1. Easter Island (Chile)
2. Machu Picchu (Peru)
Central America & Caribbean
3. Teotihuacan (Mexico)
5. Palenque (Mexico)
6. Château de Chambord (France)
7. Chartres Cathedral (France)
8. Pont du Gard (France)
9. Acropolis of Athens (Greece)
10. Archaeological Site of Delphi (Greece)
11. Epidaurus Theater (Greece)
The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidauros to construct civic monuments too: the huge theater that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances, the ceremonial Hestiatoreion (banqueting hall), baths and a palaestra. The theater was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. As is usual for Greek theaters (and as opposed to Roman ones), the view on a lush landscape behind the skene is an integral part of the theater itself and is not to be obscured. It seats up to 15,000 people.
12. Colosseum (Italy)
The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian’s reign (81–96). The name “Amphitheatrum Flavium” derives from both Vespasian’s and Titus’s family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia). Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. As well as the gladiatorial games, other public spectacles were held there, such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.
13. Grand Canal Of Venice (Italy)
The Grand Canal is a canal in Venice, Italy. It forms one of the major water-traffic corridors in the city. Public transport is provided by water buses and private water taxis, but many tourists visit it by gondola. At one end the canal leads into the lagoon near Santa Lucia railway station and the other end leads into Saint Mark Basin: in between it makes a large S-shape through the central districts (”sestieri”) of Venice. It is 3,800 m long, 30-90 m wide, with an average depth of five meters. The Grand Canal banks are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which date to 13th/18th century and demonstrate the welfare and art created by the Republic of Venice. The noble venetian families faced huge expenses to show off their richness in suitable palazzos: this contest reveals the citizens’ pride and the deep bond with the lagoon.
14. Pompeii (Italy)
Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompeii. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 20 meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with 2,571,725 visitors in 2007.
15. Piazza del Campo (Italy)
Piazza del Campo is the principal public space of the historic center of Siena, Tuscany, Italy and is one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its beauty and architectural integrity. The Palazzo Pubblico and its Torre del Mangia, as well as various palazzi signorili surround the shell-shaped piazza. At the northwest edge is the Fonte Gaia. The twice-per-year horse-race, Palio di Siena, is held around the edges of the piazza.
16. Hieronymites Monastery (Portugal)
The Hieronymites Monastery is located in the Belém district of Lisbon, Portugal. This magnificent monastery can be considered one of the most prominent monuments in Lisbon and is certainly one of the most successful achievements of the Manueline style (Portuguese late-Gothic). In 1983, it was classified by the UNESCO, with nearby Belém Tower, as a World Heritage Site. The house for the Hieronymite monks was built on the same site of the Ermida do Restelo, a hermitage that was founded by Henry the Navigator at about 1450. It was at this hermitage, that was already in disrepair, that Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before departing for India in 1497.
17. Alhambra (Spain)
The Alhambra, the complete form of which was Calat Alhambra, is a palace and fortress complex constructed during the mid 14th century by the Moorish rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus, occupying a hilly terrace on the southeastern border of the city of Granada, now in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Once the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada and their court, the site became a Christian palace. Within the Alhambra, the Palace of Charles V was erected by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1527. After being allowed to fall into disrepair, the Alhambra was “rediscovered” in the 19th century. It is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and exhibits the country’s most famous Islamic architecture, together with Christian 16th-century and later interventions in buildings and gardens.
18. Chillon Castle (Switzerland)
The Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon) is located on the shore of Lake Geneva in the municipality of Veytaux, at the eastern end of the lake, 3 km from Montreux, Switzerland. The castle consists of 100 independent buildings that were gradually connected to become the building as it stands now. The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1160 or 1005. From the mid 12th century, the castle was home to the Counts of Savoy, and it was greatly expanded in the 13th century by Pietro II. The Castle was never taken in a siege, but did change hands through treaties.
