Show Us the World's Most Incredible Historic Ruins!

I’ve been to many wonderful ruins, all over the world, but I think the most stunning was Tikal, in Guatemala, which I saw in 1984.

It took a flight in a two motor “very old” plane to get there from Guatemala City. The area was in a jungle, and the biggest pyramid loomed over everything. Of course, I had to climb it. I was wearing sandals, as I couldn’t find any sneakers in Guatemala City that would fit me (I wear 8 1/2 AA, and the largest size they had was 6 W).

I climbed to the top straddling a chain and holding on for dear life. The steps were about 9 inches high and 4 inches deep. I understand that the steps were designed that way so that sacrificial victims could be rolled down to the bottom easily.

The view from the top was stunning! And I can still picture it.

But as difficult as the climb to the top was, the climb down was even more treacherous. I didn’t think I would make it, especially in those sandals. But I’m here to tell the story.

Incidentally, the pyramid was featured in “Star Wars.”


The amphitheatre in Pompeii, of history gone by.


That is an awesome story and great memory! Not too many people can say they scaled Tikal in sandals. Thanks for sharing!

More ancient than Stonehenge. Older than the Pyramids of Giza. It’s Hagar Qim, among the oldest 2006-Med-066-VALLETTA_MALTA-Hagar%20Qim%203 of structures. Mysterious? Yes, to us, as are the Pyramids and Stonehenge. But were they mysterious to the people who built them and hung out there? Contemplating all of this as you walk and explore and imagine is the best part of being there.


Thats something I think about all the time when viewing ancient ruins. Just imagining how much time was spent contemplating how one block should be cut and measured amazes me. Also, what things may have looked like during the heyday. Thanks for sharing !!


It’s hard to pick, but I think I’d have to go with Copán in Honduras. It’s not the most vertically impressive Mesoamerican site I’ve been to (that would have to be Tikal) and it doesn’t have the best setting (I’d vote for Palenque), but it has some of the most amazing carvings- detailed, baroque, and full of meaning. There’s even a stairway covered in Maya hieroglyphs. The site museum is off the charts- you enter by descending into a reproduction of a gateway into the underworld, and the centerpiece is a reproduction of a beautiful red temple they found buried under later works. Go early in the day and the morning squawks and flights of scarlet macaws in the jungle trees will make it even more magical.

Here are some photos I took in 2006:


Those colors are amazing looking, never seen one like that

1 Like

As far as I can tell, the Maya painted all their temples… it’s all just worn away over time. But they also built new temples on top of older ones… and some of the paint on the buried ones survived.


The coastal plain of South Carolina and Georgia along with a bit of North Carolina and Florida are one large ruins. They show the ruins of the Atlantic rice culture or the old rice kingdom.

This photo captures one canal on one plantation in one county of South Carolina. Enslaved people began building this canal around 1740 and it still works today for flooding and draining fields by taking advantage of freshwater tidal fluctuation.
Satellite images of the landscape are even more revealing of these complex dike and canal ruins all built by human hands and under the worst of conditions.


Persepolis (6th century BCE). Because after 2500 years, the life-like bas relief carvings still show detail as fine as a lion’s claws. Because the ruins point to the long, proud history of Persia/Iran. Because its construction was a marvel: six dozen columns, each 19m/62 ft high, to support the palace’s massive roof, which covered a 1000 sq. meter grand hall. (And that was just one of the buildings at the site.) Because it’s awe inspiring.


I’ve wanted to go here for absolutely ages just to check out the stelae and reliefs , I totally agree its the best of all the Mayan sites to see those things.


Not really when you consider America is less than 600 years old. In Europe they have buildings that are dated back to 1300. America wasn’t around then.

Jerash in the north of Jordan. It’s the most intact Roman city outside of Italy. And because of its location, it is also partly Greek, Byzantine and Nabatean. It was a crossroads and ancient artifacts from many cultures have been found there. We had the place mostly to ourselves when we were there.


No, we don’t. Look up Turkey: Catal Huyuk is about 9500 years old.
I personally dug at Gobekli Tepe also eastern Turkey, which is over 12,000 years old.
Older than god, so to speak.
See them here:


Some of my absolute favorite ancient sites that I have visited:

  • Hierapolis - Climb up the Pamukkale terraces to Hierapolis. There, you’ll find a gate to hell, amazing ampitheatre, a necropolis, and the possible tomb of Apostle Philip. It is stunning.

  • Cappadocia - There are amazing rock formations throughout the area. People have been carving homes and churches into them for a very long time. If you hike through the area, you’ll come across caves with ancient and modern paintings. There are also the nearby underground cities, as well as the stunning Goreme Open Air Museum.

  • Dun Beag Broch - It’s the only broch I’ve visited, but it is amazing to think of what this building could have looked like thousands of years ago. It’s a circular structure that may have been used for defense.

  • Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda - Lumping these together even though Vindolanda predates the wall. Vindolanda itself turns up amazing Roman finds, like boxing gloves, a toilet seat, and, of course, the Vindolanda Tablets. The site is still being excavated, and they always post amazing finds on social media.

The scale and organization of the wall is staggering. What’s even more mindblowing is that the vast majority (I think over 90%) of the wall remains unexcavated.

  • Mesa Verde - Absolutely staggering to visit and see where some Pueblo peoples lived. I am always in awe of how settlements like this were built. Like a lot of the ruins from indigenous settlements, they are fragile and haven’t been treated with the respect that they deserve.

Some that I still want to visit:

  • Çatalhöyük - a huge Neolithic compound in Turkey. I don’t believe there were doors, and all of the rooms in this huge city were interconnected.

  • Skara Brae - another Neolithic complex, this time in Orkney. The units even have built in shelves, where things like jewelry have been found.

  • Canyon of the Ancients - This area seems to contain such a diverse assortment of ruins, it must be spectacular.

  • Chogha Zanbil - The best preserved, most outstanding ziggurats in the world. A stunning remnant of the religious life of the Elamite empire, and a place I dream of visiting.

  • Behistun - A trilingual rock inscription that helped us to understand Old Persian, Babylonian, and Elamite.

I ended up listing way too many places, sorry. But I will add the visiting ruins in the UK is so easy thanks to the Ordnance Survey maps. Possible ruins are marked on their maps. If I saw something that looked interesting, I’d just open the map and it would tell me if it was something already noted, or if maybe I had been watching way too much Time Team.


Thanks for all of these! This is a great source of information for people to easily access. Thanks for sharing, truly appreciated :beers:

1 Like

I go to some events that feature a moment of silence at the start to acknowledge the local Ohlone tribe and its history in the area. Rare moments like those highlight the erasure of history and culture and people that’s occurred here in the U.S. and how their neglect continues.

To add a comment on the topic at hand, I just added several sites from this article to my bucket list:


Seeing all these amazing posts, I can’t help but think of what we’ve lost with the demise of these ancient civilizations. @penelopeashe mentioned Hagar Qim on the island of Malta but Gozo, the neighboring island, has a number of temples and ancient structures all over the island as well. What I found most striking, though, was not a structure at all, but rather the cart ruts engraved in the stone on the edge of the island. It’s said that the ruts extend in the stone below the water. Gozo's ancient Ggantija temples are older than the Pyramids | Maltaeasy


Same! That was some of the thought that went behind this post, a collection of what the world once looked like and what was lost. :fist:

1 Like

When wandering the Italian countryside, we randomly came upon the ruins of the Latin town of Norba, which was destroyed in 82 BCE by Lucius Cornelius Sulla when he marched on Rome.