You Won't Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight

You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight

Jennifer Conerly - November 17, 2017

The study of modern civilization begins with learning how people began to abandon their nomadic existence and embrace a more sedentary life. As people were learning how to grow food and produce resources more efficiently, this allowed them to stay in one place for longer. As people began to form the first permanent settlements, an increase in population, food production, and division of labor created the first civilizations. Even though there were settlements before then, the first cities were settled around 3,000 BCE in the river valleys of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India.

An increase in population, food production, and the division of labor allowed these first cities to grow, creating the first civilizations. Eventually, these cities grew larger, and they created the first empires. Of all of the ancient empires, the Roman empire is perhaps the most significant because they spread their territories over such a vast area and created permanent settlements. A common theme in many cities of Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia that were once part of the Roman empire is that they have some type of ruins left over from the Roman period. Even as the first cities fell or they lost their influence, later generations recognized the significance of their locations. Over the centuries, their locations have slightly changed, and their names have been changed, but the evidence of ancient civilizations are still there. Many modern cities were built around the ruins of these first ancient cities, where they can still be seen today and have become popular tourist attractions.

The following photographs are the remains of ancient cities that exist among modern-day life. While there are many other locations of ancient ruins, these ancient ruins are located either in the middle of or very nearby the modern cities of today. Many of them will be more familiar by their modern names, but being able to see these ancient ruins in modern-day cities gives us a perspective on how long these places have been settled and how those settlements contribute to their history.

You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
The Bamiyan Valley (modern-day Bamyan, Afghanistan). A view of the city of Bamyan and the Bamiyan Valley. The Bamiyan Valley was part of the Kushan Empire that was founded in the first century CE, and its location on the Silk Road made it a vital trading center. It was also the site of a Hindu-Buddhist monastery from the second century to the seventh century. Colossal Buddha statutes were constructed in the fourth and fifth century in the mountains overlooking the town. The Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001. Photographed by Graciela Gonzalez Brigas, June 16, 2005. Copyright by UNESCO. http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/109141.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Philippopolis (modern-day Plovdiv, Bulgaria). The ancient stadium of Philippopolis. Plovdiv has been settled since the sixth millennium BCE. It was conquered by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, in the 4th century BCE and he renamed the city after himself. Photographed by Rivigan, July 20, 2017. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARomanstadiumplovdiv.jpg.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Chang’an (modern-day Xi’an, People’s Republic of China). A city wall gate castle in Xi’an. The starting point of the Silk Road, Xi’an is one of the oldest cities in China and has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. A protective wall around the city was constructed under Emperor Hui, the second emperor of the Han dynasty, in the 2nd century BCE. Xi’an is also the location of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s infamous Terracotta Army. Photographed by Jamguo, May 6, 2004. Wikipedia Commons.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:XiAn_CityWall_SouthGate3.jpg.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Qufu, People’s Republic of China. The Apricot Platform in the central courtyard of the Confucius Temple, Qufu, People’s Republic of China. The city of Qufu has many historical sites that show the history of the city and the area around it dating back to the Shang dynasty. It was also the capital of the Zhou vassal state of Lu during the Spring and Autumn period. It is well-known for its Temple of Confucius, the largest temple dedicated to the philosopher in East Asia. After his death in 479 BCE, Confucius’ home was dedicated as a temple in honor of his work and legacy. Although the original house was removed from the temple during a restoration in the 7th century, it has been well-maintained and restored over the centuries, with fifteen major renovations and countless other repairs. It has become a large funerary complex where Confucius and over 100,000 of his descendants are buried. Photographed by Rolf Müller, April 21, 2005. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Confuciustempleapricotplatform.jpg.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Thebes (modern-day Luxor, Egypt). The Luxor Temple of Egypt. Thebes was the capital city of New Kingdom Egypt. The ancient temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak stand within the city limits of modern-day Luxor. The resting places of the New Kingdom pharaohs, the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, are also located near the city. Photographed by Marc Ryckaert, January 29, 2011. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALuxor_Temple_R04.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Babylon, Egypt (modern-day Cairo, Egypt). The Babylon fortress. The areas around Cairo were originally the strongholds of ancient Egyptian rulers and have been settled since the first millennium. During the second century CE, the Roman emperor Trajan built a fortress on top of an older fortress that was built in the sixth century BCE. The Roman settlement was named Babylon, for the Mesopotamian city. The Roman fortress can still be seen today, although it was later restored, and it is currently the oldest standing structure within Cairo’s city limits. Photographed by Gerard Ducher, May 11, 2006. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGD-EG-Caire-Copte071.JPG