19. Stonehenge (United Kingdom)
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) west of Amesbury and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. It is at the centre of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Archaeologists had believed that the iconic stone monument was erected around 2500 BC, as described in the chronology below. One recent theory, however, has suggested that the first stones were not erected until 2400-2200 BC, whilst another suggests that bluestones may have been erected at the site as early as 3000 BC (see phase 1 below).
20. Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt)
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also called the Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt, and in a historical irony is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that survives substantially intact. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek) and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2551 BC. The Great Pyramid consists of more than 2.3 million limestone blocks (unless it was built on a substantial core of natural rock, which is possible). The Egyptians obtained the majority of the limestone blocks from a nearby quarry. The Tura limestone used for the casing was quarried across the river. The largest granite stones in the pyramid, found in the “King’s” chamber, weigh 25 to 80 tonnes and were transported more than 500 miles away from Aswan.
21. Abu Simbel (Egypt)
Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples in Nubia, southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Nubian Monuments”, which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan). The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors. However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary to avoid their being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River. Abu Simbel remains one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.
22. Karnak (Egypt)
The Karnak Temple Complex — usually called simply Karnak — comprises a vast conglomeration of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amen and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Amenhotep III (ca. 1391-1351 BC). It is located near Luxor, some 500 km south of Cairo, in Egypt. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (”The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak complex takes its name from the nearby (and partly surrounded) modern village of el-Karnak, some 2.5 km north of Luxor.
23. Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (Egypt)
The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is situated beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Designed by the architect Senemut, the mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II, which served both as an inspiration, and later, a quarry. It is considered one of the “incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt.”. Hatshepsut’s temple is considered the closest Egypt came to the Classical Architecture. It marks a turning point in the architecture of Ancient Egypt, which forsook the megalithic geometry of the Old Kingdom for a temple which allowed for active worship, requiring the presence of participants to create the majesty.
24. Leptis Magna (Libya)
Leptis Magna, also known as Lectis Magna (or Lepcis Magna as it is sometimes spelled), also called Lpqy or Neapolis, was a prominent city of the Roman Empire. Its ruins are located in Al Khums, Libya, 130 km east of Tripoli, on the coast where the Wadi Lebda meets the sea. The site is one of the most spectacular and unspoiled Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. The city appears to have been founded by Phoenician colonists sometime around 1100 BC, although it did not achieve prominence until Carthage became a major power in the Mediterranean Sea in the 4th century BC. It nominally remained part of Carthage’s dominions until the end of the Third Punic War in 146 BC and then became part of the Roman Republic, although from about 200 BC onward, it was for all intents and purposes an independent city.
25. Timbuktu (Mali)
Timbuktu (Timbuctoo) is a city in Tombouctou Region, in the West African nation of Mali. It was made prosperous by the tenth mansa of the Mali Empire, Mansa Musa. It is home to Sankore University and other madrasas, and was an intellectual and spiritual capital and centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahya, recall Timbuktu’s golden age. Although continuously restored, these monuments are today under threat from desertification.
26. Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation—first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors. Angkor Wat, is a unique combination of the temple mountain, the standard design for the empire’s state temples, the later plan of concentric galleries, and influences from Orissa and the Chola of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is a representation of Mount Meru, the home of the gods: the central quincunx of towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean. Access to the upper areas of the temple was progressively more exclusive, with the laity being admitted only to the lowest level.
27. Great Wall of China (China)
The Great Wall of China or is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire. Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built that were referred to as the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains; the majority of the existing wall were built during the Ming Dynasty.
28. Forbidden City (China)
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum’s former collection is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War. (based on a
29. Terracotta Army (China)
The Terracotta Army is the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China. The terracotta figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausouleum of the First Qin Emperor. The figures vary in height (183–195 cm - 6 ft–6 ft 5in), according to their role, the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits. Many archeologists believe that there are many pits still waiting to be discovered.
30. Hanging Temple of Hengshan (China)
The Hanging Temple is a temple built into a cliff ( 75m Above the ground ) near Mount Heng in the province of Shanxi. The closest city is Datong, 65 kilometers to the northwest. Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. Built more than 1,500 years ago, this temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it includes Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian elements.
