Our World Top-10 List: Ancient Ruins

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This list is our own personal top ten based on what we have seen and experienced in our travels around the world, mostly from our trip in 2005.

1. Khajuraho, India

Khajuraho Ruins India

The Khajuraho temples are famous for their erotic sculptures but equally impressive are the setting, the architecture, and the well-preserved condition of the temples. There is a myriad of sculptured scenes covering the temple walls – depicting everything from armies fighting to everyday activities, including some done in private.

2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Ankor Wat in Cambodia

We hired some bicycles and rode the 6 km out to Angkor Wat. From there it was a long slog of 26 km looping around the main attractions. First and foremost was the most important Angkor Wat – the largest religious structure in the world. It has amazing bas relief carvings surrounding the exterior of the building. The sheer size of the area was phenomenal – Angkor Wat is just one of the hundreds of temples and buildings in different states of ruin – some still overgrown with trees.

3. Karnak Temples, Luxor Egypt

Karnak Temples

Just north of the town of Luxor, on the River Nile, is these large Egyptian ruins.

4. Palenque ruins, Mexico

Palenque ruins, Mexico

The Mayan ruins in Palenque were quite different from the others we have seen in Central America, large buildings with an amazing underground tunnel network.

5. Pomepii, Italy

Pompeii Ruins Italy

Pompeii is the ruins of a huge ancient Roman city, and in good condition too due to the fact that it was covered with ash after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD and preserved just the way it was. As many of the streets, buildings, and murals are in such good condition you can sense how a Roman town may have functioned.

6. Ephesus, Selçuk, Turkey

Ephesus Selchuk

We stacked up on food supplies then walked 3-km from Selcuk to the ruined city of Ephesus, a huge well preserved Roman city. You could get a real feel for what it may have been like to live in this Roman city a couple of thousand years

7. Badami, India

Badami, India

The town of Badami is set around a lake and under rocky cliffs. Into the cliff faces are carved some beautiful old temples.

8. Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal Ruins Guatemala

We took the 5.30 am shuttle from El Remate to the Mayan ruins in Tikal, just in time for us to have breakfast and enter the park at 7 am. At this time there are only a few other tourists, and more wildlife to see. Tikal is famous for its towering temples set amongst the jungle. It was extremely hot, and we seemed to be buying drinks continually to stay hydrated. We also felt obliged to climb every temple steps, but all gave fantastic views.

9. Hampi, India

Hampi, India

The quiet small town of Hampi in central India was once a large ancient city ruling much of southern India. From the town we walked a couple of km along a shady road to the main ruin complex, an ancient city was located here before being destroyed and lost to the jungle. There are many nice carvings and temples to see, and also old elephant stables.

10. Goreme Outdoor Museum, Turkey

Goreme Outdoor Museum, Turkey

The rock churches near Goreme in Turkey have been preserved as an outdoor museum. The churches and other buildings are carved out of the soft rocks of this region. The churches have fantastic painted frescoes, dating from the 11th century.


* missing out on the top 10 are: Fatehpur Sikri India, Copan Honduras, Bath UK, Egypt Valley of the Kings, Great Pyramids Cairo Egypt, underground cities in Turkey, Tulum Mexico, Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka, Pompei, Roman Forum, Tikal Guatemala.

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