In this gallery we pay homage to some of the largest, most impressive, and most important construction projects in history. They have remained standing even several centuries after they were completed and have withstood the ravages of war and other large-scale conflict. The most amazing of all, these longstanding structures were built without the benefit of modern labor-saving equipment such as bulldozers.
Click for more of the awe-inspiring ancient constructed landmarks that still stand today.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. Archaeologists presume that it was built from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Despite that, no one is certain why this ring of standing stones was built. Each stone weighs between two to four tons, and are believed to have been moved by lifting and carrying them by using sledges or ropes. Apart from the superhuman effort to lift, carry, and construct the stones, the prehistoric men also built them with extraordinary precision. The stones were aligned accurately with the movements of the sun and moon with specific emphasis on the summer and winter solstices. No wonder this is a truly amazing legacy from the Neolithic age.
Italy has lots of ancient Roman landmarks to offer (and thankfully most of them are well-preserved), and Rome’s Coliseum is one of the most renowned ancient landmarks. Like many Roman buildings, the Coliseum was erected as a celebration of a military victory. An estimated 50,000 to 80,000 spectators could be accommodated by this colossal amphitheater, which was built from 70 to 80 AD.
You cannot recall Egypt without mentioning the world-famous Great Pyramid of Giza, located on the outskirts of the capital Cairo. Among the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, the the Great Pyramid is the oldest and the only one still existing. The pyramid complex was built from 2560 to 2540 BC, and archaeologists believe that they were built to house the remains of the Pharaohs who dominated ancient Egypt.
The Great Pyramid was the crowning glory of ancient Egyptian constructing achievement, a perfection after creating several pyramid designs in the past. Despite the absence of sufficient tools during the construction, the Great Pyramid has an astonishingly accurate geometric form.
One of the greatest ancient landmarks of the world, the construction of the Great Wall (or Great Wall of China) began some 2,000 years ago and was still being built during the 16th century. It is a series of fortifications which measures 5,500 miles long. However, recent archaeological surveys done by the China’s state cultural heritage department have asserted that the Great Wall is actually double that length. It is believed that an estimated two to three million men lost their lives during its construction.
The Great Wall is a great military fortification as well as a gesture of an imperial power. And up to this day, no one has been able to surpass or equal the Great Wall as the world’s longest construction building.
There are a lot of impressive ancient and medieval cathedrals out there, but the York Minster Cathedral makes the list here for some special reasons. It took 252 years (from 1220 to 1472) to complete this massive cathedral, whose construction was spearheaded by Archbishop Walter de Gray. It features the best and biggest example of medieval stained glass, and three towers measuring nearly 200-feet tall. It took over two and half centuries to complete because of the lack of sophisticated building equipment, nevertheless the York Minster Cathedral showcases the amazing example of medieval ingenuity and craftsmanship.
Angkor Wat is the prime example of the early Khmer architecture in Cambodia, built by the Khmer Empire during the 12th century. Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument, with a site which measures 1,626,000 square meters (or 162.6 hectares). Originally built as a place of Hindu worship, the Angkor Wat gradually started to function as a Buddhist temple, and it has done so up to the present day.
Angkor Wat features the two fundamental plans of Khmer temple which consists of the temple mountain and the galleried temple. Although Angkor Wat was somewhat neglected following the 16th century and had been engulfed by jungles for many decades, it cannot be denied that Angkor Wat features the greatest example of ancient Khmer architecture.
Probably the most iconic Mayan landmark, Chichen Itza is a massive pre-colonial settlement built by the Maya people. This city was probably built around 600 AD, and covers a land area measuring six square miles. Its stepped pyramid, the Temple of Kukulkan, also known as “El Castillo,” has become Chichen Itza’s most recognizable structure. Apart from the pyramid, other structures such as columns and arcades were also sacred to the Maya people.
The Parthenon is one of Greece’s most iconic structures and perches on the Acropolis hill over Athens. It was built during the 5th century BC as a tribute to the Greek goddess Athena. This is one of the finest examples of Greek architecture, which has lent a profound influence on Roman architectures as well as later styles such as Neoclassical. Its construction and precision never fails to astonish considering that most people during that time still lived in caves.
Nothing can match the awesomeness and drama of Petra. The most amazing thing about Petra — especially its renowned facade — is that it was beautifully carved straight from a huge rock which is situated in the middle of the Jordan desert. The facade measures 100 feet in width and 141 feet in height. This architectural jewel was possibly built around 4th century BC by the Arab Nabataeans, and remains Jordan’s top tourist attraction.
The Sacsayhuaman is an Inca citadel located on the northern outskirts of Cusco, a city in Peru. This walled city/fortification is amazing because it was built entirely without the use of cement or any other adhesive to bind the stones together. Instead, the stones were carefully cut and carved to fit them together securely and tightly. How the stones were cut and fitted remain uncertain, but it is believed that a 30,000-strong workforce helped to construct this massive project.