What 4 Ancient Iconic Buildings Looked Like During Their Glory Days

To the chagrin of archaeologists, many of the world’s oldest structures remain only in ruins.

The team at Expedia was so interested in learning what ancient landmarks looked like thousands of years ago that the travel company commissioned a series of digital reconstructions of sites like the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and Egypt’s Luxor Temple.

With the help of technology, you can step back through the ages and take in the unspoiled wonder of some of the world’s most incredible structures. Read on to see what seven ancient iconic buildings look like now versus how they would have appeared in their glory days.


#1 The Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was constructed in the 5th century BCE.

The Parthenon is characterized by its Doric columns, which have survived through the centuries. Expedia

Standing tall on the hill of the Acropolis, Athens’ ancient citadel, the Parthenon, was dedicated to Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The temple — which is constructed from white marble in the Doric style — sustained damage through the centuries, most notably when its center was destroyed in 1687 during the Great Turkish War.

While it was mostly destroyed, the Parthenon’s basic structure has survived.

A reconstruction of the Parthenon. Expedia
This is what the Parthenon would look like if its structure was fully intact.
#2 The Temple of Jupiter, dedicated to the Roman god of the sky and thunder, was built in the 2nd century BCE.
The temple was destroyed by an earthquake — even before Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Courtesy of Expedia

A hub of religious life in ancient Rome, the Temple of Jupiter was severely damaged by an earthquake in 62 CE.


More of the temple might still be intact if it had been repaired before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

A reconstruction of the Temple of Jupiter. Expedia


Since the temple wasn’t repaired before the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius— a natural disaster that killed an estimated 13,000 people — this reconstruction gives us significant insight into lost architectural history.


#3 Hadrian’s Wall in England designates a boundary of the Roman Empire. The 73-mile-long structure is lined with milecastles, observation towers, and forts.

Milecastle 39 is a surviving stone feature of Hadrian’s Wall. Expedia

Designating a boundary of the Roman Empire in what is now England, Hadrian’s Wall can be traced back to the 1st century CE. The 73-mile-long structure — which is punctuated with milecastles, observation towers, and forts — functioned as an active military post for 300 years.

Milecastle 39, also called Castle Nick, is a prominent surviving stone feature of the wall.

This is what Milecastle 39 would have looked like in its heyday.

A reconstruction of Milecastle 39. Expedia


Milecastle 39, which stretches from Highshield Crags to Peel Crags in northern England’s Pennine Hills, encompasses the remnants of barracks and related military structures.


#4 Egypt’s Luxor Temple was constructed over hundreds of years by pharaohs including Amenhotep III, Ramses II, and Tutankhamun.

Egypt’s Luxor Temple was once a sprawling complex. Expedia

The temple— located in what was once the Ancient Egyptian city of Thebes and is now Luxor — was the site of the annual reenactment of the pharaoh’s coronation.

One of the remaining elements of the sprawling complex is the 200-foot-high Great Colonnade Hall, which features decorative elements that Tutankhamun added circa 1330 BCE.


Excavations of the temple since the 1960s have revealed sandstone fragments and a life-sized statue of Ramses II’s wife, Queen Nefertari.

A reconstruction of Luxor Temple. Expedia

Thanks to excavations completed in the 1960s and onward, archaeologists have been able to recover thousands of sandstone fragments inscribed with hieroglyphs and images of temple rituals. They also unearthed a life-sized statue of Queen Nefertari, wife of Ramses II.

See more of these iconic views from Insider.