Has it ever occurred to you that there may be a time in the future when the future generation might be standing on the ruins of the Statue of Liberty or the White House and trying to explore the past life surrounding it? There might be a time that the current chaotic New York City will be nothing more than one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world? Seems hard to imagine? It was hard to believe for the residents of cities like Machu Picchu and Troy. Could they ever imagine that their gorgeous city will turn into one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world?
Many of us have read or known about Atlantis, the mythical city that is believed to be somewhere under the deep sea. But did you know not only in myths but in reality as well there are lost cities of the world that can blow your mind? Through this article, we will take you to the journey of the top 10 beautiful lost cities of the world. They were civilized once upon a time, but now only the ruin remains. But even the ruins are enough for any creative mind to imagine how picturesque they might have been. Read ahead to feed your travel bug to add some unseen places on your bucket list-
1. Machu Picchu, Peru; One of the Most Beautiful Lost Cities of the World
Machu Picchu was not only a fascinating city of Peru but also a gem to the whole world. Around 1450, the Inca rulers of Peru built this city as an estate for the then Incan emperor Pachacuti. The city was built on the slopes of the Andes mountain range of Peru. The main structure was nestled on the top of the Urubamba hill. Even though the Spanish invasion to South America led to the city’s destruction in just 100 years of building, it remains to be one of the most beautiful lost cities in the world.
How the city was built is known yet unknown to the archaeologists. Each structure of the city bears the undeniable evidence of the Inca Empire being at its best. You can find everything there. Stairs, cemetery, temples, plaza, buildings, agriculture reservoir, and what not! Most interestingly, if you research a little more, you will know that this place is prone to earthquakes, but still, the whole city of Machu Picchu stands strong. How?
That’s the example of advanced engineering at its peak. The stone-carved structures are made so precisely, and they fit together so tightly that you can’t even insert a needle into the cracks. And guess what these all without the use of mortar. Another fact that will blow your mind, the city is said to dance upon earthquake. The stones move to and fro in rhythm and keep the structures intact. Despite being one of the gorgeous lost cities of the world still has secrets hidden in its walls.
Archaeologists are still thriving to reveal the hidden mysteries of Machu Picchu and unleash the secrets of the Inca Empire. In 1911 Hiram Bingham III discovered Machu Picchu while searching for hidden Inca capital Vilcabamba. And from then, Machu Picchu is fascinating the travel and mystery bugs from all over the world with its beauty and mysteries. In 1983 the UNESCO included this gorgeous city in the list of World Heritage Site.
2. Troy, Turkey; the War City of Iliad And Odyssey
When Homer mentioned Troy as the city where the Trojan War took place, could anyone imagine that someday the famous town of the poem will be found in real too? In the late 19th century, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann dug deep around Hisarlik and found one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world literature. The city of Troy influenced Homer to give us two of his best literary works, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Homer’s works tell us about the furious war between the Greeks and Trojans that continued for ten years. The Iliad tells us the last phase of the 10-year long war, whereas the Odyssey gives us a picture of the aftermath. In reality, too, archaeologists have found out traces of a deadly war that led to the destruction of such a massive city. Yes, it is massive. So massive that archaeologists think Troy was not only one city; it was the combination of at least ten huge cities.
Similar to Homer’s descriptions, high stone walls and underground bases were found around the city. According to the poems, the Trojan people built them to rescue themselves from the earth-shaker horse of God Poseidon. By the time with several archaeologists digging deeper and deeper, more mysterious things came under light. For example, the massive size of the city was unbelievable compared to most lost cities of the world. Moreover, traces were found that prove the city was under foreign influence and multi-cultured.
A lot more is waiting to be revealed. And maybe someday we will find proof of the love affair between Trojan Prince, Paris, and Spartan king Menelaus’ wife, Helen. The love affair that led to the horrifying war of Trojan, and ultimately prompted Troy to destruction. But to date, Troy remains one of the most beautiful lost cities in the world and worth visiting more than once.
3. Angkor, Cambodia; the Stone City of Cambodia
Another fantastic pick up in the list of most beautiful lost cities of the world. Angkor was built in the deep forests of Siem Reap province of Cambodia back in the 9th Century. The elegant stone structure will draw your attention from miles away. The most prominent and fascinating structure of the complex is a Hindu temple. And you will be more surprised to know that Angkor is the largest preindustrial city in the world.
Khmer King Suryavarman II built this temple in the early 12th century, and it is one of the biggest Hindu temples in the world. It is the same temple you can see on the national flag of Cambodia. Going through the early Angkor scriptures, archaeologists have found that, this temple was built to represent the home for Lord Vishnu, Mount Meru.
