LOST CITIES OF THE WORLD

 

It’s hard to imagine how an entire city can get lost but that’s exactly what has happened to the lost cities on this list. There are actually many reasons why a city has to be abandoned. War, natural disasters, climate change and the loss of important trading partners to name a few. Whatever the cause, these lost cities were forgotten in time until they were rediscovered centuries later.

Carthage

Carthage

Located in present-day Tunisia, Carthage was founded by Phoenician colonists and became a major power in the Mediterranean. The resulting rivalry with Syracuse and Rome was accompanied by several wars with respective invasions of each other’s homeland, most notable the invasion of Italy by Hannibal. The city was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. The Romans went from house to house, capturing, raping and enslaving the people before setting Carthage ablaze. However, the Romans re-founded Carthage, which became one of the Empire’s largest and most important city. It remained an important city until it was destroyed a second time in 698 AD during the Muslim conquest.

Ciudad Perdida

Ciudad Perdida

Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for “Lost City”) is an ancient city in Sierra Nevada, Colombia, believed to have been founded around 800 AD. The lost city consists of a series of terraces carved into the mountainside, a net of tiled roads and several small circular plazas. Members of local tribes call the city Teyuna and believe it was the heart of a network of villages inhabited by their forebears, the Tairona. It was apparently abandoned during the Spanish conquest.

Troy

Troy

Troy is a legendary city in what is now northwestern Turkey, made famous in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. According to Iliad, this is where the Trojan War took place. The archaeological site of Troy contains several layers of ruins. The layer Troy VIIa was probably the Troy of Homer and has been dated to the mid- to late-13th century BC.

Memphis

Memphis

Memphis, founded around 3,100 BC, is the legendary city of Menes, the King who united Upper and Lower Egypt. Early on, Memphis was more likely a fortress from which Menes controlled the land and water routes between Upper Egypt and the Delta. By the Third Dynasty, Saqqara had become a sizable city. It fell successively to Nubia, Assyria, Persia, and Macedonia under Alexander the Great. Its importance as a religious centre was undermined by the rise of Christianity and then of Islam. It was abandoned after the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 640 AD. Its ruins include the great temple of Ptah, royal palaces, and a colCaralossal statue of Rameses II. Nearby are the pyramids of Saqqara.

Caral

Caral

Located in the Supe Valley in Peru, Caral is one of the most ancient lost cities of the Americas. It was as inhabited between roughly 2600 BC and 2000 BC. Accommodating more than 3,000 inhabitants, it is one of the largest cities of the Norte Chico civilization. It has a central public area with six large platform mounds arranged around a huge plaza. All of the lost cities in the Supe valley share similarities with Caral. They had small platforms or stone circles. Caral was probably the focus of this civilization.

Babylon

Babylon

Babylon, the capital of Babylonia, an ancient empire of Mesopotamia, was a city on the Euphrates River. The city degenerated into anarchy circa 1180 BC, but flourished once again as a subsidiary state of the Assyrian Empire after the 9th century BC. The brilliant color and luxury of Babylon became legendary from the days of Nebuchadnezzar (604-562 BC), who is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens. All that remains of the famed city today is a mound of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq.

Taxila

Taxila

Located in northwestern Pakistan, Taxila is an ancient city that was annexed by the Persian King Darius the Great in 518 BC. In 326 BC the city was surrendered to Alexander the Great. Ruled by a succession of conquerors, the city became an important Buddhist centre. The apostle Thomas reputedly visited Taxila in the 1st century AD. Taxila’s prosperity in ancient times resulted from its position at the junction of three great trade routes. When they declined, the city sank into insignificance. It was finally destroyed by the Huns in the 5th century.

Sukhothai

Sukhothai

Sukhothai is one of Thailand’s earliest and most important historical cities. Originally a provincial town within the Angkor-based Khmer empire, Sukhothai gained its independence in the 13th century and became established as the capital of the first united and independent Tai state. The ancient town is reported to have had some 80,000 inhabitants. After 1351, when Ayutthaya was founded as the capital of a powerful rival Tai dynasty, Sukhothai’s influence began to decline, and in 1438 the town was conquered and incorporated into the Ayutthaya kingdom. Sukhothai was abandoned in the late 15th or early 16th century.

Timgad

Timgad

Timgad was a Roman colonial town in Algeria founded by the Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. Originally designed for a population of around 15,000, the city quickly outgrew its original specifications and spilled beyond the orthogonal grid in a more loosely-organized fashion. In the 5th Century, the city was sacked by the Vandals and two centuries later by the Berbers. The city disappeared from history, becoming one the lost cities of the Roman Empire, until its excavation in 1881.

Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-daro

Built around 2600 BC in present-day Pakistan, Mohenjo-daro was one of the early urban settlements in the world. It is sometimes referred to as “An Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis”. It has a planned layout based on a grid of streets, which were laid out in perfect patterns. At its height the city probably had around 35,000 residents. The buildings of the city were particularly advanced, with structures constructed of same-sized sun dried bricks of baked mud and burned wood. Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Valley civilization vanished without a trace from history around 1700 BC until discovered in the 1920s.

Sanchi

Sanchi

The Sanchi site has a building history of more than one thousand year, starting with the stupas of the 3rd century BC and concluding with a series of Buddhist temples and monasteries, now in ruins, that were build in the 10th or 11th centuries. In the 13th century, after the decline of Buddhism in India, Sanchi was abandoned and the jungle quickly moved in. The lost city was rediscovered in 1818 by a British officer.

