30 of the world’s most impressive ruins and remains

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Visit the most beautiful relics and ruins of ancient times in this top 30 photo gallery!

Tandis que les structures modernes peuvent être plus impressionnantes d’un point de vue architectural, des prouesses technologiques utilisées et de leur beauté, les ouvrages du passé ont aussi leur mot à dire.

Ruins the world over have stood the test of time and still stand to amaze travelers. Technically, they haven’t completely stood the test of time, otherwise we wouldn’t call them ruins. Most of the methods used to build these ancient cities, temples and monuments remain quite mysterious, and building them today would still be considered an impressive feat.

Discover these 30 superb ancient ruins from around the world and visit them for yourself.

1. Machu Picchu, Peru

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Boris G

Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca site said to have been one of Emperor Pachacútec’s residences, was « discovered » by Hiram Bingham in 1911. A popular (and endangered) tourist attraction, Machu Picchu stands 2,438 metres above sea level.

2. Chichén Itzá, Mexico

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Ted Van Pelt

The pre-Columbian Maya city of Chichén Itzá is visited by over 1.2 million people a year (making it one of Mexico’s most visited archaeological sites). It is located not far from Cancún.

3. Stonehenge, England

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Kate Williams

Surrounded by hundreds of nearby burial mounds, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England. Archaeologists believe the site was built between 3000 and 2000 BC. Its name means « hanging stones ».

4. Ta Prohm temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Paolo Macorig

A temple featured in the film Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm was originally called Rājavihara. While most of Angkor’s temples have been extensively rebuilt, Ta Prohm remains largely in its original state. It was founded as a Mahāyāna Buddhist monastery and university. You can also visit the Angkor temples by bike.

5. Longmen Caves, China

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Jiang Jiang

More than 1,400 caves with over 100,000 statues make up the Longmen Caves, also known as the Dragon Gate Caves. Some of the statues are just 2.5 cm high, while the largest Buddha statue is 17.30 m tall.

6. Borobudur temple, Java, Indonesia

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Dennis Stauffer

The largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur consists of six square platforms with three circular platforms resting on top. 2,672 reliefs and 504 Buddha statues adorn the temple. The Borobudur temple is built from nearly 1,600,000 blocks of volcanic stone. It is a World Heritage Site.

7. Luxor Temple, Egypt

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Scott D. Haddow

Founded in 1400 BC, Luxor Temple is a sandstone temple located in present-day Luxor(Thebes in antiquity). Five other large temples can be found in the region. You can find these temples on a Nile cruise.

8. Hadrian’s Wall, England

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Jimmy McIntyre

Hadrian’s Wall was a fortification that marked the north of the Roman Empire in Britain. A large part of the wall is still visible, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The majority of the wall was built over six years.

9. Colosseum, Rome

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – I-Ta Tsai

Located in Rome, the Colosseum is also known as the « Flavian Amphitheatre ». The largest Roman amphitheatre in the world, it was built in concrete and stone between 70 and 80 AD. You can visit the Colosseum with an all-inclusive ticket.

10. Baalbek, Lebanon

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Debraj Ghosh

Home to some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Lebanon, Baalbek lies in the northern Bekaa plain. The city was called Heliopolis in Roman times.

11. Volubilis, Morocco

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Mark A Neal

A Roman city, partially excavated, founded in the 3rd century BC, Volubilis was originally a Phoenician colony. The city was abandoned around the 11th century when the seat of power in Morocco was transferred to Fez.

12. Bagan, Burma

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – opalpeterliu

Bagan was the capital of the Pagan kingdom from the 9th to the 13th century. Today, over 2,200 temples and pagodas can still be found here. At its peak, Bagan boasted over 10,000 Buddhist temples.

13. Mycenae, Greece

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – I-Ta Tsai

Mycenae, a Greek military fortress, is considered one of the most important sites in ancient Greece. The period of history from 1600 to 1100 BC is called Mycenaean, in reference to the city.

14. Gerasa, Jordan

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Jeremy Seto

Originally built in the time of Alexander the Great, the ancient city of Gerasa (or Jerash) was organized by a number of successive empires. In 749 AD, an earthquake destroyed much of the city. Subsequent wars and earthquakes accentuated its deterioration. The ruins remained buried until its discovery in 1806.

