Some UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa are so mystical that people travel there to experience a miracle, or to take in the powerful energy of the place — or just to be in the presence of the ghosts of some of Africa’s most important spiritual, historical events.
Here are just 8 of them — 8 mystical World Heritage sites in Africa.
This is an updated version of an AFKInsider article published Oct. 23, 2014.
For about 150 years until 1152 A.D., the Hammadid dynasty ruled what is known today as Northeastern Algeria. Al Qal’a of Beni Hammad was the capital. It was destroyed in 1152 but you can still see remains of one of the largest mosques in Algeria here.
The Pyramids of Giza are the last remaining wonder of the original seven wonders of the world. Each of the other six have since been replaced. The Pyramids contain the Great Sphinx, dozens of tombs and fascinating archaeological sites.
Aksum was a city that existed from the first to 13th century during a time when Ethiopia was considered the most powerful country between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia. Here you can see monolithic obelisks — ancient pillars in front of temples — enormous monuments, the tombs of ancient royalty and the remains of old castles.
If you want a sense of Imperial Rome’s presence in Africa, just visit this ampitheatre. It is North Africa’s largest amphitheater, with a capacity of 35,000. Standing in the middle of the rows of stadiums, deep and high, you can almost feel the fear of the original performers and athletes.
Leptis Magna is a semi-destroyed town frozen in time and today an archaeological site. It was once an important city in the Roman Empire. Today visitors can see barely touched remains of public places, homes, a marketplace, shops and more. You can experience the city almost as Romans did 1000 B.C.
Bwindi deserves its name. With 128 square miles of jungle forest and 163 species of trees, the park is accessible only by foot. It’s one of the most diverse and inhabited ecosystems on the continent. You can hardly take a step without encountering something that’s alive.
The Fossil Hominid sites contain evidence of human occupation, as well as valuable information on human evolution from over 3 million years ago. Some sites contain parts of skulls from a now extinct ancestor of modern humans.
It’s hard to believe that humans ever managed to survive living on this mountain in the middle of an ocean, but they did. During the 18th and 19th centuries runaway slaves hid in the caves of Le Morne Mountain, creating settlements.
They were protected by the mountain’s isolated, wooded and almost inaccessible cliffs. Mauritius became known as the “Maroon Republic” because of the large number of escaped slaves who lived on Le Morne Mountain.