The Unearthing of 20 Worldly Enigmas: The Ancient Lost Cities That Emerged from the Shadows

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An amphitheater in the lost city of Troy

Perhaps in the faraway future, one of our offspring will gaze upon the remains of Taj Mahal or Statue Of Liberty and ponder about the settlements nearby. It won’t be surprising if, by then, many current cities would already be submerged. After all, history mentions numerous ancient vanished cities of the world that were engulfed, deserted, or simply lost in the wilderness.

Ruins of the fire altars at Kalibangan

Many of these vanished cities of the world were gradually forgotten with the passage of time until some wanderer or historian unintentionally or deliberately stumbled upon the remains. Thanks to these individuals, we became aware of these concealed splendid places in the world.

The list of ancient lost cities of the world seems endless. However, to simplify things for you, we have compiled some of the vanished cities of the world that were ultimately discovered. Take a look!

Most Fascinating Vanished Cities Of The World

Exploring locations that were once significant hubs of trade, economy, and culture but lost their significance as centuries passed reveals mysterious tales of days gone by. Here is the list of the vanished cities of the world, starting with domestic sites followed by international hidden treasures. Read on to discover the intriguing details about the vanished cities of the world:

  • Kalibangan – Rajasthan
  • Lothal – Gujarat
  • Dwarka – Gujarat
  • Sanchi – Madhya Pradesh
  • Vijayanagara – Hampi
  • Mohenjo-daro – Sindh
  • Taxila – Rawalpindi
  • Caral – Barranca
  • Machu Picchu – Cusco
  • Calakmul – Campeche
  • Lagunita – Yucatán
  • Göbekli Tepe – Örencik
  • Troy – Çanakkale
  • Mesa Verde – Colorado
  • Skara Brae – Orkney
  • Pompeii – Campania
  • Leptis Magna – Khoms
  • Helike – Achaea
  • Heracleion – Alexandria
  • Petra – Ma’an Governorate

Ruins of the ancient Indian city of Lothal in Gujarat

1. Kalibangan – Rajasthan

Source of the Image

The unique flame altars and the world’s earliest documented plowed field are what make Kalibangan so significant among the other vanished cities of the world.

Location: Hanumangarh, RajasthanEstablished in: 3700 BCAbandoned in: 1750 BCDiscovered in: 1919 AD; by Luigi Pio Tessitori, an Italian Indologist, who was doing work on Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas

Recommended Reading: 51 Unparalleled Places To Visit In Gujarat

A collage showing scenes from the submerged ancient city of Dwarka in Gujarat

2. Lothal – Gujarat

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Arguably the most important excavated city among the long gone cities of the world, Lothal still showcases the brilliance of urban planning and organized structures during the times of the Indus Valley Civilization. This is among the renowned forgotten ancient cities in India.

Location: Saragwala Village in Ahmedabad, GujaratEstablished in: 3700 BCAbandoned in: 1900 BCDiscovered in: 1954 AD

Recommended Read: 28 Mosques In India That Showcase The Finest Of Indo-Islamic Architecture

The famous Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh

3. Dwarka – Gujarat

The submerged city of Lord Krishna is one of the legendary forgotten cities. The present-day Dwarka is claimed to be the 7th city, with first 6 submerged off its coast in the Arabian Sea. Archaeologists, nevertheless, have only succeeded in recovering ruins that date back to the 15th century BC.

Location: GujaratEstablished in: 1500 BC (estimated)Abandoned in: 1443 BC (estimated)Discovered in: 1983 AD

Recommended Read: Dharavi Becomes The Most Popular Tourist Destination In India Surpassing The Taj Mahal

A shot of the ruins of Hampi as seen from Matanga Hill

4. Sanchi – Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi is the most renowned historical places in India. It is well-known for the Greco-Buddhist-styled Sanchi monuments and the Ashoka column that was erected during the time of Emperor Ashoka. One of the forgotten cities of the ancient world, it was later rediscovered in the 19th century.

Location: Sanchi Town, Madhya Pradesh Established in: 300 BC Abandoned in: 1300 AD Discovered in: 1818 AD; by British General Taylor

Suggested Read: 40 Tourist Spots In Madhya Pradesh That You Should Be Visiting Right Now

5. Vijayanagara – Hampi

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Though archaeologists have successfully found remains that date back to around 300 BC, the entire excavated city of Vijayanagar in Hampi belongs to the era of the empire by the same name. However, even the Hindu myth of Ramayana has mentioned Hampi by the name of Kishkinda – the realm of the monkey gods. This is one of the most popular forgotten ancient cities of the world.

