Monte Albán in Oaxaca has been rated the world’s best heritage site for visitors by a panel of Which? experts, receiving an expert score of 79%.
The pyramid complex, perched on a mountain top in central Mexico, beat off competition from better-known sites worldwide including the Taj Mahal, Petra, Angkor and the Great Pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
The ten best historic sites to visit on holiday are pictured below. Find out which are the best holiday companies to book your own historic trip with.
The best historic sites
Dating from the 5th century BC, Monte Albán was the capital of the ancient Zapotec civilization. The site features temples, hidden tombs and sacrificial ball courts in a spectacular location.
England’s own Avebury – a vast complex of Neolithic monuments – came a close second with an expert score of 78%. It was praised for its quiet, rural setting and for the visitor experience. Visitors can wander freely among the stones – unlike at its sister site, Stonehenge.
In third place, Herculaneum in Italy scored 76%. Like Pompeii, the seaside resort was frozen in time when Vesuvius erupted in AD79, but Herculaneum is better preserved, quieter and more rewarding to visit.
Heritage sites rated
Which? Travel’s expert panel was made up of Professor Tim Champion – Vice President of the Royal Archaeological Institute, Professor Henry Cleere – former World Heritage Coordinator for ICOMOS, and Dr Annabel Lawson – founder of heritage tour specialists Andante Travels.
They debated 25 criteria including the visitor experience, the presentation and preservation of the site, the ability to learn from and engage with the site, and the holiday appeal of the surrounding region.
The full results appear in the January issue of Which? Travel.