Are you dreaming of getting out and visiting beautiful heritage sites around the world as soon as the COVID situation is over? Well, guess what, you are not alone. Enthralling sites full of cultural history and architectural marvels of ancient times excites us more than ever. To experience such places is always on everyone’s bucket list of adventures! 

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Below we have listed some of the most beautiful, stunning, and exotic heritage sites to explore.

1. Taj Mahal, India

Standing majestically on the banks of Yamuna river, this colossal white marble mausoleum is an enduring monument of love. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built this monument in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal in the 17th century. Taj Mahal, always described as ‘the epitome of love’, “a monument of immeasurable beauty” is inlaid with semi-precious stones and carvings and Quranic verse in calligraphy. The mausoleum’s pure white marble shines like a heavenly abode at dawn when the first rays of golden radiance fall on it also it shines like a beautiful diamond under the magical light of the full moon.

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Taj Mahal ©smartetravel.com
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Taj Mahal ©travelogyIndia.com

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is the most famous city built by the historical Incan Empire at the peak of its power and achievement. With a commanding view over two valleys, the ruins of this ancient city lie hidden in a saddle between two mountains. Built-in the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls, the city boost advanced engineering techniques in the use of local materials for drainage of water and earthquake resistance of structures and terraces.

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Machu Picchu ©incayniperutours.com
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Machu Picchu ©andeansouladventure.com

3. Historic centre of Angkor, Cambodia

Angkor is one of the most important and exquisite archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Angkor filled with impressive monuments, several different ancient urban plans and large water reservoirs is a testament of the grandeur and perfection of the classical Khmer architecture. Temples such as the famous Angkor Wat with its lotus inspired towers, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural ornamentation, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm known for its endless roots of trees coiling like reptiles around the temples are examples of Khmer architecture. The highlights of all the sensational monuments are the intricately carved narrative bas reliefs depicting scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Buddhist belief.

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Angkor Wat ©wikipedia.com
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Angkor Wat Interior ©livestaticflickr.com

4. Bagan, Myanmar

Framed by the hazy grey mountains of distant lands, sitting on a vast plain dotted with greens and rising towers of tens, no, hundreds of temples on a dusky evening, beautiful, other-worldly silhouettes built by the kings of Bagan between 1057 and 1287 AD. Among the 4450 temples built, only 2230 survive. An enchanting beauty spread on a 26 square-mile plain can be dredged upon foot, cycle, horses, vehicles, etc. Built in Khmer architectural style by the kings of Bagan, most are unique and restored to their original state with many containing frescos and intricate carvings of Buddha. 

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5. Petra, Jordan

Like a celestial spotlight in the sky, the sun illuminates the stone hewn ruins of the rose city of Petra. A thriving metropolis during its existence is now a giant treasure of monuments, tombs, and other elaborate structures carved into stone cliffs. It is characterized by the Nabatean architecture, a blend of Assyrian, Egyptian, Hellenistic and roman architectural styles. A narrow road made of a split of rock takes you through the ancient entrance of Petra, the moment you reach the end of the path is more magnificent than can be expressed.

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6. Mont Saint Michel, France

Often called as the wonder of the west, the Gothic style, the medieval monastery is perched on a magical island surrounded by a mesmerizing bay. Developed in the confines of its walls and natural limits, the place is a technical and artistic marvel having had to adapt to the natural site. The walled city is connected by a bridge that during high tides submerges into water thereby mystifying its presence. The place is famous for its silhouettes along with the breathtaking sunsets and its resemblance to Hogwarts.

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Mont Saint Michel ©parisinsiderguide.com
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7. Venice and its lagoons, Italy

Founded by necessity to flee, Venice is an epitome of architectural ingenuity, a result of human interaction and intervention with the lagoon. The unique architecture accumulated in the lagoon shows the highly technical and creative skills of the people to merge the city with its natural dynamics. Venetian Gothic is the variant architectural style seen in most of the structures here. The most famous of the sites include the five-domed St. Mark’s Basilica, Palazzo Ducale, Porta Della Carta, Ponte Rialto and Piazza San Marco. One can enjoy the architectural beauty by wandering the city in a gondola.

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Venice ©traveller.mariott.com
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8. Ancient Kyoto, Japan

The country’s spiritual heart and cultural soul, Ancient Kyoto is a sight to behold with its ancient temples, shrines, and serene gardens sitting in picturesque and calm surroundings. Ancient Kyoto comprises 17 sites of cultural importance built between the 10th and 17th century represents various unique periods and highlights the development of Japanese wooden architecture and the art of beautiful Japanese gardens.

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9. Bryggen, Bergen, Norway

Built again after the great fire of 1702, Bryggen features a series of Hanseatic heritage commercial buildings lining up the harbour. The Iconic front is lined by gable buildings in colourful hues of colours. Hidden behind the front lies the historical city with a world of passages, small shops and galleries to explore. It’s a part of cultural heritage to explore, a place stuck in time, a reminiscence of a bygone era.

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10. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Iran

Built-in Isfahani style, Naqsh-e Jahan square is situated in the center of the historical city of Isfahan. Constructed in the 6th century the square is flanked by impressive architecture from the Safavid era. The crown jewel of the plaza was the Masjed-e Shah having the largest dome in the city is covered with intricate arabesque designs in golden yellow and turquoise mosaic tiles and calligraphy, which bless the spectator with a space of eternal radiance. Other monuments in the square are the Lotfollah mosque known for its exquisite tile work and Ali Qapu which marks the entrance to the imperial palace. Kesaria Gate connects the imperial bazaar and is one of the oldest and largest bazaars in the middle east.

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Naqsh – e Jahan square ©isfahaninfo.com
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Naqsh – e Jahan square ©irantravelingcenter.com
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Naqsh – e Jahan square ©apochi.com

Those were some of the most beautiful heritage sites in the world, there are numerous sites of eternal beauty, narrowing it to a list of ten was quite a task. If I missed one of your favourite sites, do let us know in the comments!

Author

Nitin Mhapsekar is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Architecture. He is upskilling and trying different possibilities for his career. He loves travelling and going on adventures as well as using his leisure time to read fictions, cook and research.

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