All over the globe, from Italy to Zimbabwe, civilizations have left behind impressive monuments and structures that attest to their former glory. Appearing in literature, songs, and films, these mystical sculptures, sacred religious sites, royal palaces, fortifications, ancient centers of commerce, ports, and tombs are all we have left of some of history’s most illustrious societies. While some sites were lost for centuries, engulfed by overgrown jungles, others never fell out of use. Either way, these awe-inspiring places are sure to inspire travelers looking for adventure and a connection to the past.
1. ROMAN FORUM
As the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome, and in the Ancient World, all roads led to the Roman Forum. Spread out in the valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Roman Forum was the center of the Roman Empire from about 500 B.C. to 400 A.D. All aspects of public life took place here: triumphal processions, elections, public speeches, criminal trials, gladiatorial matches, and commercial affairs. Here, Marc Anthony delivered Julius Caesar’s funeral oration and Augustus built the Temple to the Deified Caesar. In 2011, the Tempio di Vesta, where the vestal virgins lived, reopened to the public, granting visitors access to this sacred site.