Top 10 Incredible Architectural Structures of the Ancient World
Modern technology and innovative developments allow architects and builders to realize truly impressive projects. But most of them are still no match for the architectural marvels of the ancient world. Many buildings of that epoch are shrouded in mystery: how could people erect such “majigs” without cranes, bulldozers and even cement; how did these buildings manage to survive to this day? Historians have found an answer to some questions, others are likely to remain a mystery to us. So, we have prepared for you a list of 10 impressive monuments of architecture built during the era of the Ancient World.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is considered the largest architectural monument in the world. It was built over several centuries to protect against the raids of nomadic warlike peoples. The total length of the construction exceeds 21 thousand kilometers. The first stage of the construction took place in the III century B.C. It was to clearly delineate the northern border of the Chinese state. It is noteworthy that about 20% of the then population of China took part in the construction.
At that time, China was fragmented into several separate states with their ruling clans, so sections of the wall were built separately, but over time the mud-brick “sections” were joined together. After the country was united into a single empire, it reached the peak of its power and wealth (2nd century BC). As the territory expanded, it needed better protection, so Emperor Qin Shi Huang decided to make the wall longer. The Great Wall of China grew longer and longer, and the last “addition” was made in the period from the 14th to the 17th century AD.
It is noteworthy that this is the only man-made structure that can be seen from space without the use of optics.
Megalithic temples of Malta
Megaliths are constructions of the late Neolithic and Aeneolithic eras, consisting of huge boulders. They are mainly found in Europe, Asia and Africa, but the most interesting monuments of architecture of that era are located on the island of Malta.
Maltese megalithic temples are among the historical monuments under the care of UNESCO. Archaeologists believe that the construction of the structure dates back to 3150 B.C. The oldest temple complex is Jgantija (built between 3600 and 3200 B.C.), which is located on the island of Gozo, near Malta. And also in the complex includes Hal Saflieni (3300 – 3000 BC), although this temple has its own number on the list of monuments protected by UNESCO and Tarshien (3150 – 2500 BC).
Almost all the temples were built for religious rituals, namely the worship of the fertility gods, accompanied by sacrifices. Hal Saflieni may also have served as a burial site. According to archaeologists’ preliminary estimates, some 7,000 ancient Maltese were buried there.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is among a complex of pyramids erected on a plateau of the same name. They were intended as an ancient “mausoleum” for the pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), that’s why you can often find this name. Archaeologists say that its construction took place between 2580 and 2560 BC. To this day, we have not solved the mystery of how the Egyptians in such a short period could build a huge pyramid of boulders, each of which weighed several tons.
The pyramid of Cheops is the most massive and majestic of all Egyptian pyramids. Next to it are also built the pyramid of Menkerin (Menkaure) and the pyramid of Chephren (Khafra). For a long time it was the highest architectural structure on the planet. Interestingly, the Cheops pyramid was originally lined with glowing white limestone that cast the glare of the sun. However, after the sacking of Cairo by the Arabs in the second half of the 12th century, the locals removed the white limestone from the pyramid to rebuild houses in the burned city.
The Tower of Pisa
We’ve all heard about the “falling” tower in the Italian city of Pisa. But what is the reason for its leaning? Previously, it was thought that this is an artificial fall conceived during construction, but later historians proved that the tower slopes due to miscalculations of the builders, who installed a small foundation of 3 meters in height on soft soil. The height of the tower at its highest point is 56.67 meters.
The construction of the Tower of Pisa began in the second half of the XII century and lasted almost two centuries. An indirect “culprit” for the erection of the tower is the rich Italian woman Berta di Bernardo, who bequeathed a certain amount to the church, with which the boulders included in the foundation were purchased. The first phase of construction was discontinued five years after construction began. At that time 3 floors were built, noticing that the tower was leaning, the builders abandoned the work for a good 20 years, engaged in strengthening the soil. It is interesting, that the bell tower was built separately from the tower (in the XIV century), and has a smaller slope. It was possible to stop the fall of the tower only at the turn of XX-XXI centuries, having slightly leveled the construction. Previously the angle of inclination exceeded 5º, but now it is equal to 3.54 degrees. We hope the tower will not be levelled completely, because then it would lose its charm.
Don’t miss the interesting article on most-beauty.ru about the top 10 tilted towers that rival the Tower of Pisa.
The Taj Mahal is located in India and combines the functions of a mausoleum and a mosque. It is protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site. The Taj Mahal’s grandeur is evidenced by its unspoken title as the “jewel of Muslim art.”
