The thing about landmarks is that there are tons and tons of them. The world is a huge place, and it’s full of amazing things. Everywhere you go, there are new sites to see and new mysteries and wonders to explore.
Nobody will ever see all the great landmarks in the world in one lifetime, but it’s good to have a general knowledge of the world’s wonders. Not only does knowing landmarks help guide you to having better travel experiences in the real world, it also makes you look smart, helps you understand history, and much more.
In this article, we’ll share our list of 10 famous landmarks that you should know about (but probably don’t).
10 Famous Landmarks You Should Know
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
Location: Hohenschwangau, Germany
The Neuschwangstein Castle (pictured above) is a revival castle—not meant for warfare—built in the German state of Bavara in the latter days of the 1800’s. It was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who borrowed heavily to finance the construction which lasted nearly 30 years. Today, the castle is considered one of the most beautiful structures in the world, is operated by a foundation for public viewing, and is visited by millions of people annually.
2. The Nazca Lines
Location: southern Peru
If you ever fly over a large, arid plateau in the southern reaches of Andes Mountains, you may see hundreds of huge geometric and animal shapes depicted on the ground below you, laid out in stone and soil, some of them hundreds of feet across. The geoglyphs, as they are properly called, show figures such as humans, birds, fish, monkeys, trees, jaguars, and many others. These figures, called the Nazca Lines, are believed to have been created by the Nazca culture some 1500 years ago. The purpose of creating these giant images, which must have taken an incredible amount of labor, is still unknown.
Location: Ma’an Governate, Jordan
Petra is an ancient and abandoned city and archeological site in southern Jordan. It is thought to have been constructed around 2300 years ago by the Nabataean society as the capitol of their nation. The city is famous for it’s architecture that was cut directly from the solid rock walls of the mountains. You may recognize this is the location of some Indiana Jones adventures.
4. The Moai
Location: Easter Island (Chile), Pacific Ocean
You probably would recognize the iconic Moai statues of Easter Island—those 10-30 foot tall statues depicting human-like forms. The statues—all 887 of them—confused scientists for years. No one could understand how they had been built and moved by hand, since many of them weighed over 50 tons. It is now believed that the statues were moved with rollers made of wood. This may be the reason that Easter Island is completely deforested to this day.
5. The Sphinx
Location: Giza, Egypt
Ok, here’s one that most people should know (if you don’t know this one, you have a lot of studying to do). The Great Phinx is a massive statue—one of the largest in the world—that lies adjacent to the (more famous) Pyramids at Giza. It is believed to have been built some 4500 hundred years ago, making it one of the older structures on the planet. Who exactly built it, and for what purpose, is still up for debate.
Location: Southern Sichuan Province, China
This 233 feet-tall statue of the Buddha, located in China, took almost 100 years to carve, and was completed around the year 813. It is the tallest ancient statue in the world, and was carved directly out of a cliff face at the confluence of three rivers. The statue, which is said to have been originally built to protect shipping on the river, uses a system of carved drainage to minimize weather. The system still functions today, and the statue brings many thousands of visitors every year from around the world.
7. Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Location: Northern Territory, Australia
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive formation of sandstone located in central Australia. It stands out more than 1000 feet from the flat expanse of the surrounding outback, is nearly 6 miles in circumference, and is a sacred site to the aboriginal people of the area. The surrounding region is rich in archeological sites and rock art. Geologically, the formation is known as an inselberg: an isolated formation that stands out from eroded, flat lowlands in a dry and hot region.
8. Mont Saint-Michel
Location: Normandy, France
Mont Saint Michel is an island/peninsula in the northeast of France that served as a military stronghold and is now a monastery, as it has been for the last 1200 years. The site can only be reached at low tide, when a natural causeway is exposed. Today, it is one of France’s most recognizable sites, and draws millions of visitors each year.
Location: southwestern France
The caves of Lascaux are world-renowned for ancient paintings, some of which may be more than 17,000 years old. The caves were discovered by an 18-year old French boy in 1940, and were soon refitted to allow thousands of visitors per day. However, the caves have since been closed to visitors in an effort to control humidity and other factors that are damaging the artworks. Legend has it that upon visiting the caves and viewing the stunning art shown there, Pablo Picasso said “We have invented nothing.”
10. Get Offline and Find Your Own
Alright, we’re cheating you out of a real #10. But that’s because we want the best for you, and the real thing is best. Many people look at images of the grandest landmarks in the world and forget to go out in their backyard and appreciate what is nearby. Even the most boring-seeming regions of the world have fascinating and beautiful things to see—especially if you’re willing to work to see them. For example, Brainscape is based in New York State. A few of the landmarks that are nearly in our backyard include the Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Central Park, the Great Smokey Mountains, and many more.
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