripping search over the layers of detailed stone carvings. The Angkor Wat complex encompass over a hundred stone temples in total, and the Angkor Wat Temple is the largest and best preserved of these ruins. This enduring masterpiece was built initially for King Suryavarman II as the capital of the Khmer Empire. It has now the assumed image of Cambodia, and is the dedicated symbol to the Buddhist following. As one of the largest religious complexes in the world, Angkor Wat’s outer wall spans an impressive 3.6 km (2.2 miles) long, and encloses 203 acres of Khmer-style architecture. These walls also lay claim to the longest bas-relief sculptures in the world, with countless sprawling stories of Hindu mythologies. Angkor Wat is proudly honoured by Cambodians, and has been depicted in all of the Cambodian flags since 1863. As such, Angkor Wat Temple is the only building to ever appear on a national flag.

An Angkor Wat tour by tuk tuk allows you swift access to other temples, bringing you deeper into ageless obscurity. Many visitors begin their day at Angkor Thom crossing over a primitive bridge and under an impressive carved entry gate. Spanning over 9 km² Angkor Thom launches visitors off to its several temples and ruins with the Bayon Temple. The persistent carvings of King Jayavarman VII during meditation make the Bayon Temple feel almost familiar. With over 200 faces placed on top of all the temple’s towers in every direction, they were believed to ward off evil. Other interesting sites within Angkor Thom are the lines of elephants along the the Terrace of Elephants, as well as the Baphoun Temple.

Be sure to have your Angkor guide take you to Ta Prohm, as it has self-evidently emerged as one of Angkor’s best temples to visit. Ta Prohm’s popularity is drawn from is untouched nature. Unlike other temples in and around Angkor Siem Reap, at Ta Prohm has been infiltrated by the jungle not only within, but on top or and around it. It’s rugged nature makes you feel like a proper explorer, no matter how many others have gone before.

Petra, Jordan

Step back into a time of lost cities and mystical pasts when you visit Petra. This surreal city is housed in southwestern Jordan, in a valley amongst mountains that run from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Discovered in 1812 by a Swiss traveler, Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, Petra was later declared a World Heritage site in 1985. The history of Petra is somewhat ill-defined, passed from its original creators 6th century Nabataean Arabs , down through to Romans and later to Crusaders, it was eventually left to locals.

 The entry way to this amazing archeological site is a stretch of narrow gorge that is called a Siq, created by a natural geographical fault. This passage measures over a mile in length, towers over 600 feet high in some section and can be as narrow as 3 meters wide in places. As the Lost City of Petra gradually appears through the last corners of the Siq, a feeling of the purest and unmatched awe overcomes visitors lucky enough to grab this experience. Passed over by time, this city carved into the rock face is testament to a time of the silk trade, connecting routes that linked China and India with places like Egypt, Rome and Greece.

Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Some of the most remarkable achievements in human history stand in preservation on the Plateau of Giza, by Cairo in Egypt. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, built over 4,500 years ago, continues to astound the amazement of all who visit. The Pyramids of Giza are the most famous of ancient Egyptian monuments. This series of necropolises served the elite Royal Egyptians during the 4th Dynasty, approximately late 3rd millennium BCE.

 The most famous of these tombs is the Pyramid of Khufu. It is also known as the Great Pyramid (or the Pyramid of Cheops) and is the largest of the bunch. The next most prominent Great Pyramid is the Pyramid of Khafre; then followed by the modest-sized Pyramid of Menkaure. Khufu Pyramid was built by over 1,300,000 limestone blocks weighing from 2.5 to 15 ton. The four sides of this architectural masterpiece face the four cardinal points perfectly. In its original enormity, it measured 488 ft., but today (due to theft) it is only 455 ft.

How the Egyptians actually built the Pyramids with large stone blocks, and managed the extensive labour force to build them, is still largely unknown today. It’s widely believed that a majority of this labour force came from the farming community after the Nile River had flooded, rendering the farmland completely underwater. Many noted archeologists and engineers have offered some theories on this matter through demonstrating how heavy blocks of stone can be maneuvered and transported into place with special ramps and sledges.

Not all of the pyramids in Egypt have survived the years in a preserved state. There are just over a hundred pyramids known to still be recognizable as such in Egypt. Although the main understanding of the pyramid is as a mausoleum for deceased kings and queens of the time, they are also understood to be culturally significant to ancient Egyptian belief as stairways into heaven.




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