12 of the world’s most beautiful ancient ruins

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 7 November 2017

How old can ‘old’ really be? Ancient ruins reveal much about ancient culture and these incredible sites have been preserved since their conception.

Visit the monuments that still stand today and see what life was like in a place that ceased to exist years ago. These are some of the world’s most beautiful ancient ruins.


1.Temple of Confucius, China

Location: Qufu City

Confucius’ teachings influenced many in Asia. Image by Ivan Herman.

The end of September this year marked the 2568th anniversary since the birth of the Confucius – the Chinese educator, philosopher and educator. A grand ceremony took place in his honour and the majestic Temple of Confucius named after the Chinese leader was built in 1302. It’s one of the most renowned temples and the second largest temple in China. An emblem of the rich Asian history and culture, the temple has nine courtyards offering a tranquil environment to appreciate the stillness as you learn about the Asian history.


2. Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali

Location: Djenné, Mopti



The community replasters the mosque every Spring. Image by Romel Jacinto

The famous landmark in Africa was only declared a Heritage Site in 1988. The mosque used to be the meeting place for traders from Sudan and Guniea in 800AD. The Great Mosque of Djenne is a mosque and occasionally becomes a market. The city is also affectionately known as the City of Mud and is built from a mixture of straw, clay and oil. It remains a prominent symbol of the city and the nation of Mali.


3. Prambanan Temple, Indonesia

Location: Yogyakarta

The black and grey spires from the temple are seen from a distance. Image by Peter Nijenhuis.

The Prambanan Temple was built in the 9th century AD. The temple is 47 metres high and is the largest temple dedicated to Shiva, who was one of three Hindu gods. The beautifully carved temple can be seen from a great distance and is surrounded by green fields and a few villages.


4. Ajanta Caves, India

Location: Aurangabad

India has an artistic influence too. Image by Shashi Agarwai.

The Ajanta Caves is the oldest UNESCO Heritage in India, which are over 2000 years old. These caves are home to magnificent masterpiece of Indian art. It is believed that Buddhist monks spent their time in the caves during monsoons. While they were waiting for the monsoons to end, they painted the caves.


5. Roman Baths, Rome

Location: Rome

What better place to catch up on gossip than in a bath. Image by Alister Babb.

Roman Baths were a day-to-day life in ancient Rome and were useful for social and community gatherings.The local complex was a gathering point where everyone would chat and relax. Folk in the ancient Roman times could choose between a cold, warm or hot bath. Many would indulge in all three. There are baths that remain in the old sites, but are not in operation anymore.


6. Husuni Kubwa Palace, Tanzania

Location: Kilwa Kisiwani

The East African Coast was home to trading towns in the 14th century. The Husuni Kubwa Palace was built by Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sualiman who was referred to as ‘the father of gifts’. He made the palace from jagged blocks of coral stone. Kilwa Kisiwani was a wealthy port for trading between Africa, Arabia, China and India.


7. Bagan Temples, Myanmar

Location: Central Burma

More than 10 000 temples are built in the ancient city of Burma. Image by Jim Driscoll.

The Bagan Temples are in the ancient city of Burma. These temples were built between the 11th and 13th century. The Kings all wanted to leave a legacy for the future generation by creating the monuments. The are more than 10 000 Bagan Temples that have various architectural styles. The Bagan architectural zone is on the UNESCO Heritage Site list.


8. Luxor Temple, Egypt

Location: Luxor City

Based on the east side of the Nile River is the Luxor temple. Image by Pnp.

The ancient Luxor temples are on the east side of the Nile River. The temples were constructed in 1400 BC in the Thebes and are made from sandstone blocks. The temple is one of the best preserved ancient monuments in the world. The entrance of the monument is known as the first pylon. The statues seated at the entrance, are of the Ramesses II. Ramesses was a pharaoh of the Dynasty of Egypt.


9. Baalbek: Temple of Baachus, Lebanon

Location: Lebanon

The temple is part of Baalbek’s medieval fortification. Image by Caroline Milton.

The temple of Baachus is one of the grandest Roman temples ruins ever built. The temple is dedicated to the Roman wine god, Baachus. The building was constructed in 150 AD to 250 AD. Tourism has become a large part of the economy in Baalbek. An annual Baalbek International Festival takes here.


10. Chichen Itza, Mexico

Location: Yucatan

Mexico’s most visited archaeological site. Image by Vasenka Photography.

The Chichen Itza is Mexico’s most visited archaeological site. The Mayan ruin is an enormous pyramid made from stone dating back as early as 250 AD. The pyramid was originally built around a limestone sinkhole and is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. The name Chichen Itza means “the mouth of the well of Itza”.


11. Longmen Grottoes, China

Location: Luoyang

Natural architecture is beautiful. Image by Kevin Poh.

The largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art is based in the Longmen Grottoes, also known as the Longmen Caves. The caves are made out of lime stone. The carving for the caves began in 492 AD and continued for 500 years. There are now 1350 caves to visit with a number of statues inside, all accessible to the public.


12. Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

Location: Siem Reap

Ta Prohm was one of the sets for the movie ‘The Tomb Raider’. Image by Dennis Jarvis.

The original name for Ta Prohm was Rajavihara which means ‘The King’s Ministry’. Originally the temple was built in 1186 and used as a Buddhist Monastery and learning centre. It is one of three most popular attractions in Siem Reap. This is where the movie The Tomb Raider with actress Angelina Jolie was filmed.


What temples have you visited that are not on the list? Comment in the box below and share with us.

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