Though the scriptures remain silent about the mystery behind the city being abandoned and why a Hindu temple turned into a Buddhist spiritual area? In 1992, the UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site. This is one of those lost cities of the world that attract millions of tourists every year for its divine nature and fascinating Khmer culture.
Related Article: The Lost Cities Of The World
4. Petra, Jordan; the City From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
All Indiana Jones fans out there have seen Indiana Jones making his mark on the screens through the streets of Petra. Yes, a lot of scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed in Petra. But where is it? And why is it in our list of lost cities in the world? Have a look below-
Seeing the picture above, I know you have already got how beautiful Petra is. And the fascinating fact is, the whole city was carved out precisely and artistically from pink stones. The Nabataeans built the city of Petra back in 312 B.C. Even though this city was an important mark on the Silk Route; it got abandoned due to severe earthquakes. But even the ruins are more than breathtaking. This gorgeous beauty would stay hidden if Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt didn’t discover it in 1812.
Each structure of Petra is the perfect example of the raw beauty of nature. But the city is so mysteriously gorgeous, that archaeologists couldn’t reveal even the half of the secrets these marvelous pink walls hide inside them. Be it the pink honeycomb or the 250 feet sandstone slot canyon (known as the Siq); Petra calls up the whole world to be stunned by its Nabataean and Greco-Roman architectures.
5. Pompeii, Italy; the Lost Holiday Spot of Wealthy Romans
Around 2000 years ago the Roman emperors built a spectacular city to spend holidays. From an advanced drainage system to lavish winery and luxurious residential buildings, Pompeii had it all. The lifestyle of the people was perfect until one day…
The whole sky got covered with sulfurous gas and ashes. The nearby volcano of Mount Vesuvius had erupted. Struggle for life got buried under the volcanic ash, and so did the whole city. That was one of the most horrifying natural disasters in history that forced Pompeii to become one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world.
Even after such a terrible natural disaster, several other natural and human-made disasters led the whole city to turn into ruins. The extraordinary architecture turned into ruins that were almost impossible for anyone to enter. But when the storied House of Gladiators collapsed in Pompeii, the state initiated the Pompeii Project to reconstruct and reserve such a fascinating archaeological site. For all travelers to Italy, Pompeii is a must-visit and remains to be one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world.
6. Skara Brae, Scotland; the Fascinating British Pre-Historic Village
Skara Brae is the most spectacular pre-historic village of Britain and one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world. But it would stay hidden if the furious storm on the Orkney Islands did not remove the decades-old earthly covering from it. Yes, for decades, this whole village was covered under sand, soil, and plants.
Upon discovering the archaeologists found out that this village might have been built in 3000 B.C. (New Stone Age). Yes, that makes it way older the pyramids and even the Stonehenge of England. Not only is this village is splendid, but also it is one of the most mysterious lost cities of the world. Why is it mysterious? Just look below-
See these circular structures? These are the houses of Skara Brae. The houses are built with slabs of stones underground, and it has bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens all connected with a common passage. How did we know which is the bedroom and which is the living room? That’s the more surprising fact of this city. Even the beds, fireplaces, furniture- everything has stood the test of time and to date remain intact! Admit now; it is one of the most mysterious yet gorgeous lost cities of the world.
The remains of bones, agricultural, and hunting tools found here prove that the residents of this village were skilled and had a good lifestyle. But when and how did they vanish? Why did this city get abandoned to make it one of the most beautiful lost cities of the world? Questions are many, but the search for the answers is still going on.
7. Babylon, Iraq; the Crown Holder among the Lost Cities of the World
The list of lost cities of the world stays incomplete if we don’t mention historical Babylon. The hometown of the Garden of Eden, Babylon, surely defeats all other lost cities of the world in every field, be it splendor, age, development, or mystery. Babylon was the first child of civilized human society. By the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, Babylon was at the peak of everything, from technology to agriculture. And everything was protected by a wall wide enough to pass eight horses side by side.
But today it remains only in the pages of history and the list of lost cities of the world. Babylon was decorated perfectly by the expert architect Hammurabi. From gold-clad towers, shining temples to dazzling palaces- Hammurabi’s fascinating work made Babylon the world’s largest and the most glorious capital of that time. But the most exquisite structures of Babylon was the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Garden of Babylon. Even the Old Testament defined this tower as the residence of the frontier between heaven and earth.
