The most visited archaeological sites in the world

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Joel Fulleda

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Our planet is rich in buildings and monuments which, thanks also to subsequent works, excavations and finds, have been brought to light and preserved in an excellent way.
From Europe to Asia there are hundreds of archaeological sites that each year welcome millions of visitors curious to know the ancient civilizations that made history.
Obviously Italy could not be missing from this ranking, a country with a historical and artistic heritage that has no equal in the world.
Here are the most visited archaeological sites in the world.

NB: The following ranking considers only those archaeological ruins that are no longer active for purposes other than tourism or research. Therefore, for example, Shinto or Buddhist temples still in use for prayer are excluded, as well as South American (eg: Pueblo de Taos in Mexico) or Asian (eg: Xidi in China) villages still inhabited.


  1. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  2. Canyon de Chelly, Chinle, Arizona
  3. Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
  4. Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico
  5. Stonehenge, Salisbury, United Kingdom
  6. Longman Caves, Luoyang, China
  7. Roman Baths, Bath, UK
  8. Hadrian's Wall, Brampton, UK
  9. Ellora Caves, Ellora, India
  10. Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
  11. Hierapoli, Hierapolis, Turkey
  12. Teotihuacan, Teotihuacan, Mexico
  13. Ephesus, Ephesus, Turkey
  14. Acropolis, Athens, Greece
  15. Pompeii, Pompeii, Egypt
  16. Pyramid of Giza, Giza, Egypt
  17. Terracotta Army, Xi'An, China
  18. Imperial Forums, Rome, Italy
  19. Colosseum, Rome, Italy
  20. Great Wall, Badaling, China
  21. User questions and comments

20 - Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

It means Temple of the City and is a Kmer temple within the great site of Angkor, Cambodia.
It dates back to 1113-1150, when the emperor Suryavarman had it built to be a Hindu temple, but around the end of the th century it was transformed into a Buddhist place.
Country symbol, has a rectangular shape 1,5 km long and 1,3 km wide; is surrounded by a large moat and walls where there are 3 rectangular galleries, arranged one above the other and in the center of the temple there are 5 towers.

19 - Canyon de Chelly, Chinle, Arizona

Protected natural area of the United States, in the north-eastern area of ​​Arizona, the canyon occupies an area of ​​339,3 km2 within the Navajo Indian Reservation.
Characterized by two main canyons that form a Y horizontal is located at a height of 1.600 meters above sea level and is dug into the sandstone with vertical walls that reach 300 meters.
Inside the canyon there are several points of interest such as the First Ruin and Junction Ruin where there are settlements dating back to 1100 and 1300; White House and Spider Rock.

18 - Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and since 2007 elected as one of the seven wonders of the world modern, this is one of the largest and most visited archaeological sites in the world.
It is located at 2.430 meters above sea level and the ruins, which probably date back to 1440, when the Inca emperor had the city built, are located halfway between the peaks of two mountains and can be reached on foot by walking in very scenic places.
The area is 530 meters long and 200 meters wide and includes 172 levels; the complex is divided into two large areas, the agricultural area with terraces used for cultivation, and the urban area where the inhabitants lived and where the main activities took place.

17 - Tulum, Yucatan, Mexico

Nestled in a wonderful location and overlooking the Mexican Caribbean coast you will find these archaeological remains of the ancient port city of the Maya which dates back to around the year 1000.

Of this magnificent site it is possible to admire the main building, called Castillo, a stone structure perched on a cliff overlooking the white sand beach below.
Do not miss the Temple of the Descending God and on the opposite side there is the Temple of the Wind from where a 10 km path starts that leads to the Casa del Cenote, a cave with crystal clear fresh water.

16 - Stonehenge, Salisbury, United Kingdom

It is an archaeological site that dates back to the Neolithic, between 3000 and 2300 BC, which later became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
These hanging stones are found in Wiltshire, England, and the area is characterized by a collection of large boulders arranged in a circular way known as megaliths and topped with huge elements.
Their function has never been clear, although it has been speculated that they could serve as a temple for pagan cults or as astronomical observatories.