Location: Hampi, Karnataka Established in: 1336 AD Abandoned in: 1565 AD Discovered in: 1800 AD; by Colonel Colin Mackenzie

Suggested  Read: 10 Forgotten Cities In India That Have Been Discovered


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6. Mohenjo-daro – Sindh

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Included among the ancient misplaced cities of the world, Mohenjo Daro was long misplaced until its discovery in 1922. Excavations exposed it to be one of the biggest cities of Indus Valley Civilization and one of the earliest metropolitan settlements in the world. The use of fire-burnt bricks to build well-organized structures and the astounding planning are what make the city so renowned. And among all the buildings & ruins uncovered, the structure of the Great Bath is the most well-known.

The excavated and restored site of Taxila at Rawalpindi in PakistanRuins of Mohenjo Daro at Sindh in Pakistan

Location: Sindh, PakistanEstablished in: 2500 BCAbandoned in: 1900 BCDiscovered in: 1922; by R. D. Banerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India

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7. Taxila – Rawalpindi

Image Source Taxila or Takshashila finds its mention in Indian & Greco-Roman literary sources and in the accounts of two Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, Faxian & Xuanzang. It was India’s largest seat of learning. According to the Hindu epic of Ramayana, Takshashila was founded by King Bharat who was Lord Rama’s sibling. The city is said to be named Bharata’s son Taksha, its first ruler. However, excavations could not prove its relation to anything preceding 600 BC.

An aerial view of the ruins of the lost city of Caral in Peru

Location: Rawalpindi, PakistanEstablished in: 600 BCAbandoned in: 500 ADDiscovered in: 1863 AD; by Sir Alexander Cunningham

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8. Caral – Barranca

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Caral was perceived to be the most ancient metropolis in the Americas until older sites like Bandurria in Peru were uncovered. No fortifications, no weapons, and no disfigured bodies have been found from the excavation sites. Consequently, the long-lost city is believed to be a dwelling place for a kindly society that was engaged in trade, music, and enjoyment.

View of the Lost Incan City of Machu Picchu near Cusco in Peru

Location: Supe Valley, Barranca Province, PeruEstablished in: 2600 BCAbandoned in: 2000 BCDiscovered in: 1905; but were promptly forgotten due to scarcity of artifacts before Paul Kosok reidentified it in 1948

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9. Machu Picchu – Cusco

Constructed as a mansion for emperor Pachacuti, Machu Pichhu is the most emblematic edifice of the Inca civilization. However, the edifice could only serve the dynasty for approximately a century and was forsaken during the Spanish conquest. In a worldwide survey of 2007, it was selected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

The Calakmul city hidden in the forest of Mexico

Location: Cusco Region, PeruEstablished in: 1450 ADAbandoned in: 1532 AD – 1572 ADDiscovered in: 1911 AD; by American historian Hiram Bingham

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10. Calakmul – Campeche

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The Mayan archaeological site of Calakmul was the capital of the Snake Empire. Literally meaning City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids, it had 2 extremely tall pyramids and hundreds of small buildings.

An archaeologist at the excavation site of the Maya city of Lagunita

Place: Campeche, MexicoEstablished in: 7th century; when Kaan dynasty relocated hereAbandoned in: 9th centuryDiscovered on: 29th December 1931; by biologist Cyrus L. Lundell

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11. Lagunita – Yucatán

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It wasn’t long ago that the long lost cities of Lagunita and Tamchen from the Mayan civilization were finally found in the jungles of Mexico. The discovery was made after examining aerial photographs of the region.

The stunning ruins of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey

Place: Yucatán Peninsula, MexicoEstablished in: 300 BCAbandoned in: 700 AD – 1000 ADDiscovered in: August 2014; by Ivan Sprajc – associate professor at the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts – following the descriptions of Swiss archaeologist Eric Von Euw who visited the site in 1970s

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12. Göbekli Tepe – Örencik

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Göbekli Tepe, the most ancient known temple of the world, predates the pottery neolithic era. Many circular & oval structures were found atop a hill. Evidence later proved that these structures weren’t used for domestic purposes, but primarily for religious purposes.

Place: Örencik, TurkeyEstablished in: 9600 BCEAbandoned in: 7300 BCEDiscovered in: 1963 CE

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13. Troy – Çanakkale

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Troy and the Trojan War were only mentioned in Ancient Greek myths for a long time until the city’s discovery in the late 19th century. One of the formerly legendary lost cities, Troy not only appears in the poetic works of Homer & others but was also adapted into an epic war film in 2004.

