Are you looking for a holiday that’s a bit different? why not find out more about the myths of the ancient worlds in some of these mystical places…This week we decided to spookify and mystify! There’s a reason for it. In our regular Purple Pick feature, we’re focusing on the beautiful African country of Gambia. We learned they have a Holy Forest so we decided to do a bit of a roundup of mystical or unusual places to visit, so you can go home scared out of your wits or quietly intrigued. Enjoy some of the most magical and mythical places in the world.
Gambia Makasutu Holy Forest
Makasutu is a stunning breath of fresh air, just a few miles from Brikama, it is filled with lush green vegetation, towering palm trees and long stretches of savannah and grasslands. But what really makes it special is its unforgettable history. Established by a pair of English expats, Makasutu is walking with the ghosts of the past. At first the local villagers did not want to sell the land, as it’s haunted by ‘Djinns’ and a kind of pre-historic dinosaur called the ‘Ninkinanka’. It was a very important space to the local tribes, where their wars took place as well as their ancient rituals and sacrifices. Legend has it one poor king who died there was separated from his head, which was buried with his crown and throne within the forest confines. The ‘sacred forest’ is still home to the indigenous people, who may share their palm wine with you if you’re lucky. Image via @ Flickr
The Great Pyramids, Egypt
Perhaps the most photographed and famous ancient site in the world, the Pyramids have been perplexing people for years. The Great Pyramids as they are known are found near the Egyptian capital Cairo, on the Giza Plateau.
But, why were they built? Most people believe they were huge mausoleums for the ancient pharaohs. People believe some of his soul, or ‘ka’ stayed with the dead body. To ensure they carried on to the next life, their body had to be taken care of and so were entombed inside the huge structures for protection and safety.
The crazy thing is, even after thousands of years, no one is even sure how they were made! Most of the theories surround the idea that the rock was dragged there to build the huge sites, much of it carried across the Nile. And think about it, ensuring the Pyramid appears correctly and symmetrical, all the blocks had to be the exact same size. Imagine the precision involved. Not only that, but the sides of the Great Pyramid are aimed nearly exactly true north and probably took at least 100,000 men to construct.
On top of that, the Great Pyramid is the only one of the ancient wonders of the world still standing, so what are you waiting for? Image via @ Flickr
Easter Island Statues
This is probably an easy one. Tucked away in the middle of the South Pacific, you’ll find a tiny island filled with huge heads. Yes, you did read that right. Easter Island’s statues are legendary. Over 800 of the stone carvings dot the Polynesian Island, one of the most remote places on the planet.
The original islanders are thought to have landed on the island 1500 years ago in tiny canoes. They then started furiously carving away by hand, creating hundreds of giant heads that they placed in lines across the island. Go figure.
No one is really sure what it’s all about; some of the statues weigh up to 82 tonnes, why were they transported around the island and how? There are, of course, plenty of theories: one legend tells the tale of an ancient ruler who was able to make statues move using his kingly powers.
New excavations over the last few months have revealed the statues are much bigger than originally thought, with head, shoulders, knees and toes included! Image via @ Flickr
Mexico/Caribbean Cenote in Mayan Civilization
A cenote is a naturally occurring formation that is found across the Mexican Caribbean. It’s actually a sinkhole, or pit of spring water. Ok, a pit of spring water, what’s so special about it? Well cenotes were often used as a place for sacrificial offerings from the ancient Mayan people. It might sound a little Indiana Jones, but many people in the Mayan civilization believed these cenotes to be doors to the underworld and channels to communicate with the gods. Plenty of gold, precious stones and pottery remains have been found there. At the Cenote Sagrado, (sacred cenote) they’ve even found evidence of human sacrifices! It was believed young males were the most common sacrifice because they represented strength and power.
Only some of these places are open to the public, a few are close to Cancun and Playa del Carmen and swimming in them is considered a true holiday must do in the Mexican Caribbean. Image via @ Flickr
It’s probably fair to say Athens is sort of one of the overlooked places in Greece. The islands are where everyone goes and it’s true they are stunningly beautiful. However the historic city has plenty to offer. With the ancient acropolis standing head and shoulders above the city, you can practically feel the history in the air. Everywhere you walk; there are historic sites, teeming with mystical stories from the ancient markets, the original marble stadium, home to the first Olympic Games and temples dedicated to the Gods.
Our favourite story is of how Athina, the Goddess of the city came to be born. The story goes that Zeus ate Metis – Athina’s mother while she was pregnant. A while later, Zeus was troubled by a huge headache, and asked Hermes to fix it. So, he did what any good friend would and swung an axe furiously at his head splitting it open. From Zeus’s forehead leaped Athena, fully formed. That’s pretty cool however you look at it. Image via @ Flickr
That’s our wrap of mythical and mystical hot spots, as always we’d like to hear from you. Do you have any other suggestions? Have you found some place a bit closer to home? Let us know in the comments below.