Tikal, Machu Picchu,

the Roman Forums … world history is told through the lasting legacies

of our ancestors’ ruins. We have uncovered ancient relics, unearthed

mysterious symbols and discovered secrets and traditions of

long-forgotten rituals. But the world is a ruined place and there are

more than famous coliseums and pyramids waiting to be visited, and I’ll

prove it. Here are six of the least visited ruins in the world.

Samarra, Iraq


The famous Spiral (Al-Maleweyya) minaret

Located on the east bank of the Tigris River in Iraq, it is easy to

understand why Samarra is one of the least visited archeological sites

in the world. Through war and unrest, the remains of the city’s

collapsed pisé de terre and brick walls are still visible, as are the

9th century Great Mosque, its Spiral Minaret and the Caliphal Palace.

At one point, the Great Mosque was the largest mosque in the world,

whose minaret reached 170 feet high and 108 feet wide. The stucco

carvings within the mosque, as well as the floral and geometric designs

were influential in world architecture and influenced the design of the

Mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo.

Archaeological Ruins of Copan, Honduras


Archeologists say Copan deserves more attention

The ruins at Copan are spread across 40 acres on the far southern

plains of the Mayan empire in western Honduras near the Guatemalan

border. The Copan Valley Maya are thought to have occupied the valley

from 1300-900 BC, but didn’t start building Copan until the 5th century

where they flourished for over 200 years. Then, on May 26, 800 AD, in

the peak of Copan’s reign-and for reasons unknown to historians-the

last hieroglyphic was recorded.

Copan lay buried for centuries under the overgrowing vines of the

Honduras rainforest until it was rediscovered in 1839. In 1989,

excavations revealed what are thought to be the tombs of Copan’s

founder, Sun-eyed Green Quetzal Macaw and his wife, along with other

important Mayan monuments and artifacts. The Copan Archeological Park

and Ruins are open year-round.

Armenian Monastic Ensembles, Iran


The Black Church in Iran

Located in northwest Iran, the Armenian Monasteries

consist of three ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith-St.

Thaddeus, St. Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor, all of which date

back to the 7th century.

Built more than 1700 years ago, St. Thaddeus Church, or the “Black

Church,” is considered to be one of the oldest Christian churches in

the world and is believed to the tomb of St. Thaddeus who traveled to

Armenia to preach the Christian faith. The church is open one day a

year for the Feast Day of St. Thaddeus, on or around June 19, and is

held in conjugation with the annual Armenian pilgrimage in Iran.

Gamzigrad-Romuliana, Serbia


Stone and brick arches date from the 3rd century

Once thought to be the remains of an ancient Roman military camp, the ruins at Felix Romuliana in eastern Serbia

date back to 289 AD, and are actually the remains of an imperial

palace. Constructed in the city of Gamzigrad for the Emperor Galerius

and named for his pagan cult priestess mother, the temples and palaces’

purposes were threefold: to serve as a place to worship Galerius’

mother, to serve as a monument to his work as Emperor and to serve as

the villa where he would one day retire.

Portraits of rulers carved from the Egyptian stone, porphyry, and

ancient Roman coins were discovered at the site, as well as fine

mosaics, baths and gates. The ruins are open to visitors from May

1-November 1 each year.

Archaeological Ruins at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan


These are some old mounds!

Mohenjo-Daro, meaning “mound of the dead,” is a city in the Indus Valley Civilization 50 miles southwest of Sindh, Pakistan,

that was constructed entirely of fired adobe brick. The area was

settled in 2600 BC and grew to a size of 250 hectares until the city’s

river changed course and everybody left town around 1700 BC.

In 1922, a Buddhist monk led an Indian archeologist to the mound that

he believed contained valuable Buddhist relics - and Mohenjo-Daro was

rediscovered. The city’s advanced drainage system, building

construction and bathing areas-complete with tar lining and underground

heating-are proof of an advanced city planning from the 3rd millennium

BC. Organized or self-guided tours are available for visits to


The Tomb of Askia, Mali


You could put your eye at while visiting this ancient tomb

Built at the end of the 15th century, the tomb of Askia at the Great Mosque of Gao in Mali,

was built as the burial place for Askia Mohammed I, or Askia the Great,

the first Askia emperor of Songhai. Askia made a pilgrimage to Mecca

and returned in 1495, made Islam the official religion of the region

and brought back all of the mud and wood used to construct his massive


The 45 by 60 foot square vault is made of mud-brick and at 32 feet

high, is the largest pre-colonial architectural building in the region.

The porcupine-like stakes that protrude from the tomb are

characteristic of the Mading masons, whose skills Askia forcibly

retained for his building. Recent renovations include re-plastering the

monument, installing a protective wall and adding electricity and

ceiling fans. One-hour guided tours can be arranged on-site.