Why travel? For history buffs, it is always ancient ruins, sacred wonders, and world-famous landmarks and the unique, appalling or quirky stories from the past! Some destinations are exceptionally rich in natural and human history, making them ideal destinations for history buffs — and we have curated a list just for you.
Known as the world’s largest religious monument, Angkor Wat — means "temple city" — encompassing an area of about 500 acres in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A stunning example of Khmer architecture, the Angkor Wat Temple dates back to the early 12th century. Constructed by King Suryavarman II as the state capital, the temple holds many unique carved bas reliefs, representing eight different Hindu stories and elaborate Hindu carvings of deities. The grandeur of this magnificent monument and the history behind it can easily make any history buff stand in awe.
For the history buff, a trip to Mexico means exploring Mayan ruins. In Cancun of Yucatan Peninsula, you will find the world-renowned ruins of Chichen Itza, a splendidly preserved Mayan city that was once a major economic and religious hub for the Mayans. The Mayans were one of the most mysterious and highly sophisticated long-lost civilizations around the world. Although the population is now long gone, the evidence of their sophistication survives. The El Castillo is a beautifully proportioned 80-foot-high pyramid that dominates Chichen Itza. One of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, El Castillo is another bucket-list-archaeological-monument not to be missed by any history buff.
Named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena, Athens was the heart of Ancient Greece and the birthplace of democracy. Also, Athens is the premiere site of Greek mythology. Here, you can trace the origins and stories of Greek immortals — like Zeus and Poseidon. As one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens is a historical site galore — the Parthenon, the Acropolis of Athens, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Temple of Athena Nike, and several other ancient sites — a dream-come-true-destination for history buffs.
Cairo, Egypt’s capital, sprawls at the edge of a vast desert, steeped in the remains of ancient Egypt and the inspiring civilizations that were responsible for modern day marvels such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, which will have you scratching your head over how they were constructed, or how the Egyptians made them so precisely, more than 3,000 years ago. For history buffs, Egypt is essential to the very story of humanity, of governments forming, religions flourishing, and agriculture developing. The region along the Nile River has been a settlement for various civilizations over the centuries, including Greeks, Arabs, Romans, and Babylonians, Egypt has witnessed 5,000 years of history — making it top on every history buffs’ bucket list.
Dubbed an open-air museum, due to the many historical sites able to be explored out in the open, Jordan is one of the safest countries to visit in the Middle East. The rose-red coloured city of Petra sits carved into a canyon in Arabah, Jordan, where, as the real story goes, was uncovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. Later in 1983, Petra was declared as a World Heritage Site and voted as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in 2007. Research has found that Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV, and likely existed in its prime from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40. The members of this civilization proved to be early experts in manipulating water technology, constructing intricate tunnels and water chambers, which helped create a pseudo-oasis.
England is a haven for history buffs. Situated close to Salisbury, the Neolithic monuments at Stonehenge have a thousand legends associated with them as researchers still don’t know how the builders of this structure got the stones all the way from Wales and have endeavoured to imitate the feat, with disappointing outcomes. While researchers are still not sure the exact purpose of these stones, they know for sure that Stonehenge evolved between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC and it is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices. Still, surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress history buffs.
Another “New Seven Wonders of the World”, Machu Picchu is a mysterious, well-hidden, and marvellous city in southern Peru, home to the once massive Incan empire. Construction began on the small, elite city in 1430 AD, later it was either hidden or missed by the Spanish conquistadors, and only to be rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Since then, thousands of visitors have taken the trip up the steep slopes to experience this stunning vantage point overlooking these ancient ruins.
The oft-quoted “five thousand years of Chinese history” of China is one of the richest and most well-documented histories in the world. What better way to learn about the home of paper, fireworks, and tea than by exploring the open-air museums of its capital — Beijing. Being one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world, Beijing is a must-see for every history buff. Step back in time and take a wander through the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China — three of Beijing’s best-preserved historical locations date back to the glorious Ming Dynasty.
With historical ruins dating back as far as the 8th millennium B.C., it comes as no surprise that Rome is on any list of top historical destinations for history buffs. Not only is this sprawling capital known as the cradle of Western Civilisation, but it is also home to some of the most incredible historic sites — such as the Colosseum, The Roman Forum, the early Christian Catacombs of San Callisto, Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, Villa dei Quintili, and the remains of Port of Ostia Antica. The eternal city is bound to enthral history buffs and the choices of historical wonders to discover are endless.
The Taj Mahal is not only India’s most famous and celebrated ancient structure, but it is also one of the most beautiful monuments that has gone down in history as a symbol of eternal love. Built during the reign of Shah Jahan, the monument is an iconic example of Mughal architecture and it never ceases to amaze travellers with its enigma and jaw-dropping beauty. Also, Agra, the city where Taj Mahal located, offers an abundance of historical architecture for history buffs. Remnants of the Mughal Dynasty and one-time Indian capital of Fatehpur Sikri still linger like ghosts in this thriving city.
If this list has awakened the history buff in you, plan your trip to these amazing destinations by getting your travel packages and air ticket at Mayflower.com.my! Also, follow Mayflower’s Facebook page for the latest travel deals!