18th July 2017

Did You Know Over 35 Million People Visit These Historical Destinations Every Year?

The world has so much to offer travellers, from natural wonders to man-made monuments. For many people, visiting such historic sites are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Here are our top five must-see historical destinations for your bucket list…

1. THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT

the Pyramids of Egypt

VISITORS PER YEAR: 14.7 MILLION

Perhaps the most famous of all historical sites in the world, the Pyramids of Egypt are considered by many to be seen once in a lifetime.
The three great pyramids are the most iconic; Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, and serve as tombs of pharaohs. Khufu, known as the Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the three, and the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

ADDISON LEE TOP TIP:

You won’t want to miss this one, jump in a taxi and head off. For the best photo opportunities, visit the Pyramids in late afternoon, after the tour groups have left for the day, and the morning haze has lifted! 

FACT OR FICTION:

The idea that slaves built the pyramids in Egypt has been circulating since Greek historian Herodotus reported it in the 5th century BC. It was confirmed as false when tombs containing the remains of the pyramid builders were found next to the pyramids at Giza. Being buried beside the divine Pharaohs would be the greatest honor, never granted to slaves. In addition, huge numbers of cattle bones excavated at Giza show that beef, a delicacy in Ancient Egypt, was a staple food of the builders. The builders of the pyramids were evidently highly skilled Egyptian craftsmen, not slaves as Hollywood or perhaps the Bible makes people think.

2. THE TAJ MAHAL

the Taj Mahal

VISITORS PER YEAR: 8 MILLION

The white mausoleum built in Agra, India, by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, houses the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Taj Mahal is built on the banks of the Yamuna River.

Equally as impressive as the building itself are the Gardens with raised pathways, trees, and fountains, and the complex also includes two outlying buildings made of red sandstone walls.

ADDISON LEE TOP TIP:

Travel from November to March to avoid the monsoon season and before the intense summer heat.

FACT OR FICTION:

One of the most incredible and yet grotesque legends surrounding the Taj Mahal is one involving dismemberment. It is believed that Shah Jahan ordered the fingers of those workers who spent 22 years building the incredible monument be cut off, so they would not be able to build anything more majestic than the Taj Mahal. It is also said that even the eyes of the craftsmen were taken from their sockets so they would never be able to witness anything more beautiful than what they had built.

3. THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

The Great Wall of China

VISITORS PER YEAR: 10.7 MILLION

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of brick, stone and sand by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huan, more than 2,300 years ago. The wall is 13,171 miles long and was built primarily to prevent invasion and protect trade from the Silk Road.

Considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the wall is well visited, receiving up to 70,000 tourists each day during peak season.

ADDISON LEE TOP TIP:

March – May is the best time to visit; ensure you travel early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds.

FACT OR FICTION:

There is a legend about a workman named Yi Kaizhan in the Ming Dynasty, who calculated 99,999 bricks would be needed to build the Jiayuguan Pass. His supervisor was sceptical and said if he miscalculated by even one brick, all the workmen would be punished with three years hard labour.

After the project was completed, a single brick was left behind the Xiwong city gate, however Yi Kaizhan said the brick was put there by a supernatural being to fix the wall – a tiny move would cause its collapse – so the brick stayed, and can still be found there today on the Jiayuguan Pass Tower.

4. MACHU PICCHU

Machu Picchu

VISITORS PER YEAR: 1.2 MILLION

One of the most recognised icons of Inca civilisation, Machu Picchu is an estate built in the 15th century in west Peru. The ruins are high in the mountains, 2,000 feet above the Urubamba River.

Over 400,000 tourists visit the “old mountain” every year, and if you are travelling to South America, walking the Inca Trail is on most tour guide’s must-see lists.

ADDISON LEE TOP TIP:

January and February are the wettest months – great for avoiding heavy crowds but be aware the hike is much harder.

FACT OR FICTION:

Archaeologists suggest Machu Picchu was built for astronomical observations. A specific stone at the highest part of the site, the Intihuatana stone, was used to accurately indicate the two equinoxes, as well as other celestial events. Local shamanic legends refer to this stone as a gateway to the spirit world – anyone who touched the stone with his forehead would open a vision to the spirit world.

5. THE ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS

The Acropolis of Athens

VISITORS PER YEAR: 1 MILLION

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel containing the remnants of many buildings and temples including the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and most famous of all, the Parthenon – dedicated to the Goddess Athena.

ADDISON LEE TOP TIP:

Even in the height of summer, when tourism is at its peak, visit before 9am to beat the hustle of the crowds. If you heading there from Heathrow Airport, flights leave muliple times a day. 

FACT OR FICTION:

The first King of Athens, Cecrops, organised a competition on the Acropolis between Posiedon, God of the Sea, and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, to see who would become the patron God of the city by giving the best present.

Posiedon struck his trident into the ground and a salt water well sprang forth. Athena touched the ground and an olive tree sprouted. The people of Athens decided the olive tree was of more use than the salt water spring, and so chose Athena as the patron God, naming the city Athena (Athens).

The temples of the Erechtheum are on the spot of this battle between Athena and Posiedon, and you can see a hole in the floor inside where the olive tree sprouted, beside three marks on the ground where Posiedon’s trident struck the earth.

 

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