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Thursday
Dec172015

5 Alternative Ancient Structures You Need To Visit

From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the huge sandstone blocks which make up Stonehenge, there are some ancient structures that have amassed unrivalled levels of fame, but this means some other equally impressive structures have gone largely unnoticed. Here are five that unfairly miss out on the limelight, but are more than worthy of a visit.  

Borobudur, Indonesiaflickr | Prayudi HartonoCompleted nearly 1200 years ago, this ancient structure is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. This huge structure is formed of a number of stacked up platforms, reaching a height of 35 meters, and while this is around 100 meters smaller than the pyramid of Giza, the intricate architecture and stonework makes up for it. 72 stone Buddha statues are seated at the top, casting watchful eyes over the surroundings, and Borobudur is still used yearly for the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, with pilgrims traveling to the temple to celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.
Interested in travelling to Indonesia? Frontier offers a number of projects available in the Southeast Asian nation, all of which can be found here.
Tikal, Guatemala

The Maya civilisation is well-written into history books, and the great level of sophistication which is always attributed to the Mayans is embodied in the ruins of the ancient city of Tikal. The city is believed to have played a key part in the political, economic and military activities of the Maya people, and some believe it was the capital of the powerful kingdom which has become so well-known. Today the ruins lie in the heart of the Guatemalan rainforest, and the peaks of 5 Mayan temples still protrude through the canopies that surround the city, with Tikal Temple IV being the tallest of these and also the tallest pre-Colombian structure still standing in the Americas today.    
The ancient city of Tikal is one of the sites visited during Frontier’s Central America Ethical Adventure Trail. You can find out more information here.
Derinkuyu, Turkey
flickr | Elena PleskevichFrom the exceptionally high to the exceptionally low, Derinkuyu is an underground city that stretches down 60 meters across a number of levels and is large enough to have once sheltered around 20,000 people, along with any livestock and food stores. It is believed to have been fully formed between 780-1180 AD, being used as shelter for Muslim Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine wars, and it continued to be used as shelter for various other groups after. Derinkuyu is currently the largest excavated underground city in the world, with around half of its area open to tourists, and is also, rather incredibly, connected to another city of its kind in Kaymakli via a five mile tunnel.
Angkor, Cambodia
This region of Cambodia once served as the center of the Khmer Empire, and the ruins of the great city are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Temples are littered throughout the areas, with the temple complex of Angkor Wat, or ‘Capital Temple’, being the largest religious monument in the world, while another temple, Ta Prohm, made an appearance in the Hollywood production, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.  However to truly appreciate the site in full a bike or tuktuk can be hired for a number of days, allowing travellers to explore and admire the lesser-known and less-visited temples in the region.
Interested in exploring Angkor? The site is visited during Frontier’s South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail, and information on this trail can be found on the Frontier website.
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
flickr | Mahesh KularatneThe Ancient City of Polonnaruwa was once the capital of Sri Lanka, and the ruins are now spread across a vast area, although what remains of the city today is only a small percentage of its original size. The city flourished under the leadership of King Parakrambahu, and much of the architectural brilliance and many of the intricate designs can still be seen. Some of the remains of the palace of King Parakramabahu can also be found within the ruins, which is believed to have once stood at 7-storeys high. Like Angkor, this sprawling city needs more than just a brief visit, with many travellers hiring bicycles to explore its vast area.  
Are you interested in visiting Sri Lanka? Frontier offers a number of projects on the Resplendent Island, all of which can be found here.

By Alistair Ross - Online Journalism Intern

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