Famous Historical Constructions Surrounded By Legends
We all love to travel and to visit famous historical constructions. We’re fascinated by their architecture, their locations, their beauty, but also by the story behind them. Who doesn’t love a good mystery or a legend? An interesting legend adds great value to a historical monument.
Read on to discover our selection of famous historical constructions surrounded by amazing legends:
1. The Sphinx – Egypt
The Great Sphinx of Giza on the top of our list. Some of the only facts agreed upon by experts regarding this ancient monument are that it is one of the biggest and most ancient statues in the world and that it has the body of a lion and the head of a man resembling an Egyptian pharaoh. The rest all comes down to speculation and – you guessed – legend!
One of the most famous legends surrounding the Sphinx is the one about a prince of Egypt, known as Prince Thutmose. The prince’s grandfather was Thutmose III who descended from Queen Hatshepsut. According to the legend, Prince Thutmose was the apple of his father’s eye, making him the target of extreme jealousy when it came to his siblings. Some even plotted to murder him.
Because of the turmoil in his personal life, Thutmose preferred to be away from home and started spending a lot of time in upper Egypt and the desert. Being a strong and skilled man, he enjoyed hunting and archery. One particular day during a hunt, Thutmose left his two servants behind in the heat of the day to go say his prayers near the pyramids.
He paused in front of the Sphinx, known in those days as Harmachis, which means “god of the rising sun”. The massive stone statue was up to its shoulders in the desert sand. Thutmose stared up at the Sphinx, praying that it would take away all his problems. Suddenly, the great big statue seemed to come to life and a loud voice sounded up from it.
The Sphinx beseeched Thutmose to release it from the sand that was weighing it down. As it spoke, the Sphinx’s eyes grew so bright that as Thutmose looked into them he couldn’t bear it and fainted. When he woke, the day had already started growing long. Thutmose rose slowly and then made an oath to the Sphinx as he stood before it. He promised that if he became the next Pharaoh, he would rid the Sphinx of all the sand covering it and immortalize the event in stone. He went on to do exactly this.
Of course, Thutmose indeed became the next ruler of Egypt, his problems long left behind him. The story gained notoriety as little as 150 years ago when an archaeologist cleared away the sand from the Sphinx and found a stone tablet between its paws describing the story of Prince Thutmose and the oath he made to the Great Sphinx of Giza.
2. The Great Wall Of China
There’re many legends surrounding the Great Wall of China. Our chosen one is a tragic romance.
The story of Meng Jiangnu is one of the most infamous tales and heartbreaking right from the start. It is said that a man and woman with the family name of Meng lived next to another couple who went by the family name of Jiang. Both of these couples were very happy, but neither had children. As the years went by, the Meng couple decided to plant a gourd vine. The vine grew successfully and ended up sprouting a gourd on the property of the Jiang couple.
Having been friends for a long time, the two couples decided to share the gourd. To their absolute amazement, when they split the gourd in the middle they found a baby inside it. It was a beautiful little girl. Just as with everything else, the two amazed couples decided they would share the upbringing of the little baby. They called her Meng Jiangnu.
Meng Jiangnu grew up to be a very beautiful young woman. She married a young man named Fan Xiliang after finding him hiding away from officials who were trying to force young men to start building the Great Wall. However, he couldn’t hide forever, and a mere three days after they wed, Xiliang was taken away to help others with the construction of the wall.
Meng was alone for an entire year, having received no news of progress on the wall nor of her husband’s well-being. After having a disturbing nightmare about Xiliang, she decided she couldn’t bear the silence anymore and went looking for him. After a long journey that saw her trawling through rivers and climbing hills and mountains, Meng reached the wall only to hear that her husband died of pure exhaustion and his final resting place was underneath the wall.
Meng could not control her grief and, after crying for three days straight, the part of the wall she was next to crumbled and collapsed. The emperor at the time felt that this woman needed to be punished for damaging the wall, but once he saw her beautiful face he asked for her hand in marriage instead. She agreed but requested three things from the Emperor in return. She wished to mourn for her husband Xiliang (including the emperor himself as well as his servants). She wanted a burial arranged for him, and she expressed the need to see the sea.
Meng Jiangnu never married again. After she attended the burial of Xiliang, she committed suicide by throwing herself into the ocean.
Another version of the legend says that as Meng Jiangnu cried and cried, the wall collapsed to the point where the skeletons of those workers who died were protruding from the ground below. Knowing that her husband was down there somewhere, Meng cut her fingers until they bled profusely and watched as the blood dripped over the bones of the dead. When her blood suddenly started centering around a particular skeleton and flowed into it, she knew she had found her husband. She then had him buried and ended her own life by jumping into the ocean.
3. Forbidden City – China
This monument is called the Forbidden City for a reason. Back in the day, you couldn’t just show up at the Forbidden City. If you did, you’d most likely have left without your head. Literally. The Forbidden City consists of several ancient buildings and palaces and is the largest of its kind in the world. It couldn’t be visited under Qing rule, and no one but emperors and their servants saw the inside of the city for over 500 years.
Fortunately, in modern times, visitors are allowed to explore the ancient complex and perhaps hear about some of the many legends surrounding it. One such legend has it that the four watchtowers in the Forbidden City were built as the result of a dream.
Allegedly, the Forbidden City under Ming rule had only very high walls, but not a watchtower in sight. The Yongle emperor was in charge in the 15th century and, at one point, had a vivid dream about the city. In his dream, he saw fantastic watchtowers decorating the four corners of the city. When the emperor awoke from his dream, he immediately set his builders to the task to transform the dream into reality.
The tale goes on to say that after a failed attempt by two sets of builders (and their eventual execution by beheading), the master-builder of the third set of builders was very nervous about taking on the job. However, after modeling the watchtowers after a grasshopper cage he had seen, the emperor could not be happier.
The master-builder also took care to include the number nine in the design of the building in order to please the emperor even more. The number nine is said to represent emperors. Also, the old man selling the grasshopper cages that inspired the master-builder of the watchtowers was said to be Lu Ban, who just happened to be the grandfather of all Chinese carpenters.
4. AchitChand Baori – India
Chand Baori is a stepwell situated in the village of Abhaneri in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Chand Baori consists of 3,500 narrow steps over 13 stories. It extends approximately 30 m (100 ft) into the ground, making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India.
According to the legend in the village of Abhaneri, where the Chand Baori stepwell lies, ghosts built this architectural marvel around the 10th century. As far-fetched as that may seem, there don’t seem to be any other explanations as to how this perfectly designed stepwell came to be.
Around 900 AD, King Chanda had it built to solve the area’s drought problem. He devoted it to the Goddess of Joy and Happiness, Hashat Mata, upon its completion. Details on its impressive construction remain a mystery.
5. Leshan Giant Buddha – China
Around the year 713 A.D., construction began on the Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan, China. The construction of this impressive monument, the largest statue of the pre-modern world, was halted for about 70 years due to funding issues.
The project was resumed and completed by the year 803 A.D. At the time, the raging rivers – which now calmly lay at the statue’s feet – made it difficult for ships to pass, hence why a Chinese monk sought to have the statue created. He felt the statue in Buddha’s honor would get the water to calm down. In the end, so much stone was carved out of the mountain to make the statue that when it fell into the water and stayed there, it actually did make the turbulent waters calmer and easier for ships to pass through. So, in a strange sort of way, we guess we can say that the monk got it right.
Built entirely by hand, this giant statue remains the largest statue of Buddha known to man.
SEE ALSO: 10 Mysterious Monuments Around The World
So, after all of these amazing examples, we truly believe we can say that behind every great monument, there is a great legend!