10 Legendary Lost Cities

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    The popular imagination is that lost cities were real, prosperous, well-populated areas, fell into terminal decline and whose locations have later been lost. Some lost cities at known sites have been studied extensively by scientists. Cities may become lost for a variety of reasons, including geographic, economic and social (e.g. war). So here is a list of 10 Legendary Lost Cities

    #10. The City of the Caesars


    The City of the Caesars  is a mythical city of South America. It is supposedly located somewhere in Patagonia, in some valley of the Andes between Chile and Argentina. Despite being searched for during the colonization of South America, no evidence proves that it ever existed. In 1766, the Jesuit Father José García Alsue explored the area now part of Queulat National Park in Aisén Region, Chile searching for the City of the Caesars.


    Most of the descriptions of the city talk about the city as a prosperous and rich city full of gold, silver and diamonds. At least one description, also says it was located in between two mountains, one of gold and another of diamonds. Sometimes it is described as an enchanted city that appears in certain moments. Said to have been founded by survivors from the shipwreck of a Spanish ship, and full of riches such as gold and silver. The alleged inhabitants of the city have been described as consisting of people of European descent who shipwrecked in the Strait of Magellan, survivors in exile of the Disaster of Curalaba, survivors of the Inca Empire, ghosts and Patagonian giants.

    #9. Troy


    Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida. It is best known for being the focus of the Trojan War described in the Greek Epi Cycle and especially in the Iliad, one of the two epic poems attributed to Homer.


    In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868 Heinrich Schliemann, wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. These excavations revealed several cities built in succession. Troy VII has been identified with the Hittite Wilusa, the probable origin of the Greek Ἴλιον, and is generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy. Today, Truva is a small Turkish city supporting the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site. Troia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998.

    #8. Memphis


    Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo. According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history. It occupied a strategic position at the mouth of the Nile delta, and was home to feverish activity. Its principal port, Peru-nefer, harboured a high density of workshops, factories, and warehouses that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom. During its golden age, Memphis thrived as a regional centre for commerce, trade, and religion.


    The history of Memphis is closely linked to that of the country itself. Its eventual downfall is believed to be due to the loss of its economical significance in late antiquity, following the rise of coastal Alexandria. Its religious significance also diminished after the abandonment of the ancient religion following the Edict of Thessalonica. The ruins of the former capital today offer fragmented evidence of its magnificent past. They have been preserved, along with the pyramid complex at Giza, as a World Heritage Site since 1979. The site is open to the public as an open-air museum.

    #7. Pompeii


    Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The eruption buried Pompeii under 4 to 6 meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for over 1,500 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1599. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year.


    Pompeii has been a popular tourist destination for 250 years; it was on the Grand Tour. In 2008, it was attracting almost 2.6 million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular tourist sites in Italy.

    #6. Machu Picchu


    Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World.


    The Incas started building the estate around AD 1400 but abandoned it as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction. Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.

    #5. Atlantis


    Atlantis  is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias. In Plato’s account, Atlantis was a naval power lying “in front of the Pillars of Hercules” that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean “in a single day and night of misfortune”.


    Scholars dispute whether and how much Plato’s story or account was inspired by older traditions. Some scholars argue Plato drew upon memories of past events such as the Thera eruption or the Trojan War, while others insist that he took inspiration from contemporary events like the destruction of Helike in 373 BCor the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC. The possible existence of a genuine Atlantis was discussed throughout classical antiquity, but it was usually rejected and occasionally parodied by later authors. As Alan Cameron states: “It is only in modern times that people have taken the Atlantis story seriously; no one did so in antiquity”.

    #4. Lost City of Z


    The Lost City of Z is the name given by Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British surveyor, to a city that he thought existed in the jungle of the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. This mysterious city is referenced in a document known as Manuscript 512, housed at the National Library of Rio De Janeiro by Portuguese explorer (bandeirante) João da Silva Guimarães who wrote that he visited the city in 1753. The city is described in great detail without providing a specific location. Fawcett allegedly heard about this city in the early 1900s and went to Rio de Janeiro to learn more, and came across the earlier report. He was about to go in search of the city when World War I intervened. In 1925, Fawcett, his son Jack, and Raleigh Rimell disappeared in the Mato Grosso while searching for Z.

    #3. Petra


    Petra  is a historic and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is known for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourism attraction. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.


    The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a Newdigate Prize-winning sonnet by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die”.

    #2. El Dorado


    El Dorado  is the name of a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and, as an initiation rite, dived into the lake Guatavita. Later it became the name of a legendary “Lost City of Gold” that has fascinated – and so far eluded – explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors. Imagined as a place, El Dorado became a kingdom, an empire, the city of this legendary golden king. In pursuit of the legend, Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro would depart from Quito in 1541 in a famous and disastrous expedition towards the Amazon Basin; as a result of this, however, Orellana became the first person known to navigate the Amazon River all the way to its mouth.

    #1. Angkor


    Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 13th centuries. The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a “universal monarch” and “god-king”, until 1431, when Ayutthayan invaders sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to the area of Phnom Penh.


    In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an elaborate system of infrastructure connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1000 square kilometres to the well-known temples at its core. The closest rival to Angkor, the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala, was between 100 and 150 square kilometres in total size. Although its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.

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