The construction of the building began in the first half of the 17th century and it took just over 20 years. The construction of the mausoleum was ordered by Padishah Shah Jahan I. He built it for his wife, who had died during childbirth. A few years later the ruler of the Baburid Empire himself was buried here as well. The best architects of that time worked on the erection of the Taj Mahal. Different kinds of work was carried out by 22 thousand builders from all parts of Asia. Rare materials needed in the process of erecting the mausoleum were brought not only from remote parts of India, but also from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Instead of the bamboo scaffolding used at the time, brick scaffolding was used. The structure was so large that the architects feared it would take years to dismantle. Then the Padishah allowed the peasants to take as many bricks as they could. Within a night the scaffolding was dismantled.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the Taj Mahal has somewhat lost its whiteness – the facade is yellowing due to air pollution. Despite a number of measures taken to preserve the color of the mausoleum, it has to be constantly “renewed” with clay of lighter shades.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
This magnificent mosque, built in the early 17th century, is a historical monument and a true treasure of world architecture. It is also called the Blue Mosque or the Sultanahmet Mosque. The construction of the mosque was a kind of gift to Allah presented by Sultan Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire.
Three years before construction began, the Ottomans waged war with two states at once: the Holy Roman Empire and the Safavid state. Having lost the war to the Europeans, the sultan decided to propitiate the Almighty by building a magnificent mosque.
It is interesting that all previous rulers of the Ottoman Empire took money for the mosques from the spoils of war, but Ahmed I was not a great military leader, so he had to pay for the Blue Mosque from his own pocket.
The Alhambra Palace or Castle is part of the architectural ensemble of the same name located in the southern Spanish city of Granada. It shocks both the beauty of the facade and the incredible richness of the interiors. This is truly an architectural wonder of the ancient world.
The palace was built by several emirs of Granada over more than two centuries until the city was conquered by the Catholic kings (Isabella I and Ferdinand II). Next to the mosque and the emir’s palace, Europeans erected several buildings, among which the Catholic church and the palace of Charles V are worth mentioning.
During the Napoleonic wars, the French were going to destroy the Alhambra, but their plans were thwarted by their own soldier. Legend has it that he extinguished the burning cord that led to the explosives planted under the palace with his body.
This megalithic structure is located in southern Britain, near the town of Amesbury. Like all architectural monuments on the list, Stonehenge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The structure consists of several huge boulders stacked in a certain structure. The round shape of the structure has led historians to speculate that Stonehenge was used as a clock or calendar. Later on, however, historians came to the conclusion that it was a burial site, as human remains were discovered in the vicinity. Burial took place between 3,000 and 2,500 B.C.
It is believed that the construction of Stonehenge took place in several stages, stretching over almost a thousand years. It is interesting that together with the remains of humans buried about 5,000 years ago, human bones have also been discovered in the vicinity of Stonehenge. Their examination of the bones has shown that they belong to the XVIII – V centuries BC.
This religious structure is located in Indonesia, and has the common name of a stupa, the feature of which is the hemispherical outline of the “tops” of the buildings. And Borobudur also includes several temples built for the worship of the Buddha. The construction of this architectural monument, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dates back to the eighth to ninth centuries AD.
It is hard to believe, but such a majestic architectural complex in its time was simply forgotten, and hundreds of years hidden in the jungle, covered with volcanic ash. The reason for the oblivion is still a mystery. Some scholars suggest that this is the fault of the volcanic eruption that occurred in the early XI century, others argue that Borobudur was abandoned by people in the first half of the IX century, 80 years before the eruption.
In the XIX century the complex was subjected to frequent looting by traders of ancient artifacts. At the beginning of the twentieth century the condition of Borobudur was deplorable: the soft soil was subjected to constant erosion, as well as dense vegetation damaging the walls, threatened to destroy the historic monument. Fortunately, a major restoration of Borobudur was carried out in the 70s and 80s, allowing the majestic structure to be preserved for posterity.
Chand Baori was originally called “City of Brightness” or Abha Negri after the city of the same name, but over time the city was renamed Abaneri, giving a new name to the architectural structure as well. Chand Baori is a multistage well. The depth of the well can accommodate a modern nine-story house (30 meters). Chand Baori was built between the IX and XI centuries AD.
By the way, about this place we wrote in detail in our article about the most beautiful stairs in the world. We highly recommend taking a look!
Inside the well, of course, there is water, but it is so cloudy that it is forbidden to swim in it. Tourists are only allowed to wash their limbs, but often people (mostly locals) fall into the water, putting their lives in danger. The water in the well is so harmful that it can kill in just 3 days. To reduce the number of accidents, the caretakers of Chand Baori have installed a railing to guard against the steps of the well, but will the railing stop the adventurer who wants to see with his own eyes Durga and Ganapati below the “pit”?
10 most ancient buildings in the world
The oldest buildings on Earth serve as a reminder for modern man of those who built them many centuries ago.