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Londinium (modern-day London, England). The remnants of the Roman wall on Tower Hill, England. Although recent archaeological discoveries place the first inhabitants of London around 4500 BCE, the area within and around modern-day London weren’t permanently settled until the Romans arrived in the first century CE. After the Iceni queen Boudica attacked the first settlement in London and burned it down, the Romans rebuilt another one, which lasted until the fall of the Roman empire. The remnants of the walls the Romans built around London can still be seen around the city. Photographed by Adam Bishop. July 1, 2011. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARoman_Wall_London.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Aksum (modern day Axum, Ethiopia). The Kingdom of Aksum ruled Ethiopia from 100-900 CE, becoming the third largest power in the world at that time next to Persia and the Eastern Roman Empire. The ruins in Axum include tombs and stelae used for religious reasons. Even after the Kingdom of Aksum’s decline, the location was still used to crown future kings of Ethiopia. Photographed by Jialiang Gao, January 2002. www.peace-on-earth.org. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAxum_northern_stelea_park.jpg.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Lutetia (modern-day Paris, France). The Roman-Gallon ruins of Arènes de Lutèce, Paris, France. The Romans conquered modern-day Paris in 52 BCE, and they built the site into a permanent settlement. The Arènes de Lutèce was built in the first century CE and it was used for gladiator fights. While Paris is known for other historical landmarks, the ruins from the Roman occupation of the area are still visible today. Photographed April 24, 2012. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArenes_de_Lutece_April_24%2C_2012.jpg.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Meteora (near Kalambaka, Greece). This collection of rock formations is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery complexes in the world. Meteora and its surrounding areas were inhabited in the prehistoric age, and monks moved to the top of the rock formations beginning in the ninth century. Modern highways now run between these ancient rocks. Photographed by Ioannis Th. Karageorgos, August 11, 2014. Wikimedia Commons.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Corinth, Greece. An urban street at the site of ancient Corinth. Corinth was once one of the largest Greek cities of the Classical Greek period. The original city of Corinth that rose around the ruins of ancient Corinth was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1850s. The new city of Corinth was established in 1858 and is located a few miles from the ruins. Wikimedia Commons.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Athens, Greece. Acropolis of Athens at dawn. The city of Athens has been settled since between the eleventh and seventh millennia BCE. It was an influential city-state in the Greek Classical period, when the ruler Pericles ordered the construction of the buildings on the Acropolis whose remains are still visible today. Wikimedia Commons.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Hampi (near modern-day Hosapete, India). Ancient documents claim Hampi has been occupied since the third century BCE when it was part of the Mauryan Empire. Archaeological discoveries indicate evidence of permanent settlement in the area date back to the 2nd century BCE. It became an important religious site in the Middle Ages, and it continues to be to this day. Photographed by Francesco Bandarin, 2008. Copyright by UNESCO. http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/109304.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Pataliputra (modern-day Patna, India). The ruins of Pataliputra in Kumhrar, Patna. Pataliputra was founded at the end of the fifth century BCE and was the capital of the Magadha Empire. It also became an extremely influential city during the Maurya and Gupta Empires. Ruins of the original Pataliputra can still be seen in parts of Patna, dating back from 600 BCE to 600 CE. Photographed by Manoj Nav, November 3, 2008. Wikimedia Commons.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Pasargadae (near modern-day Shiraz, Iran). Tomb of Cyrus the Great. Located near one of the oldest cities in Iran, Pasagardae was the initial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, established by Cyrus II in the sixth century BCE. The tombs of both Cyrus II and his son Cambyses II as well as other royal buildings have been found at Pasagardae. Photographed by Alireza Shakernia, February 20, 2009. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/20012543. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACyrus_the_Great.jpg.

