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16 Underrated Historical Monuments That Should Be Wonders of the Ancient World

Updated December 15, 2020 16.9k votes 2.3k voters 92.0k views16 items

List RulesUpvote the destination you would most love to call a Wonder.

There are only seven official Wonders of the Ancient World, but considering all of the amazing things you can find on planet Earth, it's a true wonder there aren't more. There are tons of other ancient wonders that are intricate in their execution and stunning in their size that also have great historical significance. While there are plenty of modern structures worthy of the moniker Wonder, the ancient places below are truly sites of awe-inspiring beauty.

Among these ancient wonders of the world that didn't make the list - the official one, anyway - you'll find the ancient Persian capital city of Persepolis, the monumental stunner that is Machu Picchu in Peru, the majestic pyramids of Meroe in modern Sudan, and ancient Rome's own Colosseum. Surely, all these amazing monuments are things that should have been ancient wonders, just as they stun the modern eye. There have been numerous lists of 'New' Seven Wonders Of The World in recent years, though they don't always agree.

  • Photo: Diego Delso / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    This stunning city served as a crossroads between many different trade routes in the late 1st century BCE, but what makes this city truly unforgettable is its amazing architecture. Many of its tombs and other buildings are made with intricate stonework. While some buildings are free standing, many are carved out of the side of mountains and rockfaces. It also has a complex hydraulic engineering system throughout the city. The people that lived here during its early years were known for their skilled craftsmanship of textiles, metals, and pottery. 

    In modern times, the city is most recognized from the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The city still has gorgeous temples, including Al-Khazneh, or "the Treasury." Builders of this ancient city combined diverse cultural influences from the many travelers residing there or passing through. Because of this, Petra features a diversity of buildings, ranging from theaters to dining rooms, cut from the living rock.

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  • Photo: David Moe / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    This stunning complex located in the mountains of Peru is comprised of 200 religious and ceremonial structures. Perhaps once a sacred retreat for Incan royals, Machu Picchu boasted incredible masonry techniques - its granite blocks were fitted together without mortar - and even a sacred sundial. The city was eventually abandoned after the Spanish brutally slaughtered the Inca, but it was uncovered again in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham. In 1981, Peru declared the site as a historical sanctuary, and two years later the United Nationals Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization named the site as a World Heritage Site.  

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  • Photo: Jakub Halan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Angkor Wat was the former epicenter of the Khmer kingdom in what is now known as Cambodia. This massive temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world. The temple complex and the surrounding city began construction in the 9th century (not technically 'the Ancient World,' fine) and its main temple was erected in the 12th century. Khmer King Suryavarman II transformed the temple from a monument to the Hindu god Vishnu to a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century.

    The complete complex is absolutely massive. It is about 402 acres, equipped with a 213-foot-tall tower and surrounded by a giant moat. The nearby city was also quite large at its height - nearly a million people lived there. 

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  • Photo: Jace Grandinetti / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Now known as the Colosseum, this giant amphitheater in Rome began construction under the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the 70s CE. His son Titus finished it up a few years later, celebrating with 100 days of games and fights. The huge arena inside was covered in sand, perhaps dyed red to conceal blood, and played host to gladiatorial combats, sea battles (they flooded the arena for these), and wild animal fights. Also called the Flavian Amphitheater - named for Vespasian and Titus, whose family name was Flavius - it could seat between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. 

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