Five sites for ancient history fans
Text books and model cities go to great lengths to bring ancient history to life, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. The largest and best-preserved sites around the world are unfailingly evocative; each crumbled foundation tells the story of the generations of families who resided in a house; each amphitheatre speaks of the social gatherings as locals indulged in their leisure pursuits.
As these sites act as doorways to other worlds, you don’t have to be an ancient history fan to appreciate their significance. To experience the world at its fullest, here are the Flexicover team's favourite destinations that tempt us to travel the continent – then back in time.
Few archaeological sites are as dramatic as the magnificent Petra. As you enter from a narrow passage shadowed underneath rose-hued high walls, the sight of the sunshine thrown upon the intricately-carved Temple at the end seems more like a theatre backdrop than a real-life experience. And that’s only its opening gambit. Over the course of its 60km, this ancient village, discovered in 1812, reveals itself as an impressively-maintained base of the Nabataeans, who used it as a central hub between its Arab trade routes. The site is easy to reach, just a few hours away from Jordan’s capital of Amman and near to the Dead Sea too.
We couldn’t cover ancient history sites without mentioning the most famous of them all: the Acropolis in Greece. A crumbling city poised on a hill on the outskirts of Athens, the site was first inhabited 9,000 years ago. But the structures we see today have been standing for around 2,500 years, lasting through world wars, lightning strikes, explosions and erosion. Tourists can peruse what’s left of buildings like the Parthenon, see them recreated in the Acropolis Museum and take the obligatory snap on Lycabettus Hill, otherwise known as ‘the Balcony of Athens’ for its expansive view of the Acropolis and the Mediterranean beyond.
There’s so much ancient history to witness in Italy, but the Colosseum is our attraction of choice, not only because of its sheer size, but because of its significance within Roman history. This monster-sized amphitheatre was built 2,000 years ago as the centre of Roman society, joining together spectators from all classes to watch gruesome gladiatorial competitions between men and beasts. A guided tour will take you through the tunnels where the gladiators prepared to fight, as well as the cages where the animals were kept before their turn in the ring. The site is easily accessible from the centre of Rome, and one ticket covers the Colosseum and its neighbouring sites, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Easter Island, Chile
As with many sites like the Egyptian pyramids and the Ming Tombs in China, how ancient civilisations created their feats of engineering remains a mystery and a marvel. Each of the monolithic moai statues on Easter Island is over four metres tall and weighs over 14 tons, yet they were constructed and moved by the ancient Polynesians (whose settlement on this tiny island in the middle of the Pacific is equally mysterious and marvellous). Easter Island’s isolated location 2,000 miles west of South America means it’s not easy to visit, but a treat if you do. In addition to the famous statues scattered around the island, hundreds more are found in Rano Raraku quarry in various stages of completion.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
A popular daytrip with holidaymakers from the nearby resort of Cancun, as well as a destination in its own right, is the awe-inspiring Chichen Itza’s. Its centrepiece is the magnificent Temple of Kukulcan, an iconic four-sided stone pyramid with slopes of steps leading to its summit. Built around 325 AD, the temple and its surrounding city was the centre for the Mayan people until around 1,000 AD, when war left it in ruins. Much of the city and temple has been restored, and gives an incredible glimpse into a civilisation lost in the depths of time.
So wherever you plan to head to on your travels it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.