In a world where there are many ancient sites for tourists to visit and only limited time and money to do so, which are the best. Which are most worth it? Those are the questions the Telegraph of the UK posed in a recent article.
It did so in response to a show at the Tate Britain Museum called “Ruin Lust”. That term beautifully describes the tourist urge to see and walk places that bring to life the ancient past in their broken glory. The “aesthetic obsession with decay” speaks volumes to the millions of tourists who throng places such as Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Angkor Wat and so many more.
Of course, in a world where every day the news presents us stories of destruction in places such as Syria–where many ancient marvels have recently been converted into ruins or even erased — and threats of destruction in Ukraine, the shadow of our modern cities in all their industrial power being converted over night into broken skeletons is like the German word Schadenfreude, the pleasure in destructions. It is the uncanny that is there in the corner of our visions when we look around us, and yet which comes to ground in the carefully curated archeological sites (since archeologists do not call them ruins) made stable and safe for tourists.
In this context, although without noting the ironies, the Telegraph named Machu Picchu the top ruin of the world.
Below a picture of the empty city on a saddle, they say:
Machu Picchu is so well-known and so certain to fill travellers with high expectations that you might think it’s doomed to disappoint,” writes Chris Moss, in Telegraph Travel’s guide to the site. “No other South American archaeological site comes close when it comes to visitor numbers and broad appeal. But with a bit of careful planning and the right approach, you will find the site as enchanting and engaging as any on the planet. The draw of Machu Picchu (which means “old mountain” in the Quechua language) is obvious: a 550-year old citadel built by the most advanced – and in Peru the very last – pre-Columbian society in the spectacular setting of a saddle between two forest-clad Andean peaks that has been preserved enough to be recognisable as a city.”
Other Peruvian ruins include Kuelap – the “Machu Picchu of the north”, on a clifftop surrounded by cloud forest; Chavín de Huantar – which pre-dates the Incas and features narrow tunnels and impressive engravings; and the adobe city of Chan Chan.