In this mundane life we have been given, most of us have one ultimate goal – living life to the fullest and witnessing all the beauty our world offers. Of course, the natural beauty in many parts of our planet remains unparalleled. But there is also so much more than that. So much more that we can see and so many places we can be. Not so surprisingly, so many of them are artificial.
While some of the places talked about in this article have a defined history, there are others so old that their account is impossible to trace back accurately. There are undoubtedly extraordinarily accurate speculations, but after all, beliefs will remain mere logical judgments of times we have come so far from.
If you’re an architecture and history geek like me, this one’s for you!
1. Machu Picchu
Located in southern Peru on a mountain ridge almost 8000 ft above ground level, Machu Picchu is also called the “Lost City of Incas.” What’s astonishing is that this city has no written record of it while it was in use, as the Inca civilization had no written language. As you can assume, all our information on this is archaeological speculation based on physical evidence.
The Incas built this citadel around 1450, and a century later, during the Spanish conquest, it was inevitably abandoned. This civilization is said to have possessed the best masons. So the architecture of Machu Picchu is so remarkable that while the stones were attached without mortar, there isn’t even enough space for a knife blade to fit between them.
Each year, there are two times when the sun is precisely above the citadel, thus causing no shadow to be cast from the stones. The stunning architecture and the sheer size and qualities of one of the only surviving monuments from the Inca civilization will always have an undeniable pull on all those eager to explore and adventure.
2. The City of Petra, Jordan
Situated in southern Jordan, Petra was initially known to its people as Raqmu or Raqēmō. The city of Petra was an important trading hub in that region and was the capital city of the Nabateans – nomadic Arabs who occupied the area of southern Arabia.
Petra is one of the world’s most famed archaeological sites and is frequented by keen travelers, as the city demonstrates a stunning blend of two completely different types of architecture. It is half-built, and the other half is carved intricately into the stone.
This city is also called the “Rose City” due to the color of its stone and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. One of the major attractions to tourists everywhere is that Petra is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world, with its roots dating back to 312 BC.
3. Leshan Giant Buddha, China
Yet another structure with an uncertain timeline is the Leshan Giant Buddha – a 233 ft tall stone statue of Buddha. It is said to have been built during the rule of the Tang dynasty in China, which means that it could have been made any time between 713 and 803.
This statue is the tallest statue of Buddha in the world and is carved out of a cliff’s stone. Cut on the Xijuo Peak; this statue is built where three rivers converge. Earlier, the convergence of these rivers caused extensive turbulence in that part of the water and resulted in all ships in that area being wrecked. A Buddhist monk – Hai Tong – led the construction of this statue after convincing everyone that if it were built at that spot, its presence would calm the waters. To showcase his dedication and sincerity, Tong is also said to have gouged his own eyes out.
Completed 70 years after it was started, the statue now stands tall in the Sichuan province in China. It was also included in China’s list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Sites.
4. Hagia Sophia, Turkey
This stunning landmark is one of the most important cultural sites in Istanbul, Turkey. It is a mosque but was initially built as a Greek Orthodox Church, which was used from 360 to 1453. Till 1935, Hagia Sophia then served as a mosque, after which it became a museum. After a few long years, it became a mosque again in 2020.
With the rich history that built this structure, it isn’t surprising to know that the Hagia Sophia must have undergone and witnessed some severe events in that area. Today, none of the original structure remains.
Supposedly built in 360, the Church burnt down in 404 during riots. It was rebuilt for the third time in 537, and that structure stands as the mosque today. The Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving legacies of the Byzantine empire.
5. Sagrada Familia, Spain
The Sagrada Familia, also known popularly by enthusiasts as Gaudi’s Masterpiece, has been under construction for over a century now. This unfinished church in Barcelona was termed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. It is Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work and was, unfortunately, the only one out of the eight buildings that were left unfinished.
The church's construction began in 1882 under the supervision of another architect – Francisco de Paula del Villar. It was after he resigned that Gaudi took the reins and transformed the building with his much-applauded expertise.
The Sagrada Familia is set to be completed in 2026, but it still is one of the most magnificent buildings in Spain. It is a breathtaking site to visit and stands tall with its extravagant history and regardless of its ongoing construction.
Edited by Whitney Edna Ibe
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