Some of man's most significant architectural and engineering feats stand witness to our enduring ingenuity. And our love of grandeur.
Shutterstock/RaywooGreat Wall of China More than 2,000 years after is construction began, the Great Wall of China is a source of mystery and intrigue and a testament to perseverance. Stretching an incredible 8,851 kilometres across China it’s an engineering feat with no equal. Most of the Great Wall was completed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). But the Great Wall is not just a wall. Designed for military purposes with forts, passes and beacon towers it housed soldiers and armouries. Its sheer size and length will take your breath away as will the stories of the thousands who built it.
Shutterstock/WitRGreat Pyramid of Giza The icons remain. Egyptian politics may be changing, but it’s oldest and most intriguing attractions are still standing. Including the king (or is that pharaoh) of them all, the Great Pyramid of Giza. One of the oldest attractions in the world, it was also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built over a 20-year period and completed around 2560 BC, the Great Pyramid stood 146.5 metres and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. Climb the steps to the entrance and explore passageways, the Grand Galley and the chambers of Egyptian royalty.
Rafael EstrellaMachu Picchu The “Lost City of the Incas” was built in the mid-1400s but abandoned a century later. What really happened here? No one knows. The ruins high above the Urubamba Valley north of Cusco showcase the Inca’s distinct architectural style of polished dry-stone walls where blocks of stone are cut to fit together – without mortar. Today visitors marvel at this engineering feat. There are recent efforts to limit the number of visitors in what is Peru’s most visited attraction to preserve the ruins. It’s a mystery worth exploring.
Shutterstock/Sergii FigurnyiPetra Dusty, rose pink rock faces command your attention. This is the famous Al-Khazneh or Treasury of Petra. Visit at twilight. Candles light the way through the kilometer-long Siq as the rock face blushes in the setting sun – a truly mystical experience. The ancient city of Petra was build by the Nabataeans and is rich with many architectural wonders and centuries-old tombs, theatres, temples, and sacrificial altars. All testament to the power of commerce in the desert.
The Acropolis If Greece is considered the cradle of civilization – of democracy, philosophy, poetry and literature – then the Acropolis of Athens is its symbolic heart. Rising high above the city of Athens, the flat-topped rock is a remarkable tribute to Athens, its people and an engineering wonder. The Parthenon, built in the 5th century BC, seems hollow during the day. But when lit up at night, life and vitality return to its dominating columns, recalling the age when this temple of Athena was the pinnacle of ancient Greece. The ravages of time, pollution and weather have taken their toll, but this World Heritage Site still stands as an example of architectural perfection.