Large, sprawling cities are a modern phenomenon, but urban centers have existed worldwide for more than 6,000 years. Click through these beautiful pictures to see some of the most famous ancient cities in the world. The most famous Inca site globally is located on a 2,500 m high mountain ridge in spectacular surroundings on an Andean peak in southern Peru.
The stonemasons who built the town in the 15th century did not use mortar, but over 150 buildings were constructed of fine dry stone walls.
Machu Picchu, Peru
The name Machu Picchu can be interpreted as “Old Mountain.”. Although the purpose of the citadel is mysterious, it is believed to have been a residential and religious center.
Butrint in southern Albania has been inhabited since prehistoric times and tells that it was a Greek colony, a Roman town, an episcopal center, a Byzantine outpost, and occupied by the Venetians briefly.
In southern Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, this growing metropolis is famous for its impressive sculptures, stone lintels, doors, and hieroglyphics describing the area’s dynastic history. The name Yaxchilan is said to mean “greenstone” in one of the Mayan languages. In the 4th century B.C., the city included a theatre, an acropolis, and a forum, and the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar extended the city by building aqueducts and bathhouses in the 1st century A.D.
Situated on the west Turkish coast, Ephesus (Mediterranean) was an entire Greco-Roman city. Timgad, the most significant Roman settlement ever built in North Africa, was founded in 100 AD by Emperor Trajan and created by retired military personnel. Standing on a plateau, the city is littered with vaulted columns and crumbling walls.
The city was founded in the 10th century B.C. and attracted merchants, sailors, and pilgrims worldwide. In 133 BC, it became a Roman province under Augustus Caesar and the first city in Roman Asia. Local legends say that Ephesus was the last home of the Virgin Mary.
Leptis Magna, Libya
Leptis Magna on the Libyan Mediterranean coast is one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire. It was founded in the 7th century B.C. and the birthplace of Septimus Severus (145 AD), who enlarged and embellished the city when he became Emperor in 193 AD.
Deep in the forests of northern Guatemala is Tikal, a Mayan citadel from the 4th century B.C. to the 9th century A.D. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Central America, dating back to Columbus.
There are thousands of buildings in and around the city. The city is preserved with stone temples, palaces, and a public square.
Located 89 km north of Bangkok, the fascinating ruins of the city bear witness to its architectural splendor: high relic towers perch atop huge Buddhist monasteries, many of which have been restored and provide an insight into one of Asia’s most important trade and diplomatic centers. A large square is located in the middle, flanked by two large pyramids to the east and west and the Acropolis to the north and south. A myriad of temples rises up to 40 m in height. Over the centuries, tree roots have made their way through many architectural features, giving the city a mystical atmosphere. The city is not the only attraction: the surrounding area is rich in exotic flora and fauna, with hundreds of bird species.
Like its better-known neighbor Pompeii, Rome was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. Unlike its more famous neighbor, however, the Roman city was less impressive, as it is believed that dust and ash streams from Vesuvius contributed to the preservation of the buildings to a large extent.
Regular streets, houses, shops, and brothels provide a fascinating snapshot of everyday Roman life. The city’s familiar streets and homes and shops and brothels offer fascinating photographs of everyday Roman life.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
The spectacular city of Sigiriya is situated 182 meters high on a granite peak that towers over the lush plains of central Sri Lanka. It requires a strenuous climb of 1,200 steps up a steep cliff edge to reach the summit. The “lion’s rock” was built by King Kashyapa around 477 AD and was the center of his kingdom.
The ruined city was the capital of the Mauritanian kingdom from the 3rd century B.C. It exported grain, olive oil, animals, and gladiator fights. It was incorporated into the Roman Empire under Emperor Claudius I in A.D. 44 and grew in wealth and size. It once had 20,000 inhabitants, but its location on the outskirts of the empire made it vulnerable to outside tribes.