Over the course of my life I’ve visited many interesting places around the world. Some of them have shocked me, others have disappointed me, and many others have left me perplexed. From cities, touristic sites, buildings, to natural wonders there has always been something in every country i’ve visited that has left me wanting to stay. When somebody asks me which is my favorite city, country or landmark I always wonder what to answer. Sometimes I think of a whole country, other times I think of whole experiences (India comes to mind). For now I would like to give you my Top 10 most impressive Tourist Sites I’ve ever visited. It may not be my best list, but its as close as you can get for now.
10.-Herculaneum (Herculaneum, Italy)
Even more than Pompei, Herculaneum is a site that really shocked me. Pompei may be a larger city and more well known, but Herculaneum was left more intact by the lava that was from the Vesuvio’s eruption. Standing there and watching the layout of the city leaves you imagining a scene of how it might have felt to be running towards the beach in order to save yourself and not making it. Seeing the actual place where hundreds were found after trying to run from the fire is something that leaves me in complete awe.
9.-Roman Forum (Rome, Italy)
This is where it all happened. When I went to Rome the main site that comes to mind is the Colosseum, but once you see the size and position the Forum has by its side you are left with no choice but be impressed. Thinking that this was the center of all action in the world in the times of the Roman Empire is something that history geeks will appreciate more than watching the more “mainstream” sites like the once mentioned Colosseum. The Roman Forum is all I could have ever imagined. Impressive!
8.-Church of Tonantzintla (Cholula, Mexico)
This is a little known place in Mexico that is as impressive as the bigger sites on this list. Mexico was once the cradle of multiple civilizations that went from warriors to astronomers. Once the spaniards invaded and took the lands there was a mixture of races that left the whole country in an identity crisis. Even though today Mexico wants and likes to be called a land of spaniard conquistadors reality is that native civilizations are still present and the living majority. This Church is a brilliant example of the mix that succeeded the colonization of the Spaniards. The style of the church is basically a fusion between colonial architecture and pre-hispanic design principles. Astonishing!
7.-Chichen Itza (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
This is another place that impresses me for its sheer grandeur and beautiful design. As far as pre-hispanic civilizations go, non can argue against the brilliance of the Mayans. Their citys and pyramids rank among the most beautiful in the world as the attention to detail is of great importance as well as the position with the stars and moon. Chichen Itza is the mother of all cities and the level of conservation and care that the Mexican Government has put to this heritage site is of the highest level. The size of the complex is also something to note as very much of its original settings are kept intact including the impressive cenote’s.
6.-The Great Pyramid’s of Giza (Giza, Egypt)
No one can argue with this site. The Pyramid’s of Giza are among the most impressive pieces of history that can be touched and experienced first hand. One of the things that impresses me the most is the reason the monuments were built in the first place. The Pyramids are giant tombs for larger than life figures. The interiors were filled with traps to alienate thieves and scoundrels. The complex of the great pyramids (the only original seven wonders of the world site that is still with us) is large and has an interesting layout. The little things also impress, one example would be the boat that was found at the base of one of the pyramids. Why would you find this here?
5.-Akshardham Temple (Delhi, India)
This is one of the most surprising inclusions in my list as it is probably the newest of all the sites that conform this index. Akshardham is a Hindu Temple that encompasses religion and Indian Culture to the max as its beauty really goes beyond any description anybody could give you. Inside it is prohibited to take pictures. I don’t know if this is to perserve the sacredness of the place or to make business with the local photographers, but the thing is that having no visual or tangible evidence of my visit to this place makes it more sacred in my mind. A place to experience.
4.-Ginkaku-Ji Temple (Kyoto, Japan)
Kinkaku-Ji is often most remembered for its golden temple by the water, but Ginkaku-Ji ups the golden pavilion with its beautiful zen gardens and peaceful atmosphere. Walking this beautiful place is like non other and is one more reason to love the city of Kyoto. Ginkaku-Ji (Silver Pavilion) is a place where you can just stare at the peacefulness that the whole complex evokes. Even if the temple itself is not as special as its more famous brother, the rest of the place has the it factor that makes everything as memorable as any of the sites listed.
3.-La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain)
Not many places in the world leave you wanting to know what the finished product would had looked like. La Sagrada Familia, Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece is both a work of art and a modern architectural and engineering marvel. Standing by the larger than life pillars that hold the main chapel is one of the most astonishing moments in any of my travels. Lets not forget that even though Gaudi left the place unfinished, it’s still being constructed by donations, charities and entrance fees to the site. If Barcelona was adorned by Gaudi’s work, its only fitting that the city continues to fund the construction of his most ambitious project.
2.-Neushwanstein Castle (Fussen, Germany)
Mad King Ludwig was indeed crazy, he was so crazy that he built this castle. A castle that has inspired many including Walt Disney. Disney was sure to include a version of this castle in his theme parks and movies as part of his logo. As you close in on Fussen on the train, you can see Neushwanstein a far. Its such an impressive site that you just can’t wait to see it up close. Being a musician and knowing that this castle was made as a homage to the great Richard Wagner makes it extra special. The place is unfinished, Ludwig only lived 172 days in this monstrous castle and was never intended to be other than a place for homage. Its a beautiful site that is both awesome from the inside as from the outside. Glorious.
1.-Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
My favorite place is still the Taj Mahal. The beauty and flawless design of this monument dedicated to love is something that intrigued me before I laid a foot in it and still managed to exceed my expectations. I stayed in the complex about 4 hours taking pictures of every possible angle to capture the beauty of every detail. Even though the heat was intolerable and there was more people than I would have liked, it still was a pleasure to be sitting in front of such a wonder. One of my favorite moments is crossing the gate and glancing at the main temple for the first time, a post card moment no doubt about it!