Most of Babylon is known to the present world by the works of Greek Historian Herodotus. War, natural disaster, looting, and weak administration led Babylon to the oath of destruction. Today it shines on the list of lost cities of the world and a place of tourist attraction. If you are visiting Babylon, make sure to look around and try to figure out the mystery from the inscriptions on each brick of this crown holder among lost cities of the world.
8. Mohenjo Dro, Pakistan; the Faceless Lost City
Similar to Babylon, Mohenjo Daro was one of the most glorious lost cities of the world. Discovered in 1921 in the Sindh provinces of Pakistan, to date, Mohenjo Daro keeps the explorers engaged in revealing its mysteries. Mohenjo Daro was one of the best planned lost cities of the world. Each house had wells, adequate drainage systems, designed rooms, and bathing areas. Archaeologists have found out the central pool in the middle of the city known as the Great Bath.
The most interesting fact is this phenomenal city was built in around 2500 B.C., but all the structures are so perfectly engineered and made with baked bricks, that you will be confused if ancient architects or some modern-day expert builds them. Even though a lot of gold beads, pottery, jewels, silver plates, ivory, and other precious things were found all around the city, one thing has left the explorers under a huge question mark. Unlike all other lost cities of the world, why does Mohenjo Daro not have any traces of the existence of kings or queens?
There is not a single trace of the existence of any ostentatious palaces, monuments, religious places, or even any difference in the residential areas. Was Mohenjo Daro the first democracy in the world? The answer is still a mystery. Another thing that puzzles the experts is, how did the city put its name in the list of lost cities of the world? There are no traces of human-made or natural disasters. No transcriptions to tell what happened and why?
But the discovery of seals reveals the people were more systematic than you can ever expect such an ancient civilization to be. With a lot of mysteries, Mohenjo Daro stands still as one of the most impressive lost cities of the world. And the experts are thriving day and night to unleash the mysteries of Mohenjo Daro.
9. Tikal, Guatemala; One of the Best Preserved Lost Cities of the World
Other lost cities of the world can be more beautiful than Tikal, but in case of preservation, this ancient beauty of Guatemala leaves them all behind. This mysterious Mayan city was built back in 800 A.D. by the Mayan civilization. An interesting fact is such a huge city was built in the middle of the dense forest of Guatemala.
All around the place, you can find distinguished plazas, sports complexes, residential areas, and what not! And everything has stood strong in the test of time. Just instead of humans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and more than 285 bird species have made this city their residential area. The structures are pyramid-like, surrounded by steep stairs of limestone. The highest structure is of a temple pointing out the religious side of the ancient Mayan civilization.
All around you can find traces of a developed civilization who built their city with utmost efforts and brilliancy. But why did they choose a place in the middle of a dense forest without any permanent river or any other water sources nearby? And what led the inhabitants to abandon the city by the 10th century is another mystery waiting to be solved. Be it whatever, the scale of preservation of the mysterious pyramid-shaped temples, glorious palaces, and inscribed stone monuments makes it one of the most beautiful yet mysterious lost cities of the world.
10. Teotihuacan, Mexico; the Lost City Whose Builders are Still Unknown
Teotihuacan is perhaps one of the very few lost cities of the world that has not revealed anything about who built it and why? Teotihuacan is a lost city just 30 miles from Mexico City. According to the archaeologists, Teotihuacan was the largest city of the Western Hemisphere even before the Aztec came to Mexico. Yes, that means the city was built way before 100 B.C. But it was the Aztec, who found this city and being awestruck gave its current name. They also believed that city was built by Gods and Gods used to reside here.
Throughout the city, a lot of structures can be found that preserve the traces of ancient Mayan, Zapotec, and Mixtec cultures. The city had everything from residential complexes, a huge central roadway to the Temple of Sun, and the Temple of Moon. But what puzzles the experts is, why is there not a single proof of any weapons or any military structures anywhere? And what can be the reason behind building pyramid-like temples that are comparable to the largest pyramid of Egypt?
The more mysterious finding is the discovery of an underground tunnel that had proofs to be used for passing the river of mercury at a time. The discovery of bodies of humans and animals inside the temples with their heads lobbed off gives rise to the speculations of human and animal sacrificing by the people residing in Teotihuacan. Who built the city? Why did they make it? And why did they even abandon it? All such questions are still waiting to be answered.
The list of most beautiful lost cities in the world doesn’t end here. There are a lot more lost cities in the world that can blow your mind. But we have picked up the top 10 lost cities of the world. Want us to add some more? Please go ahead and add your thoughts in the comment section below. And thank us later for feeding the travel bug in you with some ideas to add in your bucket list!