It’s an exploit fantasy strongly instilled in the human’s psyche to venture through the dense jungles and vast ruins that are untouched for centuries. This quest of humans started more vigorously in the time of 19th and 20th-century explorers. Lost cities, hidden from the outside world, offer important knowledge about the past when they’re discovered and investigated. And these are some of the famous world’s greatest lost cities that you probably have heard.
World’s Greatest Lost Cities
Usually, the people who lived in such places left or died due to war or conquest, disease, economic calamity, or natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, or volcanic eruptions. A number of these sites around the world are usually centered near previously flourishing civilizations.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Possibly the most famous rediscovered city and now one of the incredible heritage sites, Machu Picchu lies high in the Peruvian Andes. On July 24, 1911, the explorer Hiram Bingham first laid eyes on the grand site. The local people, though, had known about the ruins and actually revealed Bingham the way—but his statements became the first time the place was made known to the world at large.
“Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stone work,” he recorded in his 1948 bestseller Lost City of the Incas. Even though Machu Picchu was left as the Incan empire fell in the 16th century, the Spanish invaders never found it. It remained mostly undisturbed until Bingham’s arrival.
When Bingham found Machu Picchu, he was actually searching for—and assumed he’d found—Vilcabamba, the “lost city of the Incas” that was the emperor’s last refuge before being defeated by Spanish invaders. Ironically, excursions after his death showed Bingham had found Vilcabamba. It wasn’t Machu Picchu, though; it was another nearby site called Espiritu Pampa.
In the biblical land of Mesopotamia, this flourishing and dominant city once stood. Renowned for its characters throughout the Bible, the original site of Babylon existed in what is now Iraq, about 50 miles south of Baghdad. After being conquered by the Persians and then the Greeks, Babylon ultimately fell into ruins and was covered by the desert.
In 79 AD, a huge eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the nearby city of Pompeii and some of its inhabitants under 20 feet of ash and rock. The location of the city was slowly lost to history, but it was rediscovered in the 15th century by an architect mapping to build on the site. Diggings didn’t start until 1748 but have continued ever since.
One of the oldest rediscovered cities in the world, this Indus Valley Civilization settlement records back to 2500 BC—but the people who lived here still remain an enigma. The city is enormous and well-organized, and it even has a sewer system, but the absence of temples or royal palaces implies an egalitarian society. Mohenjo-Daro means ” Mounds of the dead.”
This may sound ridiculous, but today’s reliable explorers believe the sunken city of Atlantis is totally made-up. Though, ancient ruins are seldom found beneath the sea, pointing to sensationalized headlines that Atlantis has been found. As in a 2018 claim, many treasure hunters have believed the city to be located somewhere near the coast of southern Spain.
For many years explorers sought, believing the city to be in the ocean. But they found a dead end until Greek archaeologist Dora Katsonopoulou had an opinion: What if the ancient account of the tragedy could refer to an inland lagoon? The explorers then had to study the dynamic geography of the region, because, in the modern-day, there were no lagoons in the area where Helike was supposed to be. Eventually, in 2001, Katsonopoulou discovered the city. Although the ruins aren’t as magnificent as some others we’ve seen, they sure have one of the most compelling tales behind their discovery.
Talking of the legendary beauty Helen of Troy, the city—and probably the war named after it—was true, and not just a tale told in Homer’s ancient Greek poem The Iliad. A German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (presumably) found in the 1870s, on a hill called Hissarlik. The hill actually comprises of layers of many cities built over thousands of years, which possibly included the one reported in The Iliad—except that Schliemann removed that layer during his excavations.
The well-preserved “city of the Persians,” also called Takht-e Jamshid, was built by the ancient Achaemenid (Persian) empire around 500 BC. Although it was raided and mostly demolished by Alexander the Great 200 years later, much of the central part of the city still survives today.