20 must-visit historical places in the world

Updated:
By David Em
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Throughout the world, there are incredible historical places that you need to see. Experience the cultures of people that came before you.

Acropolis of Athens, Greece

People walking towards Acropolis of Athens in Greece on a cloudy day.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Sitting above the city of Athens, Greece, the Acropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It’s been many things, including home to kings, citadel, myths, and religion.

Acropolis is open year-round and is located in a busy area. You can buy tickets online or at the entrance. The afternoons are normally the best times to go since it’s the least busy then.

Alhambra, Spain

Alhambra palace in Spain with mountains in the background.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Alhambra was originally constructed in 889 CE as a palace and fortress of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, Spain.

It’s the second most visited site in Europe and for a good reason. When you visit, block out several hours to experience the spectacular buildings and gardens.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

People entering the gate in front of Angkor Wat.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Angkor Wat is a temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It’s the largest religious monument in the world by land area, as it spans across 402 acres.

Originally, it was built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, and by the end of the 12th century, it became a Buddhist temple.

To visit, you’ll need an Angkor Pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket center. You can pay with cash or by credit card.

Bagan, Myanmar

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar.
Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Bagan is an ancient city in Myanmar. In 2019, UNESCO officially designated it as a World Heritage site. It’s made of 8 components with 3,595 recorded monuments.

Some of the temples are active places of worship. Therefore, if you want to visit, you must pay proper respect, which includes the removal of shoes, and wearing modest clothing.

One of the most popular ways to explore Bagan is to go on a hot-air balloon and see the astonishing aerial views.

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

Borobudur Temple in Indonesia on a cloudy day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Indonesia. It’s located in central Java and built with 3 tiers.

More than 500 statues of Buddha stand around Borobudur, and about 3,000 bas-relief sculptures. It’s an incredible sight.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza on a partly cloudy day.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Chichen Itza is a large step pyramid and sacred site that was one of the greatest Mayan centers of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Although it’s a tourist attraction, it’s still an archeological site where discoveries are still taking place.

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

Back of Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Christ the Redeemer is a massive 98-feet tall statue of Jesus Christ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It was completed in 1931 and stands at the summit of Mount Corcovado. To ensure you get to see the statue, book your tickets online.

Colosseum and Roman Forum, Italy

Inside the Colosseum in Rome.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

The Colosseum and Roman Forum are next to each other in Rome, Italy. The Colosseum is a massive stone amphitheater that could fit 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. It was built in 70 AD and was the largest amphitheater of its time.

Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which was built in 500 BC. It was the site for important religious, political, and social events.

Not only are they beautiful to look at, it’s also known for its history and age.

Easter Island, Chile

Three moai statues in Easter Island.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Easter Island is known for its stone statues, which are known as moai.

There are about 900 monumental statues that were created by inhabitants during the 13th to 16th centuries.

There are several places to stay on Easter Island, so you can spend a few days exploring it.

Ellora Caves, India

Stairway leading to Ellora Caves.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Ellora Caves is home to 34 monasteries and temples. It’s located near the village of Ellora, which is northwest of Aurangabad.

The caves are carved out of the mountainside, and it’s incredible to see it in-person. Each cave has a rich history, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Grand Canyon, United States of America

Grand Canyon National Park.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona, USA. The layers of red rock show millions of years of geological history.

Scientists believe that it formed when the Colorado River began to cut through layers of rock. It’s a natural wonder with a lot of history.

Great Wall of China, China

Great Wall of China during the Fall season.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

The Great Wall of China was originally built as a defense system against invasions from the north.

It began in 220 BC and continued to be built up to the Ming Dynasty, which ended in 1644.

To this day, it’s considered one of the most impressive and largest military structures in human history.

Hagia Sophia, Turkey

Hagia Sophia on a cloudy day.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Hagia Sophia is now officially known as Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. It was built in the 6th century as a cathedral, which was commissioned by the first Christian Roman emperor.

Then, it became a mosque, museum, and now, back to a mosque. The complex history and gorgeous design make it a place that you need to see at least once in your lifetime.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu with light rays shining behind it.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Machu Picchu sits more than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

It’s a 15th-century Incan citadel that’s known for being a religious, ceremonial, astronomical, and agricultural center.

When visiting, you must purchase tickets online or in-person. There’s also a separate ticket to climb the Huayna Picchu peak.

Persepolis, Iran

Architecture at Persepolis in Iran.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Persepolis was founded by Darius I in 518 BC and was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It’s located in southwestern Iran and attracts visitors from all around the world. All of the remains of Persepolis are authentic are there aren’t any modern reconstructions.

Petra, Jordan

Architecture in Petra, Jordan.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Petra is a historical and archaeological site in southwestern Jordan. The Nabataeans built Petra as a trading post, which led to the building of wealth.

The Greek Empire took notice and attacked the city in 312 B.C. However, the Nabataeans successfully fought back. You’ll need at least two days to explore Petra, as there are so much beauty and history.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Pyramids of Giza during the day.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

The Pyramids of Giza are a spectacular sight. They were built as royal tombs for three different pharaohs, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure.

It’s also one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. There are many unanswered questions about the construction of the Pyramids of Giza. However, they’re worth the visit.

Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Stonehenge during the day.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England that consists of standing stones that are about 13-feet high and 7-feet wide.

The stones stand in a circle and are considered the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world.

Taj Mahal, India

View of Taj Mahal from the reflecting pool.

The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum that was built in Agra and ordered in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife.

It was built over 20 years on the southern bank of the Yamuna River. It is simply a masterpiece that you need to see.

Tikal, Guatemala

Architecture of Tikal, Guatemala.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Tikal is a complex of Mayan ruins in the rainforests of northern Guatemala. Mayan civilization lived there from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.

The constructions, carved monuments have shown sophisticated technical, intellectual, and artistic achievements.

Conclusion

There are many historic sites around the world. It’s inspiring to know that there’s so much to discover. From the United States to Indonesia, get inspired to travel and see history.

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Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Travel, the destination for travel advice and inspiration. He launched Nola & Luna Travel to share expert advice, useful tips, unbiased reviews, and inspiration about destinations across the globe.