The world is truly blessed with a diverse culture and heritage. Over the years, it has witnessed establishments of various classical architectural structures where some were preserved while many others were ruined by natural calamities.
Aside from the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, where only the Pyramid of Giza remains standing, there are still many remarkable creations made during ancient times that symbolizes classical antiquity.
Take a look at five of the many wonders of the ancient world that were made without any aid of modern technology and machinery.
1. Angkor Wat
Built in the early 12th century by Khmer King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is the first Hindu then Buddhist temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The “City of Temple” was dedicated to Vishnu, the Supreme God in Hinduism, and became the King’s temple and the capital city of Khmer. It eventually became the King’s mausoleum.
The style and architecture of Angkor Wat is a combination of Khmer temple architecture: a temple mountain and a galleried temple that is based on early Dravidian architecture. The characteristics of Angkor Wat include the redented towers shaped like lotus buds, half and axial galleries, and cruciform terraces along the main axis of the temple. Sandstone was also used as the main building material while the laterite was used for the outer wall and other hidden structural areas.
At present, Angkor Wat is part of the World Heritage Site and a symbol of Cambodia, making it one of the country’s major tourist attractions.
2. Chichen Itza
Located in the Yucatan state in Mexico, Chichen Itza’s name means “at the mouth of the well of Itza.” One of the largest cities built by the Mayan civilization, Chichen Itza was once a major focal point of the Mayans from the Late Classic period or 600 AD to the early portion of the Early Postclassic period, 1200 AD. It was also believed to be one of the mythical great cities, also known as Tollans, and had the most diverse population in the Mayan world.
Chichen Itza was built upon broken terrain using fine stone buildings. The buildings surrounding the city were connected by a sacbeob or a network of paved causeways. It also has 3 complexes: Great North platform, Osario Group, and the Central group. In the city, you will find El Castillo, the Great Ball Court, Cenote Sagrado, Temple of the Warriors, and Las Monjas among many others.
Today, Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. It is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
3. Machu Picchu
One of the most popular tourist destinations that symbolized the ancient world and an icon of the Incan civilization, Machu Picchu is located in the mountains above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. It is a 15th century Inca site that was believed to be an estate of Incan emperor, Pachacuti.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450, during the time of two of the great Incas, Pachacuti and Tupac. Using the classical Incan style of dry-stone walls in regular shape, the architecture of the site depended on the natural form of the mountains where approximately 200 buildings were built on parallel terraces. Machu Picchu was also divided between the urban sector and the agricultural sector. Unfortunately, it was abandoned in 1572 upon the arrival of Spanish conquistadores who allegedly introduced smallpox to the inhabitants.
It was only in 1911 when Machu Picchu was discovered. Since its discovery, it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, drawing thousands of tourists and Peru’s major revenue generators. Recently, the UNESCO conservation experts called for the government of Peru to initiate emergency measures to stabilize the buffer zone and pressure protection due to tourism-related development.
4. The Colosseum
Also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire and the largest in the world. It is also considered as one of the greatest works showcasing Roman architecture and engineering.
The Colosseum was constructed between 70-72 AD during the time of Emperor Vespasian. Due to natural calamities such as fire and earthquake, the site underwent major repairs and construction. It was during the 16th and 17th centuries when the Colosseum was once again used as a wool factory, then later on for bullfights. It was also a venue for gladiator shows, animal hunt or venatio, and simulated sea battles or navalia proelia. But The Colosseum is not all about violence. It also became a venue for sylvae or recreation of natural scenes wherein painters and architects construct a simulation of the forest to display a natural environment for the urban population.
The Colosseum today is visited by millions of people from around the world. It also has a museum dedicated to Eros that is located on the upper floor of the building. It also has a close connection with the Catholic Church and is considered an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.
5. The Great Pyramid of Giza
The oldest and the remaining among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is impossible not to give the number one spot to the Pyramid of Giza. It is also one of the tallest man-made structures in the world.
According to historians, the pyramids were built as a tomb for Egyptian pharaoh Khufu. An estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks were used by thousands of workers in building the pyramids. However, the mystery remains as to the construction techniques employed, making the pyramids perfect and precise.
The most accepted theory is that the pyramids were built by moving the stones from a quarry then dragging and lifting them into a place that is according to the measurement prescribed.
Over the years, archaeologists all over the world explore the interiors of the pyramids. The Pyramid of Giza has 3 known chambers – the Queen’s Chamber, the Grand Gallery, and the King’s Chamber. It is also the pyramid in Egypt that has both ascending and descending passages and is surrounded by several buildings and smaller pyramids.
Despite rapid urbanization, it is good to know that some of the architectural establishments built by our ancestor’s thousands of years ago are still preserved up to this day. This is a good reminder for all of us to appreciate and embrace the diversity and richness of the world’s culture and heritage through the contributions made by our ancestors.