You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Jerusalem, Israel. The Old City in Jerusalem. The first evidence of settlement in the area has been dated to between 4500 and 3500 BCE. A walled-in area within the modern city, The Old City of Jerusalem contains many important religious sites, such as the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Photographed by Shmuel Spiegelman, January 31, 2004. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOld_City_(Jerusalem).jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Herculaneum (modern-day Ercolano, Italy). Herculaneum, and the more famous city of Pompeii, were destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. While Pompeii was destroyed by layers of volcanic ash that covered the city, the larger, more successful city of Herculaneum was destroyed from the mixture of heat, ash, and gasses that erupted from the volcano. After the G. Dagli Orti/DeA Picture Library. https://www.britannica.com/place/Herculaneum.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Rome, Italy. The Pantheon, Rome, Italy. Archaeological evidence found in Rome and the surrounding areas indicates that the area has been settled for about 10,000 years. It was the capital of the Roman Empire and many claim it is the birthplace of Western civilization. When the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century CE, Rome fell under the control of the papacy, and it was the capital of the Papal States from the 8th century to 1870. Photographed by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz, April 27, 2016. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APantheon_Rome_04_2016_6466.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Philadelphia (modern-day Amman, Jordan). Roman amphitheatre at Amman cut into the side of a hill. Amman is the capital of Jordan and a major tourist location. The Romans conquered the area in the 1st century CE and controlled the area for the next four hundred years. The long period of Roman rule resulted in many Roman ruins that can still be seen in Amman today, including the Roman amphitheatre in Amman that was constructed under the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius in the 2nd century AD. Photographed by Dennis Jarvis, October 11, 2004. https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/2216808473/. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJordan-16B-072.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Byblos, Lebanon. Evidence found in Byblos dates the first occupants back to the Neolithic period, and it has been continuously inhabited since 5,000 BCE. You can find many ancient and medieval sites within the city. Photographed by Giorgio Montersino, August 27, 2009. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AByblos_5.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Berytus (modern-day Beirut, Lebanon). The Roman baths in Beirut, Lebanon. There have been people living in Beirut and its surrounding areas for more than 5,000 years. In the city, the Heritage trail leads to the city’s historical and archaeological sites, including baths left over from the Roman period. Other archaeological ruins in the city have been identified as Greek, Phoenician, and Byzantine. Photographed by Steven Damron, December 27, 2009. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARoman_baths_5.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Oea (modern-day Tripoli, Libya). The Marcus Aurelius Arch in Tripoli, Libya, built in 163 CE. The Phoenicians established the city of Oea in the 7th century BCE, and it eventually came under Roman control. The Romans renamed the city Regio Syrtica, and the Marcus Aurelius arch still stands from the Roman occupation. Tripoli has been continually occupied since it was founded, so many ancient buildings and structures have either been destroyed or they have been buried and built over. Photographed by Daniel and Kate Pett, April 2008. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMarcus_Aurelius_Arch_Tripoli_Libya.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Barcino (modern-day Barcelona, Spain). Templo de Barcino (aka Temple of Augustus), Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona was established as a Roman military camp, although archaeological evidence shows that the area has been settled since about 3,000 BCE. The Romans controlled Barcelona until it was conquered by the Visigoths in the fifth century. The ruins of an ancient Roman temple were found in the late 19th century, which has been attributed to the Roman emperor Augustus, but this hasn’t been proven conclusively. Photographed by Javi Guerra Hernando, September 27, 2009. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABarcelona-Templo_de_Barcino_(I).jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Agadir (modern-day Cadiz, Spain). The Roman Theatre in Cadiz, Spain. Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians in 1104 BCE, and it later came under the control of Carthage and Rome, who renamed it Augusta Urbs Iulia Gaditana. The Roman theatre in Cadiz, built during the first century BCE, is the second-largest Roman theatre discovered today, next to the theatre found in Pompeii. Photographed by Peejayem, September 15, 2007. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATeatro_Romano_de_C%C3%A1diz_-_Grader%C3%ADo.JPG
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Anurahapura, Sri Lanka. Kuttam Pokuna pools, Anurahapura. Evidence of settlement in Anurahapura dates back to the tenth century BCE, and the king of the Anurahapura kingdom made the city his capital in the early fourth century BCE. The city is now known for its surviving ancient ruins from this period, including the Kuttam Pokuna, a site of ancient pools and its collection of monasteries that are sacred to Buddhists around the world. Wikimedia Commons.
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Damascus, Syria. Ruins of the ancient city of Damascus. The area around Damascus has been settled since around 6,000 BCE, but the settlement didn’t prosper until the Aramaeans settled there before 1,000 BCE. You can still see the ruins from the Roman and Byzantine periods of occupation. Photographed by Ron Van Oers. Copyright by UNESCO. http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/107610
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Carthage, Tunisia. Archaeological site of Carthage. The city of Carthage was founded by Phoenicians in the first millennium BCE, and it eventually grew to dominate the trade from its prime location on the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage grew in power and military might, and engaged in the Punic Wars against Rome. After Rome defeated Carthage, the Romans destroyed the city and sold its people into slavery. Eventually, Rome rebuilt the city into Roman Carthage, which became a major hub in their African provinces. Photographed by Christian Manhart. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArchaeological_Site_of_Carthage-130237.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul, Turkey). The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul was founded in 660 BCE and became one of the most powerful ancient cities. The famous Hagia Sophia was built in the sixth century, after two previous churches on the same site were destroyed. Istanbul was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire and contributed to the spread of Christianity throughout the empire until the Ottomans conquered it in 1453. Photographed by Arild Vagen, March 1, 2013. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHagia_Sophia_Mars_2013.jpg
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Korama (modern-day Göreme, Turkey). Panorama of Göreme from a hilltop. Göreme has been settled since between 1800-1200 BCE, and it is famous for its tombs and buildings cut into its high-altitude rocks. It became a place frequently fought over by the Greeks and Persians, and the people of Göreme dug tunnels into the rocks for safety. The town soon became a sanctuary for Christians who fled persecution from Rome, and Christianity has continued in the area to this day. Photographed by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, July 31, 2009. http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGoreme_Panorama_From_Southeast.JPG
You Won’t Believe These 30 Images of Ancient Ruins Hiding in Plain Sight
Jericho, West Bank. Tell es-Sultan, Jericho. There have been 23 layers of ancient civilizations discovered to date at Jericho, and the city has been inhabited since about 10,000 BCE. Tell es-Sultan is the earliest dated site and is located a few miles from the modern city. After many centuries of relative prosperity and growth within and around Jericho, the city lost its influence and power after the Romans crushed the Great Revolt of Judea in 70 CE, and it became a Roman garrison. In the 4th century, a newer, Byzantine city of Jericho was built where the modern city now stands. Photographed by Deror Avi, December 5, 2012. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATell_Es_Sultan_Early_Bronze_IIIb_period_Palace_P1190735.JPG

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