15 - Longman Caves, Luoyang, China

South of the city of Luoyan halfway between Mount Xiang, Mount Longmen and the Yi River are these caves.
1.200 caves and niches with inside engravings, statues, engraved stones and Buddhist images that date back to the period between 618 and 907 when the area was inhabited by the Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties.
Do not miss the Fengxian Temple, the Wanfo Quarry characterized by a series of caves with two rooms and flat and square roofs; the Guyang Quarry, the first to be created and the Lotus Quarry with impressive floral reliefs dedicated to Buddha.

14 - Roman Baths, Bath, UK

Built in the time of Emperor Vespasian in 75 AD in what was once called Aquae Sulis, the term, in England, they are one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.
In this area, in fact, since 10.000 BC the subsoil was rich in warm waters with healing properties which, especially between the th and th centuries, were exploited by the British high society who frequented this place assiduously.
Today it is possible to admire the various environments that develop mostly underground and visit the ancient pools surrounded by arcades as well as discover the museum full of well-preserved treasures.

13 - Hadrian's Wall, Brampton, UK

L'imposing fortification built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the first half of the II and which takes the name of "Hadrian's Wall" once marked the border and divided the island in two: the Roman province occupied by Britain and the then Caledonia.
The route winds for 117 km and starts from the mouth of the River Tyne to reach the Solway Firth; along this route it is possible to visit numerous remains of the Roman forts and different thematic museums.
Trekking lovers can then explore the area on foot and travel the 135km that line the fortifications and discover charming villages and big cities like Newcastle and Carlisle.

12 - Ellora Caves, Ellora, India

Among the most famous and visited archaeological sites in the world there is this complex formed by 34 caves which have always had the function of monasteries and temples.
The caves are located in the federal state of Maharashtra, in the north-western part of India, extend for 2 km and have been excavated alongside a cliff.
The first 13 belong to the Buddhist cult and date back to the V-VII AD; the caves from 14 to 29, instead, are placed in the period between VII-IX and are dedicated to the Hindu divinities.
Finally, the last niches, from 30 to 34, are the most recent ones, built between the th and th for the Janist cult.

11 - Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Listed among the 7 Wonders of the World and declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico and the whole world.
This monumental complex it houses one of the best preserved Mayan sites; dates back to 600 AD and is located in what was once a strategic area because unlike other areas of the Yucatan, here there was no shortage of natural wells essential for life.
Inside the area it is possible to admire the Kukulkan temple, that of the warriors, the Pelota Field, the Las Monjas complex, the Ossuary, the Balankanche caves and much more.
One of the best times to visit the site, although full of tourists, it is on the occasion of the autumn and spring equinoxes, when it is possible to admire a fascinating optical effect on the staircase of the Kukulkan temple.

10 - Hierapoli, Hierapolis, Turkey

Also called Hierapolis, it is a Hellenistic-Roman city in Phrygia, Turkey, and the ruins that can be visited today are located in the famous locality of Pamukkale, known for its hot springs.
The best preserved remains belong to the civilization that dominated the area after 60 AD ed it is possible to admire a Roman theater, a wide necropolis and Byzantine church of the Apostle Philip who almost completely occupies the hill.
Not to be missed are the "pools" with thermal waters that flow in the middle of the ruins, forming limestone concretions.

9 - Teotihuacan, Teotihuacan, Mexico

40 km from Mexico City, is one of the best preserved pre-Columbian cities of Mesoamerica.
The city is thought to date back to 100 BC., but the monuments were built up to 250 AD, and reached its maximum splendor between 150 and 450.
Along the central street, called "Viale dei Morti", there are the main buildings such as the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Citadel with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and the remains of palaces and buildings.

