The Celts are one of the most well-known groups in Europe and one of the least understood. Depending on which classifications are used, the Celts are also one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. In the centuries before Christ, the Celts were spread out across much of continental Europe, and though they are mostly identified with Gaul, evidence suggests they also spread as far as Portugal.
A one-eyed old man, with a gray cloak and a wide-brimmed hat leaning on a staff. A wanderer who appears when least expected, bringing triumph or doom. The god of prophecy, poetry and fate. A shape changer. A sorcerer. The god Odin cuts a dramatic figure in Norse mythology and is still a part of the popular imagination. He is the inspiration for figures like J.R.R. Tolkien's Gandalf the Grey, and he still appears in modern literature as varied as Marvel Comics and Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods.
"Not what I expected but enjoyable nontheless"
A hammer no mortal can lift. A flame-haired fiery storm god. A comic book alien-hero-god who defends humanity. The swastika. Even the name "Thursday" ("Thor's Day"). Despite the virtual disappearance of the indigenous Norse religion and mythology several centuries ago, modern society still regularly encounters the storm god Thor, who continues to be brought back to life in the form of literature and was recently the protagonist in a big-budget Hollywood movie.
"A good listen"
Alongside the famous Lost City of Atlantis, perhaps no mythological city has captured the imaginations of people or been the source for exploration quite like El Dorado, the fabled city of gold that the Spanish believed was located somewhere in South America.
From the moment Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés first found and confronted them, the Aztecs have fascinated the world, and they continue to hold a unique place both culturally and in pop culture. Nearly 500 years after the Spanish conquered their mighty empire, the Aztecs are often remembered today for their major capital, Tenochtitlan, as well as being fierce conquerors of the Valley of Mexico who often engaged in human sacrifice rituals.
"Very interesting peek into Celtic Druids"
The Tower of London is one of the most historic sites in all of England and still one of the most popular. All around is the modern city of London, one of the world's most prosperous and power financial districts, but the Tower is still a daunting structure that looms across the landscape. Not a single structure but a vast network of medieval and early modern fortifications, it anchors the southeastern end of the old city and controls access to the River Thames and, through it, London's connection to the sea.
The ancient world often evokes wonder and even confusion, and few places accomplish any of that more than the incredible ruined stone temple of Puma Punku. Puma Punku is a marvel of engineering, stonemasonry and design. These facts are obvious to even the lay observer, as Puma Punku’s stonework is remarkable even for the Andes where visitors have long wondered at ancient stone joints where even a knife bade could not fit between the stones.
Many ancient civilizations have influenced and inspired people in the 21st century. The Greeks and Romans continue to fascinate the West today. But of all the world's civilizations, none have intrigued people more than the Mayans, whose culture, astronomy, language, and mysterious disappearance all continue to captivate people.
Thriving between AD 100-750, Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in the ancient world, with a population estimated at upwards of 150,000-250,000, over three times the size of contemporary Mayan capitals. Furthermore, Teotihuacan was a supremely well-planned and efficient city that was able to field massive armies and extend its power far beyond its home base. Teotihuacan not only served as a vital center for trade in Ancient Mesoamerica, but also spread its architecture, art, religion, and culture.
"Learn to pronounce the place names!"
Chichen Itza was inhabited for hundreds of years and was a very influential center in the later years of Maya civilization. At its height, Chichen Itza may have had over 30,000 inhabitants, and with a spectacular pyramid, enormous ball court, observatory and several temples, the builders of this city exceeded even those at Uxmal in developing the use of columns and exterior relief decoration. Of particular interest at Chichen Itza is the sacred cenote, a sinkhole was a focus for Maya rituals around water.
On July 12, 1588, the legendary Spanish Armada started for the English channel. The Spanish plan was to take this invasion, led by the duke of Parma, to the coast of southeast England, where they would be released to conquer Elizabethan England for the Spanish monarch and Catholic Christendom.
The Greek god Hades is something of an enigma. On the one hand, people can view him through a lens that was a byproduct of the Christian tradition: as a terrifying lord of death seated upon his ebony throne, an unseen force of power moving through the world. Certainly, many of the ancient Greeks themselves saw the god in this light.
"Okay, but not great."
Machu Picchu is one of South America's best tourist spots, and the ruins have even been voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. But even though Machu Picchu is now the best known of all Incan ruins, its function in Incan civilization is still not clear. Some have speculated that it was an outpost or a frontier citadel, while others believe it to be a sanctuary or a work center for women. Still others suggest that it was a ceremonial center or perhaps even the last refuge of the Incas after the Spanish conquest.
The Cherokees might be the most famous tribe in the country. If so, the person most responsible for it is Sequoyah, whose invention of the Cherokee syllabary also played a prominent role in facilitating the assimilation between the Cherokee and Americans. Sequoyah began work on devising the writing and reading system around 1809, and it was instantly popular among Cherokees, to the extent that it was being used in written publications among the tribe by the 1820s. The syllabary has been in use ever since, both within the tribe and among outsiders.
King Arthur is one of the most famous names in history, and his name still evokes visions of fantasy, chivalry, bravery, and more even today. Arthur remains a pop culture fixture around the globe, made famous in various Arthurian tales written by writers like Chretien de Troyes. Arthur came to embody the ideals of the Middle Ages: strength, chivalry, bravery, and more. Along the way, his Excalibur sword, the Holy Grail, his queen, and more have all become household words.
The Mayans maintained power in the Yucatan for over 1,000 years, and at the height of its Classical era, the city of Tikal was one of the power centers of the empire. Archaeologists believe Tikal had been built as early as the fifth or fourth century BC. Eventually it became a political, economic, and military capital that was an important part of a far-flung network across Mesoamerica.
A hammer no mortal can lift. A flame-haired, fiery storm god. A comic book alien-hero-god who defends humanity. The swastika. Even the name "Thursday" ("Thor's Day"). Despite the virtual disappearance of the indigenous Norse religion and mythology several centuries ago, modern society still regularly encounters the storm god Thor, who continues to be brought back to life in the form of literature and was recently the protagonist in a big-budget Hollywood movie.
During the Age of Exploration, Native American tribes fell victim to European conquerors seeking legendary cities made of gold and other riches, attempts that were often made in vain. And yet of all the empires that were conquered across the continent, the one that continues to be most intimately associated with legends of gold and hidden riches is the Inca Empire.