All ancient sites offer a fascinating glimpse into how a past civilization once lived. Certain places in particular leave travelers wondering about the secrets they hold. Here, we take a look at the history behind some of the world’s most mysterious sites.
Stonehenge in England
Built thousands of years ago, this stone monument is a perfect example of prehistoric architecture. There are many origin theories behind these puzzling monoliths, which stand up to 30 feet high at certain points. One common belief is that their circular arrangement, which allows sunlight to shine through during sunrise on the winter and summer solstice, represented a type of calendar system for counting days.
Loch Ness in Scotland
Few sites are as shrouded in mystery as this legendary lake in the Scottish Highlands. Since the first alleged sighting of a monster in the year 565, rumors of a strange creature lurking in the depths of the lake have continued to spread. Nessie makes headlines whenever someone thinks they’ve spotted or captured a photo of her. Despite many years of research and observation at Loch Ness, no definitive proof that a monster exists has been found—do you think she’s real?
Tikal Ruins in Guatemala
From the 6th century B.C. through the 10th century A.D., this archaeological site in northern Guatemala was a powerful center of the ancient Mayan civilization. Protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, these vast ruins lie within a diverse tropical rainforest region. Monuments including pyramids, temples and residences retain complex hieroglyphics, which are still being deciphered today to reveal the history of the city and its people. Large areas of the ruins have yet to be excavated, and may hold clues into the sudden fall of the Mayans, the cause of which is still widely unknown.
The Nazca Lines in Peru
As you fly high over the desert in southern Peru, you’ll see a series of lines in the landscape below creating swirls, shapes, symbols and even animals. These mysterious Nazca Lines, called geoglyphs, were created when rocks and other materials were removed from the ground. Without much erosion from the elements, these lines have stayed remarkably well preserved. While the lines have been the subject of many theories—from the wild (aliens?) to the functional (astronomical purposes?)—one popular belief is that they were used as part of rituals to ask gods for fertility and water.
The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
These colossal pyramids on the banks of the Nile River were constructed to house the spirits of the pharoahs that ruled ancient Egypt. The Great Pyramid, a Wonder of the Ancient World, was built as a tomb for Khufu, who ruled from 2589 to 2566 B.C. during the fourth dynasty. Inside the pyramid is a fascinating web of passageways and chambers that surround the pharoah’s burial place, which archeologists have explored to discover more about the ancient society’s belief in the afterlife. Methods used to build these manmade structures required thousands of laborers to cut, move and assemble massive blocks of stones. Along with the others in the complex, the Great Pyramid is still considered one of the world’s greatest engineering masterpieces.
Have you seen any of these mysterious sites on your travels?