All you have to do is take a look at post cards showing these monuments to make you want to pack up and leave. However, the reality is a little less daydreamy. Seen from afar, these monuments seem a little less enchanting.
The Pyramids of Giza, the Taj-Mahal, the Acropolis in Athens… Every year, these historical monuments and famous locations are visited by millions of tourists that come from all four corners of the globe to see these marvels because of how they look on post cards. However, sometimes these visits leave some of them with feeling a bit disappointed… As it turns out, seen up close on tours, these monuments are very often amazing to witness, but when seen from afar, the reality is sometimes a bit different.
1 – The Taj-Mahal (India)
Located in Agra in Uttar Pradesh, the Taj-Mahal was built in the 1640s by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Arjumand Banu Begam who died during childbirth. This white marble mausoleum is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, bringing in more than 3 million tourists every year. Nevertheless, the Taj-Mahal today is facing quite a large threat: pollution of the Yamuna river.
2 – The Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
The Pyramids of Giza were built more than 4,500 years ago in Ancient Egypt. The largest pyramid (Khéops) measures 137 meters tall and the smallest (Mykérinos) is 63 meters tall. On post cards, they appear to majestically dominate the Giza plateau, remaining preserved from all urban invasion. Seen from afar however, the scene is a bit different. Today, the pyramids are threatened by rapid urbanisation of the plateau and the surrounding areas.
3 – Stonehenge (England)
Located in the Wiltshire county in England, Stonehenge is a megalithic monument that was built more than 4,000 years ago. Now one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, what it was and what it was used for is still a mystery for experts who are still studying it. Every year, almost a million visitors visit the site, which is actually quite far away from everything, meaning you can’t get a great look.
4 – Niagara Falls (Canada-United States)
Niagara Falls is a collection of three waterfalls located on the Niagara river that connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, close to the border between Canada and the United States. They are the most powerful waterfalls in North America, and they are also a tourist hub shared by Niagara Falls’ twin cities in the United States and Canada. But between the hydroelectric power stations and the buildings that have been built around them over the years, the countryside isn’t as idyllic as post cards might lead you to believe.
5 – The Brandenburg Gate (Germany)
The Brandenburg Gate is located at the Western entrance into old Berlin and has become a symbol of the city. Built in the 18th century, it was integrated into the Berlin Wall before it was later demolished. The monument is a place that is frequently visited by tourists who venture to the German capital. Nevertheless, it is now surrounded by new buildings that sometimes overshadow some of its charm
6 – The Acropolis (Greece)
The Acropolis in Athens is one of the most visited tourist sites in the world and for good reason. It is one of the rare monuments that has survived since Ancient Greece. It is where the famous Pantheon can be found that was built more than 2,400 years ago in tribute to the goddess Athena. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. However, when you look at the post cards, some people sometimes forget that it is located on a high rocky plateau right in the centre of Athens.
7 – Mount Rushmore (The United States)
Mount Rushmore is a granite monumental sculpture located near the Rapid City in the state of South Dakota in the United States. Located 19 meters high, the sculpture shows the faces of the four most significant presidents in American history, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Seen from close up, the monument is spectacular, attracting almost 3 million visitors every year. Seen from afar however, it isn’t as impressive, since it is actually embedded into a huge mountain.
8 – The Forbidden City (China)
The Forbidden City is the Imperial Palace located in the heart of the Imperial City in Peking in China. Extending over 72 hectares, the palace was built in the 15th century but several parts have had to be reconstructed over the centuries. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved Palaces in China and the City welcomes millions of visitors every year who are curious to see the place up close where 24 emperors lived before 1911. But although the City looks incredible up close, it also easily seems to get lost in the hustle and bustle of Peking, the second most populated city in China after Shanghai.
9 – HOLLYWOOD (The United States)
The giant HOLLYWOOD letters located on Mount Lee; a hill located in western Los Angeles in the United States. They are the symbol of the neighbourhood that shares the same name below, that, in 1910, became the main production centre for the booming film industry. Nowadays, the cultural identity of the neighbourhood is still going strong. Nevertheless, when seen from afar, just like Mount Rushmore, the letters appear to get a bit lost in the countryside.
Although the view is a bit different than the ones on postcards, the majority of these famous monuments are still essential proof of a period in history that will continue to fascinate and attract more and more tourists in the years to come. As long as they are preserved that is…
Take a look at the video above to see these famous landmarks from an alternative viewpoint...