31. Leshan Giant Buddha (China)
The Leshan Giant Buddha was built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). It is carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan. The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. It is the largest carved stone Buddha in the world and at the time of its construction was the tallest statue in the world. At 71 metres (233 feet) tall, the statue depicts a seated Maitreya Buddha with his hands resting on his knees. His shoulders are 28 metres wide and his smallest toenail is large enough to easily accommodate a seated person.
32. Taj Mahal (India)
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”
33. Harmandir Sahib (India)
Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib, informally referred to as The Golden Temple or Temple of God, is culturally the most significant place of worship of the Sikhs and one of the oldest Sikh gurdwaras. It is located in the city of Amritsar, which was established by Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth guru of the Sikhs, and is, also due to the shrine, known as Guru Di Nagri meaning city of the Guru. Originally built during AD 1574, the site of the temple was surrounded by a small lake in a thin forest. The third of the six grand Mughals, emperor Akbar, who visited the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das.
34. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple (India)
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord) and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi). The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities, that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built in 1600. The tallest temple tower is 51.9 metres (170 ft) high.
35. Borobudur (Indonesia)
Borobudur is a ninth-century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside perforated stupa. The monument is both a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The journey for pilgrims begins at the base of the monument and follows a path circumambulating the monument while ascending to the top through the three levels of Buddhist cosmology, namely Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). During the journey the monument guides the pilgrims through a system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the wall and the balustrades.
36. Kinkaku-ji (Japan)
Kinkaku-ji or formally Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the construction that represents the Kitayama Culture of Muromachi period. The original Kinkaku-ji was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, as part of his estate then known as Kitayama. It was his son, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi, who converted the building into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school.
37. Bagan (Myanmar)
Bagan, formerly Pagan, is an ancient city in the Mandalay Division of Burma (Myanmar). Formally titled Arimaddanapura or Arimaddana (the City of the Enemy Crusher) and also known as Tambadipa (the Land of Copper) or Tassadessa (the Parched Land), it was the ancient capital of several ancient kingdoms in Burma. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River, 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay. Bagan was submitted to become a UNESCO heritage site but many speculate of politics as partly the reason for the exclusion. UNESCO does not designate Bagan as a World Heritage Site. The main reason given is that the military junta (SPDC) has haphazardly restored ancient stupas, temples and buildings, ignoring original architectural styles and using modern materials which bear little or no resemblance to the original designs. The junta has also established a golf course, a paved highway, and built a 200-foot (61-m) watchtower in the southeastern suburb of Minnanthu.
38. Banaue Rice Terraces (Philippines)
The Banaue Rice Terraces are 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao in the Philippines by ancestors of the indigenous people. The Rice Terraces are commonly referred to by Filipinos as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is commonly thought that the terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe. The Banaue terraces are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, ancient sprawling man-made structures from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. They are found in the provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
39. Kremlin (Russia)
Kremlin is the Russian word for “fortress”, “citadel” or “castle” and refers to any major fortified central complex found in historic Russian cities. This word is often used to refer to the best-known one, the Moscow Kremlin, or metonymically to the government that is based there. Outside Russia, the name “Kremlin” is sometimes mistakenly thought of as being Saint Basil’s Cathedral because of its distinctive environment, although this is not a part of the Moscow Kremlin. The name Kremlin (or Kreml) has been allocated to various Soviet Navy vessels during construction. In each case, the name was changed prior to commissioning. Vessels which have briefly carried this name included Admiral Kuznetsov and Ulyanovsk.
40. Wat Phra Kaew (Thailand)
The Wat Phra Kaew (English Temple of the Emerald Buddha) full official name Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram, is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. It is located in the historic center of Bangkok (district Phra Nakhon), within the grounds of the Grand Palace. The construction of the temple started when King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I) moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785. Unlike other temples it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only the highly decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas.