15. The Moai of Rano Raraku, Easter Island, Chile

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – anoldent

The ancient moai quarries on Easter Island are located on the slopes of Rano Raraku (volcano). The Rapanui people sculpted these human figures, or moai, between 1250 and 1500 AD. The largest moai weighs 82 tonnes, and the mere act of moving it is considered a more than impressive feat.

16. Tulum, Mexico

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Chris Lemanz

Tulum is another pre-Columbian Maya site, known as one of the last cities built by the Maya. The most famous and best-preserved buildings of this fortified city are El Castillo, the Temple of the Descending God, and the Temple of the Frescoes.

17. Tiwanaku, Bolivia

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Cata Bravo

Researchers consider Tiwanaku (also known as Tihuanaco) to be one of the most important pre-inca civilizations in this region. The empire of which Tiwanaku was the capital flourished from 300 to 1000 CE.

18. Teotihuacan, Mexico

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – José Luis Ruiz

The origins of this Mesoamerican city are unclear, but it is known to have possibly reached a population of over 150,000 at its peak. It is home not only to the Pyramids of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun, but also to residential complexes and the « Alley of the Dead ».

19. Palmyra, Syria

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – James Gordon

215 km northeast of Damascus, Palmyra was an ancient Aramaic city located in an oasis. The city’s most remarkable edifice is the Temple of Ba’al.

20. Cappadocia, Turkey

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Nick Wadge

Cappadocia was home to the Hittite Empire. Many of Cappadocia’s temples and houses were carved directly into the rock structures known as « fairy chimneys », visible in the photo above. The first mention of the name « Cappadocia » dates back to the end of the 6th century BC.

21. El Jem Amphitheatre, Tunisia

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Walid Mahfoudh

The El Jem amphitheater is one of the remains of the Roman city of Thysdrus, now known as El Jem. The amphitheater could accommodate 35,000 people. Several scenes from the film Gladiator were filmed here.

22. Wat Ratchaburana, Thailand

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Heiko S

A Buddhist temple located in the historic park of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, Wat Ratchaburana was founded in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II on the cremation site of his two elder brothers, who died in a duel for the succession to the throne.

23. Petra, Jordan

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Jimmy Álvarez

Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction, Petra is famous for its rock architecture. The city is also known as the « Pink City » because of the color of the rock from which it was carved. Pink City » because of the color of the rock from which it was carved.

24. Bath Spa, England

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Ignacio García

Built between A.D. 60 and 70, Bath’s Roman bath complex is extremely well preserved. Combined with the neo-classical Pump Room (where water is pumped for consumption), the site receives over 1 million visitors every year. Unfortunately, you can’t swim here.

25. Pompeii, Italy

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Francesco Minciotti

Pompeii, an ancient Roman city near present-day Naples, was destroyed and buried in ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Some 2.5 million people visit Pompeii every year.

26. Ellorâ, India

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Kunal Mukherjee

Ellorâ, an Indian archaeological site, is best known for its caves. There are 34 of them, excavated from a vertical wall in the Charanandri Hills.

27. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona, USA

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Steven Reynolds

These well-preserved troglodyte dwellings can be seen at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona. They were built by the Sinaguas Amerindian people.

28. Ephesus, Turkey

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Kunal Mukherjee

An ancient Greek city on the Ionian coast, Ephesus was most famous for its Temple of Artemis. The temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was largely destroyed in 268 AD by the Goths.

29. Ajantâ caves, India

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Kunal Mukherjee

Similar to the Ellorâ caves, the Ajantâ caves consist of some 30 Buddhist monuments carved into the rock. The area was covered in dense foliage until it was rediscovered by chance in 1819.

30. Cobá, Mexico

ruines et vestiges les plus impressionnants du monde

Flickr – Alejandro C

Not far from the ruins of Tulum, Cobá was a pre-Columbian Maya city. At its peak, it is thought to have numbered over 50,000 inhabitants. The highest pyramid on the site is 42 m high.

Have you visited these ancient relics? Would you add any more?