Archaeology was one of my biggest passions since childhood. I’ve always been fascinated by ruins, touching the history and imagining how their life was in the past. That’s why I’m trying to visit archaeological sites whenever I’m traveling and to explore their history. Looking back at my best memories, I decided to make a list with 10 impressive archaeological sites that left a mark on my travels. I’m sure that I’ll rewrite a top when I’ll travel more the world but for now, I’ll present to you my best experiences visiting these archaeological complexes, cities, or temples.
#10. Segesta – Sicily
Segesta is one of the best conserved ancient cities in Sicily being situated near to Calatafimi in the province of Trapani, from where you can easily reach it by bus. Segesta was the main city of the Elymi, a people for whom Thucydides claimed a Trojan origin, an autochthonous population of Sicily who also founded Erice. However, it’s proved that the Greeks built the city’s temple between 430 and 420 BC. It’s amazing how strategically it was chosen the position of the temple that can be seen from far away. Up on top of a nearby hill, 400m above sea level is the ancient theatre, built around the same time. The wonderful surrounding panorama takes your breath away, the perfect scenery to imagine yourself through the auditorium of more than two thousand years ago.
#9. Colosseum – Rome
The Colosseum is the largest Roman amphitheater built during the Flavia Dynasty, started by Vespasian. It was inaugurated in 80 AD, being used for gladiator contests, executions, and animal hunts. Nowadays, Colosseum is considered the icon of Rome, and it is the most visited tourist attraction in Italy.
#8. Tower of David – Jerusalem
Tower of David or the Jerusalem Citadel is an ancient archaeological site located near the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. Besides all the historical disputes regarding the origin and the date of this archaeological asset, the Tower of David offers you a breathtaking 360-degree view of Jerusalem including the Old City and the New City, the Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, the Judean Desert, and the Dead Sea in the distance.
#7. Delphi – Phocis, Greece
Delphi is an ancient sanctuary where the high-priestess Pythia, of the Temple of Apollo, served as an oracle. Because she was consulted all the time about the most important decisions of the ancient world, the Greeks considered Delhi, the center of the world. It is located in upper central Greece, on multiple plateaux along the slope of Mount Parnassus, overlooking the Valley of Phocis. The archaeological complex of Delhi includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Theatre, The Stadium, the Treasuries, and different other ancient monuments. If you visit Athens, you can easily reach Delhi in an one day trip, enough to explore all the complex.
#6. Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary – Vietnam
One of the best cultural experiences in Vietnam was the visit to the Mỹ Sơn Sanctuary, translated from Vietnamese “Beautiful mountain”. You’ll have the chance to visit it from Hoi An or Da Nang by buying a bus tour with a guide or by yourself riding a motorbike, it will much cheaper. Constructed from the 4th to 13th century, the more than 70 temples-towers left in the heart of Mỹ Sơn Valley are typical examples of the Champa Hindu Civilization that once flourished on the central lands of Vietnam.
#.5. Pompeii – Italy
Pompeii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the dream destination of any archaeologist and one of the most impressive archaeological attractions of Italy. Once a wealthy and developed Roman city, Pompeii was buried under meters of ash and pumice after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Predominantly conserved under the ash, the uncovered city gave a unique view of Roman life, frozen at the moment it was covered by lava.
#4. Temple of Poseidon – Cape Sounion, Greece
The ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon at Sounion is one of the most impressive archaeological sites I visited because of its beautiful panorama. It was built during 444–440 BC, considered an important monument of classical Athens. Being dedicated to Poseidon, the God of sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses, the Doric temple is watching the sea at the end of Cape Sounion, at an altitude of almost 60 meters.
#3. The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens is definitely one of the most important archaeological sites of the Ancient World. It is located above the city of Athens, at a height of 150 meters above the sea and it includes the remnants of several ancient buildings, the most well known being the Parthenon and the Erechteion. The Acropolis is a result of cultural growth following the Golden Century of Athens, under the direction of the sculptor Pheidias that converted the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts.
#2. Herculaneum – Italy
As its neighbor Pompeii, Herculaneum is a roman city conserved more or less intact, after the eruption of Vesuvius. Unlike Pompeii, the mainly pyroclastic material that buried Herculaneum preserved more wood in objects such as roofs, beds, and doors, as well as other organic-based materials such as food and papyrus. One of the most impressive things about this archaeological discovery is related to the amazing wall-paintings that were so beautifully preserved until today. I was honestly mesmerized by the magic universe of Herculaneum that made me a witness of ancient history.
#1. Bagan – Myanmar
Bagan is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. During the richest period of the Pagan Kingdom, between the 11th and 13th centuries were built more than 4000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries in Bagan, of which the remnants of more than 3,800 temples and pagodas survived until today. It is for sure one of the most visited tourist attractions of Myanmar and one of the most spiritual places around the world. Walking around the Bagan temple made me feel the pulse of the ancient world. The energy and the vibe of this place will inspire you to cherish more the freedom of traveling.