Most of the structures are built of huge slabs of stone, many of them located in areas that are currently uninhabited. Despite persistent research, their age has also been determined only approximately.
Modern people, looking at such buildings and structures, only wonder how in ancient times without improvised tools it was possible to create such things.
The following article presents a list of the 10 most ancient buildings in the world, which help to learn what life was like for people thousands of years ago.
10. Royal Tomb (Sweden)
The Royal Tomb in Sweden was discovered by an archaeologist named Hallström Gustav during excavations since 1931. The structure is located 320 meters off the coast of the eastern coast of the province of Scania.
Researchers estimate that the structure was erected in the Bronze Age, at least 3,000 years ago. After the discovery of the Royal Tomb and the restoration of the interior, a variety of images have been seen on its walls, such as of ships, birds, animals and fish.
Naveta des Tudons (Spain).
The tomb is located in the city of Minorca, which is located in Spain. Scientists believe that its age is more than 3200 years. The tomb was used for its intended purpose from 1200 to 750 BC.
Its shape is quite interesting, it looks like an inverted boat, the material for its construction were stone blocks. The burial place was found in 1975 century, in it were found the remains of more than a hundred people and their belongings, such as bracelets made of bronze, buttons made of ceramics.
Today, the tomb can be visited by anyone, is open and is one of the main attractions of the city of Minorca.
8. Treasury of Atreus (Greece)
This place also has another name – “Tomb of Agamemnon”, it is located in the city of Mycenae in Greece. The treasury is believed to be built more than 3250 years ago, during the Bronze Age. It is one of the most impressive monuments of ancient architecture of monumental size. Earlier the treasury also had the largest and widest dome among the greatest structures in the world.
7. Caral (Peru)
Caral is the oldest settlement in Peru. Its area was about 60 hectares and on it was built a large number of pyramids. People inhabited the city more than 4,600 years ago.
During the archaeological excavations, scientists have found many musical instruments, jewelry made of stone, household items, but did not find weapons. Because of this, researchers believed that the population of the city, which lived there from 2600 BC to 2000 AD, was peaceful enough and engaged in trade without waging wars.
6. Pyramid of Djoser (Egypt)
The pyramid is the oldest extant stone building in the world. It was built by Imhotep to bury the Egyptian pharaoh Djoser about 2650 BC. The height of the construction is more than 60 meters and its size is 125*115 meters.
The pyramid is a six-step building, which is perfectly preserved to this day, only slightly covered with sand. It became the first pyramid in Ancient Egypt and served as a prototype for the construction of others.
The core of the construction consists of limestone blocks. The tomb was built not only for the pharaoh, but also for all members of his family, archaeologists found 11 burial chambers, the body of Djoser was not found. The tomb was subjected to numerous robberies in ancient times.
5. Hulbjerg Jættestue (Denmark)
The tomb is located on the island of Langeland, located in Denmark. The structure was built over 5000 years ago of 13 stone blocks, which fit together tightly. During archaeological excavations in the tomb were found the remains of at least 400 people.
Scientists were interested in the teeth of one of the buried, they were clearly treated. The level of the ancient “dentists” amazed modern researchers, as the filling in the tooth was very well inserted.
4. newgrange (Ireland)
Newgrange is a corridor tomb located in Ireland. Scientists date its origin to 2500 BC. The structure is about 40-45 km from Dublin. The height of the structure is more than 13 meters, and a diameter of about 85 meters. The tomb chamber is entered by a corridor 19 metres long.
Inside the tomb was a ritual bowl, in its walls were punched niches that are decorated with stone carvings, all preserved to this day. It was discovered in 1699, but full-scale research began in 1962.
3. Monte d’Accoddi (Italy)
The oldest temple is located in Sardinia, was built over 5000 years ago. By the Bronze Age the structure had been abandoned; before that period it served as a place for religious ceremonies.
During World War II the temple was badly destroyed, since the 1950s it began to be restored, is now a tourist attraction.
2. Knap of Howar (Scotland).
The house of stone is located in Scotland and is at least 5500 years old and belongs to the Neolithic Age. It is considered one of the oldest stone houses in Northern Europe that have survived.
The structure was a farmhouse which consisted of two buildings adjacent to each other, it had low doorways, no windows, and light entered the house through a smoke hole in the roof. Today, what remains of the stone homestead are the walls, items of stone furniture, such as stoves, beds, and shelves for belongings.
1. Megalithic Temples of Malta
Maltese temples were erected at least a thousand years before the Egyptian pyramids were built. Most of the monolithic stone slabs that make up the structure weighed more than 50 tons.
Researchers still have not solved the mystery of how it was built without special equipment. No similar structures have been found anywhere in the world, so scientists have also been unable to figure out what civilization built the temples and where it disappeared to.