Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far

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 Best Ruins That I Have Visited So Far.

“The shattered wall,
the broken tower
have a story to tell –
from the touchstones of ruins
and ancient texts
we make a pilgrimage.” Michael Alexander,

Architectural ruins connect us to the past and bring history alive. There is something about visiting the sites of these ancient civilizations that fascinates me. You can see the potential that people all over the world and thousands of years ago had for greatness. Some of these amazing structures were built long before all the machinery, transport and communication tools that we have now. 

 Peru, Machu Picchu

The purpose of Machu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site.  The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu (it takes four days  of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow-capped mountains because that is what they worshipped .How they transported all that granite up there  remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried  it on site. No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze.  There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake-proof constructions.

 Chile, Easter Island, Rapa Nui Park

Who carved such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms? The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions. Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes .In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Turkey, Cappodocia

The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions  years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities. Goreme Open Air Museum is a group of cave churches and monasteries from the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The most famous and most restored one is Karanlik Killse (Dark Church) which is filled with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Early Christians escaping from Roman persecution found shelter in Cappadocia.

Turkey, Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus was built in the tenth century. It was a large city (over 250,000 inhabitants in the first century BC) and a major port for trade routes into Asia Minor. Ephesus was known in antiquity for its sacred shrines, the most famous being the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (only foundations and sculptural fragments remain). Ephesus came under Roman control in 129 BC, and continued to prosper under Emperor Augustus as capital of the Roman province of Asia. It was also an important centre of early Christianity and its greatest Christian monument was the 4th century church of St. John the Evangelist.

 Turkey, Pergamon

Pergamon was one of the key Roman cities of Anatolia and the well-preserved remains hint at the grand spectacle that the city was during its glory days. Excavations reach back to the second century B.C. It  has one of the largest libraries in the world and one of the steepest theatres.

Cambodia, Ta Prohm 

Yes,Ta Prohm is the temple where Angelina Jolie played Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Ta Promh has been left the way it was originally found.  It was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The jungle had completely engulfed the entire complex when it was discovered in the last century. It was amazing to see how the massive trees have grown around and atop the structures, their roots seemingly strangling and holding up the temple’s towers and other buildings.

Cambodia, Angor Wat

Angor Wat is the largest temple in the world and the world’s largest religious building constructed of stone. It is often described as one of the most extraordinary architectural creations ever built, with its intricate bas-reliefs, strange acoustics and magnificent soaring towers. It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century. Angkor Wat was shifted from Hindu to Buddhist use sometime around the late 13th century. The temple is still used by Buddhists today. It is architecturally and artistically breathtaking. No photograph can capture the immensity of this monument.

Jordan, Petra

 Petra is a city of rose-colored stone, carved out of rock by the Nabateans in the third century BC. Like Macchu Picchu, there isn’t a lot of information known about it. It is one of the dryest places on earth and how they got water for the thirty thousand people who lived here is a mystery. Stephen Spielberg brought it to us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

Thailand, Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was the old capital of the Thai kingdom from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century.  The site resembles a  graveyard of temples,  headless Buddhas (beheaded by the Burmese in the thirteenth century) and ruins showing what it might have looked like.

Myanmar, Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan kingdom. During the kingdom’s height between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

Mexico, Tulum

The ancient walled city perched on the edge of a cliff in Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean was a major trading and religious centre between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. Tulum was built to be a seaport fortress, with steep ocean cliffs providing protection from the East, and a large limestone wall enclosing the rest of the city on three sides. 

Acropolis, Greece

The Acropolis looms over Athens, and is impossible not to recognize.This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the fifth century, Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike. The Parthenon temple was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war who planted the first olive tree on this very spot to found the city of Athens.

Italy, Colosseum

The Colosseum has been regarded as an iconic symbol of Rome since the Middle Ages.  Built in eighty A.D, it is a massive structure and is the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire. Being able to seat close to 50,000 spectators, it was the premier venue for wild beast shows and bloody gladiator combat.

Italy, Forum

Once the centre of public and political life in Ancient Rome, the Forum is a sprawling labyrinth of ancient ruins, including the Temple of Saturn, the Arch of Titus and the House of the Vestals. You’re standing in the very center of the ancient city, surrounded by the remains of famous temples and political buildings. The people of Rome saw the funeral of Julius Caesar here, along with the execution of Cicero and countless triumphal processions.

 Italy, Pantheon

The Pantheon was built as a temple dedicated to the worship of  Roman gods. In 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV and Emperor Phocas converted it into the Christian church we see today. The Pantheon is considered a rotunda, a circular drum structure. Perfect mathematically, the Pantheon’s dome has an opening in the center.  In fact, the Pantheon in Rome still holds the world record for having the largest unsupported concrete dome.

Croatia, Diocletians Palace 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the fourth century as a retirement seaside residence for the Roman Emperor, his family and seven hundred or so servants and guards in Split. The rectangular structure (520 x 620 feet) was two stories, fronted the sea and was built more like a fort than a palace. It is the most complete Roman ruins of a palace in existence today. It is not a museum .Three thousand people live and work on the grounds and there are many shops and restaurants. It is best seen when not besieged  by cruise ships.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Seven Wonders Of The World

Seven Wonders Of The  Ancient World

“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million,”

Walt Streightiff

I’ve seen two of  the Seven Wonders of the World – the Temple of Artemis  at Ephesus and the Colossus of Rhodes. I hope to see them all one day.  Most of these wonders of ancient civilizations are not  there anymore. – except the Pyramid of Giza.

