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Lesser-Known Wonders of the World

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From incredible feats of construction somehow pulled off by ancient cultures, to stunningly beautiful and age-old structures, there’s something awe-inspiring about every place on this list. They may not be the wonders of the world that we know and love, but they are equally impressive—and slightly less touristy, too.
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Normally a 1-2 night stay in Goreme is recommended to revel in the volcanic moonscape lands and fairy chimneys of the Cappadocian region. If you’re really short on time, though, and don’t have plans to return to Turkey anytime soon, book a day...
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Osman Ben Affan St, Doursoumian bldg, P.O.Box 11-4215, بعلبك، Lebanon
I went to Lebanon in spring to visit friends. But also because in the back of my head I thought, "This might be the last time that I'll be able to safely see Lebanon intact for a while." While car bombs had gone off in Beirut in recent weeks, and...
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Maharashtra 431117, India
The 30 Caves at Ajanta ("the finest surviving examples of Indian painting") are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The Caves of Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut...
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Kalabaka 422 00, Greece
Meteora means "suspended in air" in Greek. The town of Meteora, about a 5-hour drive north of Athens in Thessaly, Greece, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site: six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on enormous rock pinnacles that rise up to...
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The Torre de Hércules (or Tower of Hercules), a stone lighthouse perched at the edge of town, is the oldest Roman-built lighthouse still in use today. It’s been altered a bit—the original tower had an external staircase open to the elements, but...
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Khoms, Libya
Some of the best preserved, most intact Roman ruins I've ever seen. The location, about 80 miles east of Tripoli, is amazing—overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
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Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines
Still in use today, the Ifugao Rice Terraces were carved into the hillsides of Ifugao Province by hand some 2,000 years ago, and are fed by an elaborate irrigation system that captures water from the forests above. While many people explore this...
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Sigiriya sits in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high. According to an ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the site was selected by King Kasyapa (477–495 C.E.) for his new capitol. He built his palace on the top of this...
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Shizhong, Leshan, Sichuan, China
I didn't know what to expect from the largest stone Buddha in the world. But here is some good perspective. Those people at the front are maybe HALF of one of his toes. The place was incredibly spiritual, even with the thousands of tourists in the...
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Sacsayhuaman is an impressive Inca fortress on a steep hill that overlooks all of Cusco. The ruins are humongous, but archeologists believe that the original site was as much as four times larger. What remains today are the impressive outer walls...
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City Center Inside Seven Olives Hotel | Next To The reception, Lalibela 1260, Ethiopia
There are 11 churches in total at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lalibela. Built in the 12th century by King Lalibela, these churches were and are a sacred pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia. Because these churches are still...
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Campeche, Mexico
Of the many ruins I've visited in Mexico, those of Calakmul have been by far the best. Why? Because this site is largely still covered in jungle. Not many tourists visit the ruins here either. Located only 22 miles from the Guatemalan border in...