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

The vast adobe city of Chan Chan in Peru was the largest city in pre-Columbian America. The building material used was adobe brick, and the buildings were finished with mud frequently adorned with patterned relief arabesques. The centre of the city consists of several walled citadels which housed ceremonial rooms, burial chambers and temples. The city was built by the Chimu around 850 AD and lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in 1470 AD. It is estimated that around 30,000 people lived in the city of Chan Chan.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde, in southwestern Colorado, is home to the famous cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi people. In the 12th century, the Anasazi start building houses in shallow caves and under rock overhangs along the canyon walls. Some of these houses were as large as 150 rooms. By 1300, all of the Anasazi had left the Mesa Verde area, but the ruins remain almost perfectly preserved. The reason for their sudden departure remains unexplained. Theories range from crop failures due to droughts to an intrusion of foreign tribes from the North.

Persepolis

Persepolis

Persepolis (Capital of Persia in Greek) was the center and ceremonial capital of the mighty Persian Empire. It was a beautiful city, adorned with precious artworks of which unfortunately very little survives today. In 331 BC, Alexander the Great, in the process of conquering the Persian Empire, burnt Persepolis to the ground as a revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of Athens. Persepolis remained the capital of Persia as a province of the great MaVijayanagaracedonian Empire but gradually declined in the course of time.

Vijayanagara

Vijayanagara

Vijaynagar was once one the largest cities in the world with 500,000 inhabitants. The Indian city flourished between the 14th century and 16th century, during the height of the power of the Vijayanagar empire. During this time, the empire was often in conflict with the Muslim kingdoms. In 1565, the empire’s armies suffered a massive and catastrophic defeat and Vijayanagara was taken. The victorious Muslim armies then proceeded to raze, depopulate, and destroy the city and its Hindu temples over a period of several months. Despite the empire continuing to exist thereafter during a slow decline, the original capital was not reoccupied or rebuilt. It has not been occupied since.

Calakmul

Calakmul

Hidden inside the jungles of the Mexican state of Campeche, Calakmul is one of the largest Maya cities ever uncovered. Calakmul was a powerful city that challenged the supremacy of Tikal and engaged in a strategy of surrounding it with its own network of allies. From the second half of the 6th century AD through to the late 7th century Calakmul gained the upper hand although it failed to extinguish Tikal’s power completely and Tikal was able to turn the tables on its great rival in a decisive battle that took place in 695 AD. Eventually both cities succumbed to the spreading Maya collapse.

Palmyra

Palmyra

For centuries Palmyra (“city of palm trees”) was an important and wealthy city located along the caravan routes linking Persia with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria. Beginning in 212, Palmyra’s trade diminished as the Sassanids occupied the mouth of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The Roman Emperor Diocletian built a wall and expanded the city in order to try and save it from the Sassanid threat. The city was captured by the Muslim Arabs in 634 but kept intact. The city declined under Ottoman rule, reducing to no more than an oasis village. In the 17th century its location was rediscovered by western travelers.

Ani

Ani

Situated along a major east-west caravan route, Ani first rose to prominence in the 5th century AD and had become a flourishing town and the capital of Armenia in the 10th century. The many churches built there during this period included some of the finest examples of medieval architecture and earned its nickname as the “City of 1001 Churches”. At its height, Ani had a population of 100,000 to 200,000 people. It remained the chief city of Armenia until Mongol raids in the 13th century, a devastating earthquake in 1319, and shifting trade routes sent it into an irreversible decline. Eventually the city was abandoned and largely forgotten for centuries. The ruins are now located in Turkey.

Palenque

Palenque

Palenque in Mexico is much smaller than some of the other lost cities of the Mayan, but it contains some of the finest architecture and sculptures the Maya ever produced. Most structures in Palenque date from about 600 AD to 800 AD. The city declined during the 8th century. An agricultural population continued to live here for a few generations, then the lost city was abandoned and was slowly grown over by the forest.

Pompeii

Pompeii

On August 24, 79 AD, the volcano Vesuvius erupted, covering the nearby town Pompeii with ash and soil, and subsequently preserving the city in its state from that fateful day. Everything from jars and tables to paintings and people were frozen in time. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum, were abandoned and eventually their names and locations were forgotten. They were rediscovered as the results of excavations in the 18th century. The lost cities have provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of people living two thousand years ago.

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan

In the 2nd century BC a new civilization arose in the valley of Mexico. This civilization built the flourishing metropolis of Teotihuacán and it’s huge step pyramids. A decline in population in the 6th century AD has been correlated to lengthy droughts related to the climate changes. Seven centuries after the demise of the Teotihuacán empire the pyramids of the lost city were honored and utilized by the Aztecs and became a place of pilgrimage.

Petra

Petra

Petra, the fabled “rose red city, half as old as time”, was the ancient capital of the Nabataean kingdom. A vast, unique city, carved into the side of the Wadi Musa Canyon in southern Jordan centuries ago by the Nabataeans, who turned it into an important junction for the silk and spice routes that linked China, India and southern Arabia with Egypt, Greece and Rome. After several earthquakes crippled the vital water management system the city was almost completely abandoned in the 6th century. After the Crusades, Petra was forgotten in the Western world until the lost city was rediscovered by the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor is a vast temple city in Cambodia featuring the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century AD. These include the famous Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest single religious monument, and the Bayon temple (at Angkor Thom) with its multitude of massive stone faces. During its long history Angkor went through many changes in religion converting between Hinduism to Buddhism several times. The end of the Angkorian period is generally set as 1431, the year Angkor was sacked and looted by Ayutthaya invaders, though the civilization already had been in decline. Nearly all of Angkor was abandoned, except for Angkor Wat, which remained a Buddhist shrine.

Machu Picchu

#1 of Lost Cities

One of the most famous lost cities in the world, Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by Hawaiian historian Hiram after it lay hidden for centuries above the Urubamba Valley. The “Lost City of the Incas” is invisible from below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs. Although known locally in Peru, it was largely unknown to the outside world before being rediscovered in 1911.

Source: Touropia

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