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World's most extraordinary ancient structures

Ever wondered how did ancient civilisation with such primitive tools managed to construct extraordinary structures like the Stonehenge or the Pyramids? From feats of human engineering to downright miraculous, here are 10 of the most amazing historical sites in the world with the most remarkable stories behind them.

Tikal, Guatemala This Mayan city-state is one of the largest and best preserved ruins of the civilisation. Native stories and legends have told over the decades that Tikal is shrouded in strange mystical mysteries and excavation has showed that it was abruptly abandoned by the Mayans over 1000 years ago with no visible evidence as to why.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia This legendary ancient city was built by the Khmer kings in a process that lasted almost 4 centuries and was subsequently abandoned in the mid-1400s when Thai armies invaded. Hidden by jungles, the ruins were rediscovered in 1860 and the lost civilisation instantly piqued the research interest of Western archaeologists and historians.

Machu Picchu, Peru Accessible only by train or a 4 day trek, this amazing site is widely referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”. Invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural promenades sufficient to feed the population, and watered by natural springs, the Machu Picchu site seemed to have been built by the Inca as a secret ceremonial city.

The Moai statues of Easter Island, Pacific Ocean These massive and amazingly carved ancient relics, Moai are seen all over the island, and in different shapes, sizes, and stages of completion. Many statues were left unfinished at the quarry site and there is no evidence yet as to what functions did the Moai served. These incredibly carved statues are alas the only thing left of the mysterious Polynesian culture that once lived there.

Petra, Jordan Discovered in 19th century by a Swiss explorer, the massive historical site was made famous by Hollywood motion picture, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and one of the most recognisable spots is the Al Khazneh, commonly referred to as the ‘Treasury’. Its function was a mystery until a recent excavation revealed that the Treasury was actually a tomb, probably of the royalties.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt These extraordinary 3,000 years old pyramid still hold a vast number of unopened chambers till this day. Historians and scientists are baffled at the remarkable human engineering of the pyramids that was built to directly align with the stars and the solstices.

The Roman Colosseum, Rome Dating back from AD 72, this is the scene where countless stories of gory battles between gladiators, slaves, prisoners and wild animals have emerged from this amphitheatre. Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the amphitheatre was ravaged by Roman popes and aristocrats, all eager to use its materials for their palaces and churches.

Stonehenge, England Erected around 2500BC, this was an impressive engineering feat during its time. The massive stones were aligned almost perfectly with the sunrise on the summer solstice and for that reason it was speculated to be a site for ancient rituals as well as a sacred burial ground for high-ranking officials

Taj Mahal, India One of the finest prehistoric buildings in the world, this Mughal beauty was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife who died in childbirth. It was constructed by twenty thousand workers from marble and inlayed with twenty-eight different kinds of precious and semi-precious stones from across India and Asia.

The Great Wall of China, China The world’s longest man made structure, it is a breath-taking feat of ancient defence architecture that took over 21 centuries of construction and rebuilding. Formed mainly to protect the Chinese Empire from northern invaders, the wall is also known as the “longest cemetery on earth” because of the many deaths during its construction.