The World’s Most Mysterious Monuments and Who Built Them

You already know how much we love sharing interesting stories about travel and history. And what’s one thing that connects these two topics? The mysterious historical monuments that you can find in so many popular tourist hot spots. We love to admire them, take pictures, and enjoy the view. But do we ever stop and wonder how they were built in the first place? Or what their initial purpose was? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss today. So, join us on today’s journey as we discuss the world’s most mysterious monuments, who built them, and most importantly — why they built them.

Stonehenge, England

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Let’s start with one of the most iconic and mysterious monuments of all time — Stonehenge. Rising from the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England, this is a beautiful reminder of the mysteries and wonders of ancient times. And when I say mysteries, I really mean that. Because to this day — we aren’t sure who or how they built Stonehenge. This circular arrangement of massive standing stones, topped by horizontal lintels, has puzzled archaeologists and historians for centuries. We don’t even know what its exact purpose is. Was this a religious site or temple? A burial ground? Astronomical observatory? We might never know for sure.

But the most recent archeological evidence does however suggest that it was most likely some sort of ceremonial site that was also used to observe the starts. Also, there’s a theory about who could’ve built it — the indigenous peoples of the British Isles, possibly the ancestors of the Celts or other prehistoric groups. The methods they used to transport and erect the massive stones are still a source of speculation and wonder. How did such ancient civilizations have such advanced craftsmanship? There are so many questions that still linger.

The Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt

Guarding the Giza Plateau for over four millennia, the Great Sphinx is a symbol of ancient Egypt’s advanced civilization and mysterious craftsmanship. Carved from a single limestone outcrop, the Sphinx portrays the body of a lion with the head of a human, believed by some to represent the Pharaoh Khafre. The combination of a lion’s body and a human head is thought to represent strength, wisdom, and divine authority. In ancient Egyptian mythology, sphinxes were often associated with protection and guardianship.

Needless to say, this is also one of the most recognizable landmarks on earth, and with that — also one of the most mysterious ones. We’re still not sure when it was built, but most historians believe that it was during the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre (c. 2558–2532 BCE), who also oversaw the construction of the nearby Pyramid of Khafre.

You have to understand one thing — this monument is MASSIVE. It measures approximately 240 feet in length and stands about 66 feet tall. How on earth were they able to build something so majestic with such limited resources? Also — look at when it was built. It’s standing strong almost five THOUSANDS years later. The original purpose of the Great Sphinx however, is still debated among historians and archaeologists. Some theories suggest that it was built as a symbol of royal power and protection. But others believe that it also had religious or astronomical significance. Especially considering that it is positioned to face directly eastward, towards the rising sun on the vernal equinox.

Easter Island Moai, Chile

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We already have a whole separate article about the Easter Island, however — let’s take a look at one of the most iconic landmarks that you can find here — the Moai statues. Scattered across the remote island of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the enigmatic Moai statues continue to fascinate researchers. Carved from volcanic rock by the indigenous Rapa Nui people between the 13th and 16th centuries. These colossal figures range in size from a few feet to over 30 feet tall. And they are believed to represent either ancestors of the tribe, or powerful tribal chiefs. But we’re still not completely sure.

We have already mentioned that they were craved from volcanic rock. But it wasn’t just any volcanic rock — we’re talking about tuff — a type of rock that’s particularly soft and easy to work with. Most of them were sculpted at the Rano Raraku quarry, located near the island’s coast. And then transported to their actual location. And considering that they weigh several tons, that’s quite impressive. So, how exactly did the indigenous people of Rapa Nui move these monuments?

Researchers believe that the statues were moved using a combination of sledges, ropes, and manpower. However, it is still a subject of debate among archaeologists. The moai were then erected on stone platforms called ahu, which served as both ceremonial sites and burial grounds. Each statue faced inland, overlooking the island and its inhabitants. This particular positioning was thought to connect the living with their powerful ancestors.

Nazca Lines, Peru

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Of course, this list wouldn’t feel complete without mentioning the Nazca Lines. As most of you probably already know, the Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert of southern Peru. They were first spotted from the air in the 1920s by Peruvian archaeologist Toribio Mejia Xesspe. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s when they gained international attention after being photographed from an airplane by American explorer Paul Kosok and later studied extensively by German mathematician Maria Reiche. But what are these geoglyphs exactly? They consist of hundreds of individual figures, ranging from simple lines and geometric shapes to more complex animal and plant designs.

They vary in size as well, with some of them measuring just a couple of feet, and others stretching across hundreds of yards. The largest of these lines is the famous hummingbird and spider, which is over 660 feet long. These geoglyphs were created by removing the dark-colored surface rocks to reveal the lighter-colored ground beneath, creating lines and shapes that contrast with the surrounding desert landscape. And even though we know how they were created — their purpose remains a mystery among archaeologists and historians. Most people, however, believe that this was some sort of ceremonial site.

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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