We have all seen those Hollywood adventure movies where a multimillionaire villain tries to find the lost treasure in an underground lost city. Do you know how many lost cities have been rediscovered? Here are the top 12 lost cities you should visit around the world.
Thebes was the capital of the ancient Egyptian Empire and was called Nowe or Nuwe, meaning 'City of Amon', named after its chief god. Today the city is called Luxor, located on both sides of the Nile River, as Thebes was. In Luxor, you can still find some of the most important archaeological sites, like the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Ramesseum (temple of Ramesses II), the temple of Ramesses III, and the grand temple complex of Queen Hatshepsut.
2. Leptis Magna - Libya
Leptis Magna, located in the southeast of Tripoli, will make you feel as if you were in a city during the Roman Empire. It was said to be one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire. It still contains some of the world’s finest remains of Roman architecture including the basilica, one of the grandest buildings constructed at Leptis, a racecourse and a amphitheatre seating up to 15,000 spectators on arched terraces overlooking the sea.
Sukhothai is a historical capital of a former kingdom of Thailand, it is one of Thailand's earliest and most important historical settlements. This city is located in between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, being easily accesible from both cities. All the ruins from the ancient city are located in the Historical Park, with around 200 wats (temples) and chedi (stupas), that were excavated and partly reconstructed. But one of the temples that you must visit is the Wat Mahathat, which was once the largest temple in Sukhothai and where you will find a magnificent Buddha statue in front of a lotus-shaped stupa.
Angkor Wat is a temple complex situated near Siĕmréab. This religious complex contains more than a thousand buildings, and it is one of the great cultural wonders of the world. This temple is said to represent Mount Meru, the Mount Olympus of the Hindu faith, which is why the place is surrounded by water, just as the Mount Meru is believed to be. Angkor Wat is the heart and soul of Cambodia, which is why is a must-visit when travelling to Cambodia.
Pompeii is a preserved Roman city in Campania, located in the southeast of Naples. On AD 79, an eruption from Mount Vesuvius showered volcanic debris over Pompeii, everything was destroyed and the city was buried beneath a blanket of ash. But on 1700, the city was rediscovered with perfectly preserved remains thanks to the blanket of ash. Today, Pompeii is divided in three main areas: the Forum, the Triangular Forum, and the Amphitheatre and Palaestra. Even so, most of the city was excavated so you can walk around and imagine how the beautiful Pompeii was before the eruption.
This lost city is said to be the oldest known monumental structures, being older than Stonehenge in the United Kindgom, the history of human civilization remains in the secrets Gobekli Tepe holds. Göbekli Tepe, meaning 'Potbelly Hill' in English, being the first temple ever built, makes it a must-visit to travel all the way back in history to the start of civilization.
The 'rose-red city half as old as time', according to the 19th-century English biblical scholar John William Burgon, was once a thriving trading centre and the capital of the Nabataean empire. Because of the city's history, today you can see varying blends of Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectural styles, but what makes it so special is that Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. This lost city is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.
Persepolis is the ancient capital of the kings of the Achaemenian dynasty of Iran (at the time Persia), situated in the northeast of Shīrāz. This city was bluit on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where an impressive palace complex was created inspired by Mesopotamian models. Persepolis was a spring/summer palace and was located in a remote location, not even the Greeks knew it existed, until Alexander the Great in BC 330 sacked and plundered it, and burned it to the grounds. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.
Chichén Itzá is a ruined ancient Maya city in south-central Yucatán state, Mexico. The name Chichén comes from the two big cenotes on the site, making it a suitable place for the city, chi ('mouths'), chen ('wells'), and Itzá, the name of the Maya tribe that settled there. This lost city was one of the most important cities in pre-Hispanic America, and it's one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. The city is divided in two: Old Chichén, where you can find 6 Maya ruins, and Chichén Itzá, where you can find about 20 Maya ruins. The main Mayan Ruin is the Chichen Itza Pyramid (or El Castillo), but there are other equaly important as El Caracol or Observatory, The Temple of The Warriors and the Mayan Ball Game.
Mesa Verde was built by one of America’s oldest cultures, the Pueblo people. This city was built on the mesas and in the cliffs of Mesa Verde, Colorado, and people lived in dwellings carved into those cliffs along a mountain range. Today, the lost city became a National Park open to visitors to experience how life was like 1,400 years ago for Ancestral Pueblo people. Here not only you can explore around cliff dwellings, but also enjoy the wildlife of the park.
Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimú kingdom and the largest city in pre-Columbian America, now a great ruined and abandoned city. This lost city is located on the northern coast of Peru. The centre of the city consists of several walled citadels. Each of these contains pyramide temples, cemeteries, gardens, reservoirs, and symmetrically arranged rooms. This city was enormously wealthy, but at the time it lacked one main thing: water. Today, Chan Chan is threatened by too much water, which could wash the city away through time. So you should enjoy this lost city as it last and visit it during your next vacation in Peru.
Tikal is the city and ceremonial centre of the ancient Maya civilization, but also the largest urban centre in the southern Maya lowlands. Today, the lost city became a National Park, located in what is now the northern part of the region of Petén, Guatemala, in a tropical rainforest. Plus, it's also part of the one-million-hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve created in 1990 to protect the dense forests of the Petén. The centre alone of the city contains 3,000 buildings and covers about 16 square kilometres, making it a nice park to walk around and discover most of the buildings and temples.
Now that you know what you need to know about the top 12 lost cities around the world, which one are you going to visit first? If the Indiana Jones in your heart sparked up, check out this page to find out more about World Heritage sites.