A city becomes lost when it is abandoned by its inhabitants and left to decay. This can be the result of war, migration, or natural disaster, but in each case these cities can act as a sort of time capsule, leaving a civilization frozen in history and waiting to be discovered. While many of these cities have indeed been rediscovered, others have never been found and have taken on the status of legend.
Whether real or mythical, here I have compiled some of the most famous lost cities that have captured the imaginations of historians, archeologists, and adventurers.
Described by Plato as an advanced civilization and formidable naval power, Atlantis is said to have conquered much of Europe before sinking into the sea as the result of some kind of environmental disaster. While Plato’s story is seen by most as a work of fiction, his description of a massive civilization years ahead of its time technologically has captured the imaginations of countless writers.
The City of the Caesars
Also known as the Wandering City and the City of Patagonia, The City of the Caesars is a mythical city that is believed to have been located on the southernmost tip of South America. The city has never been found, and at this point it is considered more legend than anything.
Troy was a once-legendary city located in modern day Tyrkey Troy was long considered by many to be the stuff of myth until it was first excavated in the 1870s. It was discovered that there were actually numerous cities on the site, which over the years had been built on top of one another.
The Lost City Of Z
Supposedly located deep in the jungles of Brazil, the lost city of Z was said to be an advanced civilization with a sophisticated network of bridges, roads, and temples. No evidence of its existence has ever been uncovered. In recent years, a city known as Kuhikugu was discovered in the Amazon Rainforest that showed evidence of sophisticated fortifications and engineering, leading many to speculate that it may be the source of the Z legend.
Arguably the most beautiful of all the cities on this list, Petra is located in Jordon. Its most striking feature is its exquisite stone architecture, which is carved out of the rocks of the surrounding mountains. It was explored in 18th century.
One of the most famous of all the legendary cities, El Dorado was a mythical empire supposedly found in the jungles of South America. The city was said to be led by a powerful king and hold untold riches of gold and jewels.
Founded in 3,100 B.C., Memphis was the capital of ancient Egypt, and served as the civilization’s administrative center for hundreds of years before being abandoned with the rise of Thebes and Alexandria. Unfortunately, stones from the ruins had been appropriated to build nearby settlements, and many important parts of the site remain lost to historians.
The Angkor region of Cambodia and its surroundings which big in size have since been recognized as the biggest pre-industrial city in the world, and its famed temple of Angkor Wat is commonly considered to be the largest religious monument in existence.
The Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed in AD 79 after the nearby volcano Vesuvius erupted and buried the entire community under 60 feet of ash and rock. The city was estimated to have had around 20,000 inhabitants at the time, and it was considered one of the premier vacation spots for the upper class of Roman society.
Isolated near the Urubamba Valley in Peru, the city was never found and plundered by conquistadors, and it was not until historian Hiram Bingham visited it in 1911. It was said to be a prison, but recent research suggests that it was probably a personal estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti.