There’s something impressive about wandering amongst the relics of ancient empires and their accomplishments, be it Inca ruins in Peru or hectic streets in India. Touching the remnants of history and learning about ancient civilizations can add extra depth to your travel – so here are some suggestions for 5 ancient cities of the world to include in your trip…
Continuously inhabited since 3,500 BC, the city of Delhi can lay claim to being one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s the capital of India, a huge and chaotic urban sprawl. To get a feel for this city’s fascinating past, head to the old town and lose yourself in the jumble of mediaeval alleyways, streets and bazaars. Historical highlights include the famous red fort, a vivid red sandstone structure, built a mere 465 years ago! It’s simple to include Delhi in your trip!
High in the Andes, the ancient city of Cusco was once capital of the Inca Empire. Today it’s a centre of Quechua culture, a thriving tourist hub and the oldest inhabited city in South America. Tour the Inca-built walls and colonial buildings, enter the ancient churches and join the locals in San Pedro Market. It’s the colourful gateway for trips into Peru's Sacred Valley and the starting point for trekking (or taking the train) to the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu.
The colourful sights and smells of Varanasi make it one of the most fascinating places in India. Set on the banks of the Ganges, and dating from 1,000 BC, it’s the holiest of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities and followers believe that dying here brings release from the cycle of death and rebirth. Stroll along the stone ghats, meet brightly painted holy men and discover the winding alleys of the old town – don’t worry about getting lost, sooner or later you’ll end up back at the river!
If you can fight your way through the smog, Beijing offers a chance to sort through the history of China’s great empire. Officially more than 3000 years old, the ancient city was home to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City, a magnificent royal palace on a huge scale, lies at the centre of attractions, whilst you’ll also want to discover Tiananmen Square, the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium and restaurants serving delicious Peking duck. No visit would be complete without heading north to spend a day at the snake like Great Wall.
Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire dates back to the middle of the 12th century and was home to over 1 million people. A vast site stretching over 400km2 of lush jungle (hiring a tuk tuk and private driver is a great idea), the breath-taking temples of Angkor Wat and Bayon amongst other smaller temples are a likely highlight of any trip to Cambodia. Early risers can visit from 5am to see the beautiful sunrise but you might also want to consider visiting at sunset for smaller crowds.
If you want to add some historical flavour to your trip we can help you visit any of these destinations. Our travel specialists can put together a fully tailor-made holiday to suit your style and budget, or recommend a good group tour if you want to travel with others. To get planning, simply call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.