When planning your upcoming adventure, think outside the box and consider a journey to the past. The world is full of breathtaking ancient regions worth exploring. From the jaw-dropping beauty of the city of Petra to the stunning feats of man showcased by the pyramids of Egypt, there is no shortage of ancient sites calling your name. Be prepared to marvel at the world’s wonder when you book a trip to the Acropolis of Athens or the Lost City of the Incas in Peru. In these following ancient regions, embark on a getaway that will broaden your horizons.
Known as the cradle of Western civilization, Greece is full of history dating back thousands of years. The city of Athens, the heart of Ancient Greece, is home to numerous 5th-century B.C. landmarks. One of the most popular sites is the Acropolis of Athens, proudly overlooking the fascinating city. As you roam the archaic citadel, discover the remains of iconic architectural and historical structures essential to Greece’s history. Let Greek mythology come to life as you wander the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Temple of Athena Nike or the Parthenon, sitting majestically at the highest point of the acropolis. Afterward, feel the significance of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the city’s largest temple.
After you familiarize yourself with Athens, enjoy the best of both modern and ancient attractions in Corinth, considered the gateway to the Peloponnese Peninsula. Explore the remains of the Doric Temple of Apollo and witness the Ionian and Aegean Seas meet at the Corinth Canal. Planning a day trip? Make your way to Delphi, a religious sanctuary that was once believed to be the center of the world. Sitting along the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the site is notable for housing the Oracle of God Apollo, the most famous oracle of Ancient Greece.
If you want to get to know the western side of Peloponnese, take a trip to Olympia, where the first ancient Olympic Games took place to honor Zeus. Once considered a national shrine of the Greeks, the sanctuary houses treasured sites such as the Temple of Zeus, Temple of Hera and Ancient Stadium. After your time on the mainland, hop over to Rhodes, where you’ll find some of the finest well-preserved medieval history. The island is home to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. While the statue of Helios may not stand tall today, you can still visit the original site and let your imagination run wild. During your stay, be sure to stop by Kamiros, Acropolis of Lindos and Acropolis of Rhodes for more notable monuments.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens
Sheraton Rhodes Resort
For your next vacation, explore the long-vanished Old Kingdom of Egypt, famous for its enchanting sand dunes and millennia-old monuments. Known as one of Egypt’s biggest mysteries and most recognizable landmarks, the Giza Pyramids are the last surviving Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built as tombs for the powerful pharaohs, they have proven their lasting endurance for thousands of years now. After paying a visit to the wondrous memorials and the Great Sphinx of Giza, embark on a day trip to Sakkara and Dahshur, both home to what’s thought to be Egypt’s earliest pyramids. While visiting the necropolis of Sakkara, check out the oldest known Egyptian religious texts at the Pyramid of Unas or admire the formation of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the earliest major stone structure erected in the country.
In the royal necropolis of Dahshur, you can catch a glimpse of some of the oldest, largest and best-preserved pyramids in Egypt. The Bent Pyramid is known for being the first attempt at transitioning from the traditional step design. As you tour Red Pyramid, the first true smooth-sided pyramid ever built, you can enter the chamber where human remains have been uncovered. If you’re aching for more Egyptian adventure, take a worthwhile excursion to Karnak Temple Complex, Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings or the White Desert.
Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel
Marriott Mena House, Cairo
From the Spanish Steps to St. Peter’s Basilica, there are plenty of historical places to explore in the eternal city, truly proving that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most iconic symbol of the city, though, is the Colosseum, a must-see for your Roman holiday. The enduring structure was put to good use for gladiator fights, but today it’s known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. As you walk around the oval-shaped amphitheater, the largest ever built, you can hear the roar of 80,000 spectators. While there are no longer entertaining events there, it’s still just as exciting to wander.
Right next to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum was once the religious, political, social and business center of Rome. The forum sitting between Palatine Hill and Capitoline Hill was used for various functions, and today, you’ll find ruined temples, basilicas and arches. Palatine Hill is also notable for serving as the official residence for emperors and aristocrats for over 300 years. Afterward, be sure to visit Trajan’s Market to see how the Romans did their retail therapy. Considered to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, the complex stands as one of the most commanding ruins of Imperial Rome.
If you’re interested in Roman Empire architecture, the Pantheon, built as a temple to all gods, is a well-preserved marvel. Its large circular portico opens up to a rotunda, giving the dome another dimension of grandeur. Right next to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona was built for athletic competitions. The beautiful public square is complemented by fountains, restaurants and terraces, making it the perfect place to take in the charming atmosphere and enjoy street performances. Want to do as the Romans do? You can also check out Castel Sant’Angelo, Septimius Severus Arch, Baths of Caracalla or Via Appia Antica, housing the three most extensive catacombs in Rome.
Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection
Le Méridien Visconti Rome
Offering sun, sea, sand dunes and intriguing history, Jordan is the perfect destination to transport yourself back in time.
In Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, you’ll feel as if you’re walking with the ancients. The famous archeological site was carved entirely into pink sandstone cliffs, resulting in the nickname “Rose City.” Once you access the city through a narrow canyon, you’ll be surrounded by enchanting tombs and temples. Take your time exploring the remains of the Nabatean Empire, and before you leave, check out the most elaborate temple, Al-Khazneh, also known as The Treasury. Want a sneak peek of the towering structure? The temple can be spotted in the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
For more feelings of wonder, hike your way towards Ad Deir, or The Monastery, which stands tall in the hills northwest of Petra city center. After exploring the pink grandeur of Petra, check out Jerash, just north of the capital Amman. Alongside Jerash, you’ll find Gerasa of Antiquity, an ancient city boasting some of the most elegant Greco-Roman architecture in the world. You can walk the ruins in a few hours, admiring highlights such as Hadrian’s Arch, the Hippodrome, the Temple of Artemis and more. For extended getaways, dedicate a day or two for Qasr Bshir, Umm Qais, Qasr Amra and of course, the Dead Sea.
Petra Marriott Hotel
There’s no better way to experience Peru than immersing yourself in its pulsing history. Start by losing yourself in the Lost City of the Incas, Peru’s most famous destination. Located high in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is a mysterious Incan citadel that was forgotten until the early 20th century. It was built as a sacred site for the Incas to worship their gods, and today, it holds the title as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. After you soar to awe-inspiring sites, don’t forget to see what else Peru has to offer. A perfect starting point for your elevated adventures, Sacred Valley of the Incas is tucked away among sweeping foothills and charming villages. Formed by the Urubamba River, the valley was the hub of the Inca Empire.
While you’re in the neighborhood, walk along the steep mountain drops and ancient ruins of Pisac and admire the impressive Salt Mines of Maras. When you’re done wandering the Sacred Valley, journey towards Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. Towering over the city, you’ll discover Saqsaywaman, a fortress temple complex with structures dating back to the 1100s. At the time, the Inca Empire was able to fit stones so closely together that a single piece of paper will not fit between the boulders. Their ability to extend the structure remains an architectural wonder.
On northern Peru’s desert coast, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world. While once incredibly wealthy and the capital of the Chimú kingdom, the archeological site has changed since. Due to heavy rainfall, part of the city is protected from erosion, but you can still explore miles of the stone-built wonder. If you’re itching for more Peruvian beauty, make the most of your getaway by visiting Caral, Arequipa, Chavín de Huántar and Nazca Lines.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Courtyard Lima Miraflores
Located in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is home to dazzling landscapes, magical architecture and both Hindu and Buddhist customs. As you dive into the country’s rich culture, be sure to experience the captivating remains of the Khmer Empire. The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat was initially built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. While the site is just one of the hundreds of surviving structures, it enchants guests with its grand scale and incredible detail, telling stories of its past. Today, the complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensuring tourism will not compromise the temple’s longevity.
In the heart of Angkor Thom, also known as the Khmer Empire’s last capital, you’ll find Bayon, the state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist king Jayavarman VII. A more unique site to see, the temple’s 54 gothic towers are decorated with 216 enormous faces, all smiling down at its visitors. After your mind-bending visit to Bayon, live out your “Tomb Raider” dreams at Ta Prohm, another must-see. This atmospheric ruin has been swallowed by the jungle, combining the best of nature and architecture. While one of the smaller sites at Angkor, Banteay Srei makes a name for itself with its pinkish stone and intricate design. A fairytale-like treasure in the middle of the forest, the 10th-century Hindu temple’s Angkorian art cannot be missed.
After you get your fill of ancient ruins, stimulate your senses at Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. In the center of the busy city, Wat Langka stands as one of Phnom Penh’s oldest and most important temples. The colorful structure was initially built to store holy writings, and today, travelers can visit the temple and join the one-hour meditation sessions periodically held by monks. Looking for more Cambodian charm? Take an outing to Phnom Kulen, Koh Ker or Preah Vihear for more adventure.
Le Méridien Angkor
Courtyard Phnom Penh
While Cancún may be known for lively spring breaks and luxury resorts, the area has an ancient and intriguing past. Simply by taking a bus ride from Cancún, you’ll find yourself among the remains of the dominating Mayan Empire in Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The pre-Columbian city is still an active archeological site, providing new discoveries and insights into the Mayan culture today.
Known as the Observatory of Chichén Itzá, El Caracol proves both the Mayan’s architectural skills and understanding of the heavens. The monument’s crumbling viewing tower rises above the Yucatán jungle, offering the perfect spot for 360-degree views. It was designed specially to track the movement of Venus, and while you can’t climb it today, you can admire it from afar. Standing tall in the center of Chichén Itzá, El Castillo is the biggest pyramid in the ancient city. The Mesoamerican step pyramid was built over a preexisting temple and corresponded to the Mayan’s solar calendar. Much like El Caracol, the pyramid can’t be climbed due to rapid erosion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t savor its beauty from below.
One of the most impressive structures in Chichén Itzá, the Temple of the Warriors is made up of four platforms and is bordered by 200 columns in what’s called the Plaza of a Thousand Columns. With beautiful colors and carvings on some of the columns, you get a glimpse into how creative and artistic the Mayans were. Before you return to the sandy beaches, don’t forget to wander the Platform of the Skulls, Sacred Cenote or Red House Chichanchob, the largest and best-preserved of the four buildings surrounding the central plaza.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
Marriott Cancun Resort
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