Abu Simbel

10 Incredible Places Carved From Rock

The hands of nature have created wonderful things- lands, islands, beautiful places and structures. And we as humans have always felt awed and wondered over the works of nature. But over the centuries, human hands have also created some amazing and wonderful things. Rock-cut structures are one of the best examples of the amazing things human hands can do.

Here are ten incredible places carved from rock that will definitely awe you.


10. Abu Simbel, Egypt

The Abu Simbel temples are located at Abu Simbel in a small village in Nubia, southern Egypt. It consists of two huge rock temples situated on the bank of Lake Nasser. The Abu Simbel temples are a part of the “Nubian Monuments,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are said to have been carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the reign of Pharoah Ramesses II. It was done so to honour the pharaoh’s victory at the Battle of Kadesh and is a monument to himself and his queen Nefertari. The complex was relocated in 1968, on an artificial hill, above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.

9. Longmen Grottoes, China

The Longmen Grottoes, also known as the Longmen Caves, are located 12 kilometres south of Luòyáng in Hénán province, China. They caves, which were dug from a cliff, houses thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples and are considered one of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art. The images were carved into caves excavated from the limestone cliffs of the Xiangshan and Longmenshan mountains. The Longmen Grottoes are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as “an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity”

8. Petra, Jordan

Described by UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”, Petra is a historical and archaeological city in Jordan. It is also called ‘the Rose City’ because of the colour of the stone out of which it was carved. Situated on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah among the mountains, Petra is Jordan’s most visited tourist attraction and was believed to have been established around 312 BC. Petra was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in1985.

7. The Ajanta and Ellora Caves, India

The Ajanta and Ellora caves are both located in the city of Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India.

Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. The caves were built by a dynasty known as the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Ellora is an epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 caves of Ellora were excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills and consist of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain caves.

The Ajanta caves are considered a masterpiece of Buddhist religious art. Its paintings and sculpture of the figure of Buddha are world famous. The caves also depict the famous Jataka tales. The Ajanta caves consist of 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments. The Archaeological Survey of India described it as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting”.

6. City of Matera, Italy

Matera, also known as the Subterranean City, is a city and a province in the region of Basilicata, Italy. Matera is well known for its historical centre Sassi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sassi are houses dug into the calcareous rock itself. Many of these houses are caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses.

5. Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka

The Golden Temple of Dambulla or the Dambulla cave temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Located in the centre of the country, it has been a World Heritage Site since 1991. It consists of 80 plus documented caves having statues and paintings related to the life of Lord Buddha. This temple complex dates back to the 1st century BC and has five caves under a huge overhanging rock. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square metres. Depiction on the walls of the caves and ceilings inside include images of Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, various gods and goddesses, temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha’s first sermon.

4. Churches of Ivanovo, Bulgaria

The Churches of Ivanovo are a group of rock-hewn monolithic churches, chapels and monasteries located near the village of Ivanovo, Bulgaria. They have been hewn out of solid rock and are known for its beautiful medieval frescoes. The caves founded in the 17th century, had been inhabited by monks from the 1220s. The Churches of Ivanovo were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

3. Yungang Grottoes, China

Considered by UNESCO as “masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art” ,Yungang Grottoes are ancient Chinese Buddhist temples. Located near the city of Datong, Shanxi province, they are one of the most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites of China. The site consists of 252 grottoes with 51,000 plus Buddha statues and statuettes. The Yungang Grottoes were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

2. Mesa Verde National Park, U.S

Mesa Verde, located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States, is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. It is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 with the intention to “preserve the works of man”. The park features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancient Pueblo people and consist of over 4000 archaeological sites and over 600 cliff dwellings.

1. Cappadocia Cave Houses, Turkey

The Cappadocia cave houses in Turkey are a wonderful example of human creation. These cave houses are a sight to wonder and consist of a network of caves that were dug into the soft rock of Cappadocia. They include living quarters, places of worship, stables, and storehouses, with tunnel complexes forming entire towns with as many as eight different stories underground.

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