41. Wat Arun (Thailand)
Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple (wat) in the Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The full name of the temple is Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan. The outstanding feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (Khmer-style tower). Begun in 1809, it may have been named “Temple of the Dawn” because the first light of morning reflects off the surface of the temple with a pearly iridescence. Steep steps lead up to two terraces. The height is reported by different sources as between 66.8 m and 86 m. The corners are surrounded by 4 smaller satellite prangs. The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.
42. Dome of the Rock (Israel)
The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine and major landmark located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It was completed in 691, making it the oldest existing Islamic building in the world. The site’s significance stems from the religious beliefs regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone in Judaism, at its heart. The Dome of the Rock is located at the visual center of a platform known as the Temple Mount, which Muslims refer to as the “Noble Sanctuary”. It was constructed over the site of the Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE. In 637 CE, Jerusalem was conquered by the Rashidun Caliphate army during the Islamic invasion of the Byzantine Empire.
43. Masada (Israel)
Masada is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the First Jewish-Roman War a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels, who preferred death to surrender. According to Josephus, a first-century Jewish Roman historian, Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. In 66 CE, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists called the Sicarii overcame the Roman garrison of Masada.
44. Petra (Jordan)
Petra, is a historic and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that has rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourism attraction. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and a World Heritage Site since 1985. Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die”.
45. Baalbek (Lebanon)
Baalbek is a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude 1,170 metres (3,800 ft), situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, known as Heliopolis was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire. It is Lebanon’s greatest Roman treasure, and it can be counted among the wonders of the ancient world. The largest and most noble Roman temples ever built, they are also among the best preserved. Towering high above the Beqaa plain, their monumental proportions proclaimed the power and wealth of Imperial Rome. The gods worshipped here, the Triad of Jupiter, Venus and Bacchus, were grafted onto the indigenous deities of Hadad, Atargatis and a young male god of fertility. Local influences are also seen in the planning and layout of the temples, which vary from the classic Roman design.
46. Damascus (Syria)
Damascus (commonly known as ash-Shām also known as the “City of Jasmin”) is the capital and largest city of Syria as well as one of the country’s 14 governorates. The Damascus Governorate is ruled by a governor appointed by the Minister of Interior. In addition to being widely known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. Damascus has a wealth of historical sites dating back to many different periods of the city’s history. Since the city has been built up with every passing occupation, it has become almost impossible to excavate all the ruins of Damascus that lie up to 8 feet (2.4 m) below the modern level. The Citadel of Damascus is located in the northwest corner of the Old City.
47. Palmyra (Syria)
Palmyra was in ancient times an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It has long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert and was known as the Bride of the Desert. The earliest documented reference to the city by its Semitic name Tadmor, Tadmur or Tudmur (which means “the town that repels” in Amorite and “the indomitable town” in Aramaic.) is recorded in Babylonian tablets found in Mari. Though the ancient site fell into disuse after the 16th century, it is still known as Tadmor in Arabic, and there is a newer town next to the ruins of the same name. The Palmyrenes constructed a series of large-scale monuments containing funerary art such as limestone slabs with human busts representing the deceased.
48. Hagia Sophia (Turkey)
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and to have “changed the history of architecture.” It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 A.D. on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site.
49. Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkey)
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultanahmet Camii) is a historical mosque in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey and the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923). The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction of Istanbul.
50. Library of Celsus (Turkey)
The library of Celsus, in Ephesus, Asia Minor (Anatolia, now Turkey), was built in honor of Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus (completed in 135 AD) by Celsus’ son, Gaius Julius Aquila (consul, 110 AD). Celsus had been consul in 92 AD, governor of Asia in 115 AD, and a wealthy and popular local citizen. The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a monumental tomb for Celsus. It was unusual to be buried within a library or even within city limits, so this was a special honor for Celsus. The building is important as one of few remaining examples of an ancient Roman-influenced library. It also shows that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself but throughout the Roman Empire.
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