The list of the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World that we use today was put together in 200 BC. by a Greek Historian names Antipatros who wanted to commemorate the achievements of the ancient world. He picked them for many reasons . They were chosen  for grandeur and prestige. They were well-known unique constructions  at that time. They stood unequaled in size, design and craftsmanship.  He chose them for the vision and the purpose that inspired them. This was important to the Greeks. Did it serve as a tomb? Was its purpose to bring beauty into the world? Was it a monument to an ancient religion that no longer exists?

Completed around 550 B.C. to honor the Greek goddess of hunting and nature, the Temple of Artemis was built during the Achaemenid Dynasty of the Persian Empire. Arson destroyed the temple in 356 B.C. The ancient author and philosopher Pliny described the temple as being 377 feet long and 180 feet wide (about 3 times the size of the Parthenon), with 127 Ionic columns measuring 60 feet high, and made solely of marble. Used as both a marketplace and a place of worship, the temple housed many works of art and sculpture. There is one column from the Temple of Artemis on site and the rest are in the British Museum in London.

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The Colossus of Rhodes was actually an enormous, looming 100-foot tall statue of the Greek god Helios, built on the island of Rhodes, Greece around 280 B.C. The statue was erected to commemorate the island’s patron god Helios.

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The Great Pyramid is the largest of the 3 pyramids built in the ancient city of Giza, now part of greater Cairo, Egypt. The pyramid is believed to have been built around 2560 B.C. as a tomb for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, and likely took 20 years to build. (Egyptologists argue over man-power numbers, and estimates have ranged from 14,000 to 360,000 men). When built, the pyramid measured nearly 480 feet high, with the sides each measuring about 755 feet long. In addition, each side is oriented with one of the cardinal points (north, south, east and west). Nearly 2.3 million blocks of stone, each weighing about 2 tons, form the pyramid. The pyramid remained the world’s tallest building for 4 millennia after it was built .

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The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have been built by Nebuchadnezzar II, a ruler of Babylon, around 600 B.C. Though historians often debate the real existence of the gardens, because there’s no physical evidence and Babylonian documents never mention them (Greek scholars first described the gardens), accounts state that the gardens consisted of vaulted terraces raised above one another and supported on pillars – an artificial rising mountain of gardens. The amazement over the gardens stems from what would have been an extraordinarily complicated irrigation system, which brought water from the Euphrates to the gardens in an otherwise arid environment. The gardens are thought to have been destroyed by an earthquake around the first century B.C.

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This enormous statue honoring the God Zeus was built at the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece around 450 B.C. Designed by the Greek sculptor Pheidias, the statue of a seated Zeus measured 40 feet tall and was carved from ivory with gold-plated accents.

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Scholars estimate the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt measured between 383 and 450 feet high and was built in the third century B.C. to act as a landmark for Pharos, a small island off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt. The lighthouse’s tower was built using light-colored stone.  At its highest point, a mirror was placed to reflect sunlight during the day and at night a fire burned to give off light. Some historians believe that the light given off could be seen for some 35 miles. The lighthouse was damaged by 2 earthquakes in 1303 and 1323, and its remains were destroyed in 1480, when a fort was built on the site.

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The tomb built to hold the remains of the Persian King Mausollos and his wife, Artemisia, was designed by the Greek architects Satyrus and Pythius and constructed around 353 B.C. on a hill overlooking the ancient city of Halicarnassus in Western Turkey. The tomb stood 135 feet high, and its exterior was surrounded by an ornamental frieze. Numerous statues, bas-reliefs and columns decorated the exterior of the ornate and enormous tomb, and eventually the term “mausoleum” became used to describe any large and impressive tomb. Multiple earthquakes ultimately led to the destruction of the tomb in the 14th century.

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Why do we go to these places?  I have been to a lot of ancient ruins in my life.   When I look at a Greek column or a broken one, I see a civilization that gave us philosophy, science, art, economy, logic and democracy.  It isn’t so much what I see but what I feel standing in the depth of history. I look at the ancient stones and wonder  if they knew that what they were doing was so important? Probably not. They were just living their lives, going to the Agora,  starting a war with someone over something that seems very important at the time, falling  in love, fighting with their friends, going to work and taking care of their families and pets. Maybe it just emphasizes the human connection to the past.  There are always stray animals at ruins. I like to think they have the souls of the people who lived there.

As I write this I am trying to organize my photos from all the ruins I have seen in Turkey.  I know where they come from but I didn’t take good notes about what they actually are.  It didn’t matter to me. I just cared that I was there.  I stood where they stood. Maybe I was standing where Aristotle, Homer, Heraclitus or Helen of Troy stood. Did a girl who’s heart was broken, or a man who had miraculously made it back from a bad war stand on these steps?  I always make these stories up in my head when I am standing there trying to listen to why this column or pile of stones is important.    Since we aren’t leaving much  stone,  what will they find from us?

Fly Safe,

JAZ