8 - Ephesus, Ephesus, Turkey

In 129 BC it was one of the most important cities of Anatolia, today Turkey, also thanks to its position at the mouth of the Caistro river.
Its ruins are among the most visited archaeological sites to the world and it is possible to admire the Theater, the small temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus and the numerous public baths, very well preserved.

Recent excavations have also brought to light the domus, beautiful noble houses built in terracing, with fabulous mosaics.
Unfortunately, however, only a single column remains of the Temple of Artemis since this building was razed to the ground in 401 by order of the then John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople.

7 - Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Symbol of Greece and of the glories of classical civilization, the Acropolis of Athens is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.
Located on the sacred hill of the city, 156 meters above sea level, it represents the largest architectural and artistic complex of ancient Greece.
Commissioned by Pericles in the th century BC includes the 4 masterpieces of classical Greek art: the Parthenon, the Propylaea, i.e. the sacred entrances, the Erechtheion, i.e. the Doric and Ionic style temple with the famous Caryatids, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

6 - Pompeii, Pompeii, Egypt

The Archaeological Excavations of Pompeii, a city in the province of Naples, allow you to make a fabulous dive into the past.
The findings of the remains of the ancient city buried under a blanket of ashes and lapilli following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 allow us to discover what happened more than 2 millennia ago.
During a day in Pompeii it is possible to admire the amphitheater, the forum, the Temple of Jupiter and that of Apollo, the Orto dei Fuggiaschi, the House of Sallustio, the Villa dei Misteri and the Theater.

5 - Pyramid of Giza, Giza, Egypt

The pyramid also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu, is the oldest and largest of the three that belong to the Giza Necropolis and according to Egyptologists it was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Cheops, reigning during 2560 BC
Originally the pyramid was 146,6 meters high, but today due to atmospheric events it is reduced to 138,8 meters; both externally and entirely it is formed by limestone, while the granite was used to cover the "king's chamber".
Inside the pyramid three rooms were discovered: the underground chamber, the Queen's chamber and the King's chamber.

4 - Terracotta Army, Xi'An, China

This World Heritage Site and archaeological site is among the most visited, and is characterized by a set of statues inside the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in Xi'An in China.
These statuettes, whose age is uncertain, served to protect Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife who lived between 260 and 210 BC
Excavations in 1974 have brought to light about 8.000 terracotta warriors dressed in armor and equipped with weapons, 18 wooden chariots and 100 terracotta horses.

3 - Fori Imperiali, Rome, Italy

L'archaeological area of ​​Rome between the Palatine Hill, the Campidoglio, Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Colosseum is called the Roman Forum, and is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world.
It is a architectural complex which was the center of the political activity of ancient Rome and which includes buildings built between 46 BC and 113 AD
Those who go to this area will be able to admire the Forums of Caesar, Augustus, Nerva, Traiano, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the rostrums and the Basilica Giulia.

2 - Colosseum, Rome, Italy

It is located in Rome, and was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, this one Roman amphitheater it is the second most visited archaeological site in the world.
Built between 72 and 80 AD during the reigns of Vespasian and Titus, in the heart of the city, it could hold between 50.000 and 87.000 people during gladiator shows and other public events.
Elliptical in shape it has a perimeter that measures 527 meters while the arena inside measures 86x 54 meters and occupies an area of ​​3357 m2.
Today, unfortunately, its condition creates concern among experts as the structure has several lesions and would need renovation works.

1 - Great Wall, Badaling, China

It is the most visited archaeological site in the world located in China, also counted among the 7 wonders of the world.
Built by the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi during the Qin dynasty between 221 and 206 BC, the wall in the original language is called "Wan-Li Qang-Qeng" which means long wall of 10.0000 Li (or 5.000 km), although in reality its total length built over the years has reached 21.196,18 km.
This site extends between the mountains to the north of the country and also wraps the territory northwest of Beijing; is made of rocks and beaten earth and the thickness varies from 4,5 to 9 meters, while it is about 7,5 meters high.

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