There is something about mysterious places that attracts the curious, imaginative, and adventurous side of any person. This world is not short on strange and mysterious places that dare us to solve their challenging puzzles –a way of discovering the story and purpose behind them.
Travelers have always loved visiting these mysterious sites looking for inspiration, ancient knowledge, nirvana, or simply to sightsee and explore. Here are the top 5 mysterious places you should visit to get a glimpse of a forgotten civilization.
Stonehenge is a megalithic monument on the Salisbury Plain in Southern England, composed mainly of thirty upright stones –called sarsens– that support thirty lintels mounted horizontally on the top of each sarsen forming a perfect circle.
Each sarsen weighs over 45 tons and measures over 10 feet tall and each lintel weigh over 6 tons. There is also an inner circle composed of similar stones and constructed in a similar method. Up to this day, we still don’t know the exact purpose of this mysterious place. Was it an astronomical observatory, a religious site, or a supernatural place?
An interesting fact is that Stonehenge is angled with the equinoxes and the solstices. When the sun rises on those specific days, the horizon appears to be perfectly placed between gaps in the megaliths. Why? We still don’t know…
It is believed the Druids built Stonehenge between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago – even before the first metal tools were invented. So, how did they carry those huge stones from the quarries? How were they carved and erected? We have so many assumptions to all these questions but still to this day it is just a mystery.
Nazca Lines are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs in the world. They are located in the Nazca Desert in Peru. Over 300 figures made of straight lines, geometric shapes and animal depictions are etched on the surface of the desert –by removing the rocks and displaying the sand underneath– creating a vast composition that can only be seen properly from the air.
The lines were first discovered in the 1920s when commercial airplanes began flying over Peru. Most experts agree the Nazca Indians, who lived in the region between 200 BC and 600 AD, were responsible for creating this mysterious site.
There are so many questions about how or why they did it. How did the Nazca people manage to build so many precise lines and figures? Were they able to see the figures from the sky? Are they roads, astronomical observatories, a giant map, art? Read a previous post with some of the Nazca theories here.
Easter Island –also known as Rapa Nui in the indigenous language– lies in the South Pacific between Chile and Tahiti, and is considered one of the most isolated inhabited islands on Earth.
But the mystery is not the island itself; it’s the hundreds of megalithic human-like statues that face inland from the shore. These enigmatic statues, called moai, were carved out volcanic ash and can weigh up to 165 tons with almost 22 meters in height.
Archaeologists believe that the moai statues symbolize the spirits of Easter Island’s most important inhabitants. But beyond that: who built these statues? Did they have a function or purpose? How were they transported from the quarry to their platforms (up to 25 km away)? And why is only one-third of the moai on their platforms, or ahus, while the rest still lay on the quarry?
Still, to this day we know little about these long-faced statues, but we know for sure this mysterious site is an exciting place to visit.
The Great Pyramids
Even though the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt are one of the most famous places on Earth –visited by millions of tourist each year– they still remain as one of the most mysterious things made by mankind. Pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs of the Ancient Egyptian Dynasties as a place to depart peacefully into the afterlife.
Although Egypt counts with 93 pyramids, the most famous are the Giza Pyramids. Khufu’s Pyramid –built circa 4650 BC– is the biggest and most grandiose of all.
Its perfect square base measures 230 meters on each side, its four sides face the four cardinal points precisely, and it has an angle of 52 degrees. Its original height was 146.5 meters until Ottoman Turks stole some of its fine limestones to build mosques in the 15th century, reducing its height to 137 meters.
There have been many breakthroughs in solving the mystery of the Great Pyramids, but still, there are so many details we don’t know. How did the Egyptians manage to build these pyramids with practically zero mathematical errors and a perfect ratio? How were the over 13 million 5-tons stones transported? How were the interior shafts so perfectly aligned with the stars?
Teotihuacan, known as ‘The City of the Gods” or “Where Men Become Gods”, is located in the valley of Teotihuacan, 30 miles north of Mexico City. Teotihuacan used to be a thriving city and ceremonial center that predated the Aztecs by several centuries.
It was Mexico’s biggest ancient city at its peak –200,000 people– and the sixth-largest city in the world in 600 AD. By 650 AD, Teotihuacan began declining sharply and was almost completely abandoned around 750 AD. Why did this happen? No one knows why.
This city was larger and more advanced than any European city of the time, its civilization was contemporary with that of ancient Rome (and lasted longer –more than 500 years), but still, they managed to disappear without a trace.
How can an advanced civilization leave no trace of a writing system, communication method, or cultural background? Why was Teotihuacan abandoned?
There is no doubt that this world is full of mysteries and that we will always be looking for ways to solve its puzzles. As long as they exist we will always visit these mysterious places, looking for answers on our own.
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