The hidden city in the Mesa Verde National Park

Place: Tevfikiye, Çanakkale Province, TurkeyEstablished in: 3000 BCEAbandoned in: 500 CEDiscovered in: 1870; by the renowned archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann

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14. Mesa Verde – Colorado

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A National Park & and a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde preserves some of the most well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the US. It is most famous for the Cliff Palace, which is regarded as the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

Stone age village Skara Brae on Orkney in Scotland

Place: Southwestern Colorado, USAEstablished in: 1190 CEAbandoned in: 1300 CEDiscovered in: 1988 CE; by cowboys Richard Wetherill and Charlie Mason

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15. Skara Brae – Orkney

Older than Stonehenge and Great Pyramids, Skara Brae is recognized as the Scottish Pompeii because it is highly well-maintained. It was a Neolithic settlement made of stone on the largest island in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland that was revealed after severe storms from 1850 to the mid-1920s.

A snap of a beautiful sunset at Pompeii that is one of the ancient lost cities of the world

Location: Bay of Skaill on the western coast of Mainland, Orkney, ScotlandEstablished in: 3180 BCAbandoned in: 2500 BCDiscovered in: 1850 AD

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16. Pompeii – Campania

Pompeii is one of the ancient vanished cities of the Roman empire that was destroyed and buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash after the immense eruption of Mount Vesuvius. When the site was found, the objects that were recovered were preserved due to the absence of air and moisture beneath the ash layer.

Location: Province of Naples, Campania district, ItalyEstablished in: 7th century BCAbandoned in: 79 AD; following the catastrophic eruption of Mount VesuviusDiscovered in: 1748; by the Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre

Ruins of the Roman city of Leptis Magna in Libya

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17. Leptis Magna – Khoms

The once-prominent Roman city, Leptis Magna, is acknowledged as one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the Mediterranean. The excavated site possesses well-preserved remains of a theater, amphitheater, marketplace, gates, Arch of Septimius Severus, and more.

Location: Khoms, LibyaEstablished in: 7th century BCAbandoned in: 7th century ADDiscovered in: Early 1920s; by Italian archaeologists

An excavated site of Helike in Greece

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18. Helike – Achaea

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Helike once served as an ancient Greek city that was submerged by a tsunami around 373 BC. The World Monuments Fund listed this location among the 100 most imperiled sites. This submerged town was one of the primary targets for underwater archaeology.

Location: Achaea, GreeceEstablished in:Abandoned in: 373 BC; when it became submerged after a tsunamiDiscovered in: 2001; by the Helike Society that was created after multiple previous discoveries that suggested the existence of the city

The submerged city of Heracleion in Egypt

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19. Heracleion – Alexandria

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The Lost City of Heracleion in Egypt was sought after for years within the vast area of the Abu Qir Bay. French archaeologist Franck Goddio came across the site submerged nearly 6.5 km off the coast of Alexandria. The underwater ruins here include 64 ships, 700 anchors, statues standing at a height of 16 feet, and remains of the grand temple of the god Amun-Gereb. Visiting this location is one of the popular activities in Egypt.

A night shot of the lost city of Petra in Jordon

Location: Alexandria, EgyptEstablished in: 12th century BC or earlierAbandoned in: 2nd century AD or 3rd century AD; possibly due to tremors followed by the liquefaction of the silts on which it was builtDiscovered in: 2000; by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio

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20. Petra – Ma’an Governorate

Petra Caves is an archaeological city situated in southern Jordan. Once a significant hub during ancient times, this location now represents the symbol of Jordan. The original name of the site was Raqmu, and it was inhabited in 7000 BC.

Location: Ma’an Governorate, JordanEstablished in: 312 BCAbandoned in: 663 AD; when the region was conquered by the Arabs following the major earthquakes of 363 AD & 551 ADDiscovered in: 1812 AD; by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt

Further Read: 14 Stunning Destinations That Will Vanish From The World Map By 2050

Boy, aren’t we grateful that these ancient lost cities of the world have been rediscovered! So, what’s stopping you? Plan a trip now and explore these beautiful places. You can also tailor your itinerary to your preferences and experience a vacation like never before!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Lost Cities Of The World

Are there any submerged cities?

Yes, there are numerous submerged cities according to many popular legends. One of them is the lost city of Atlantis.

Is there a hidden city in the Amazon?

According to the well-known novel The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession by David Grann, there does exist a mysterious and lost city in the Amazon forests. It is believed that Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett even vanished in the forest while searching for this city.

Is the Lost City of Z real?

Many believe that this city does indeed exist in the treacherous Amazon forests. The city was named by British surveyor Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, who believed in the existence of this indigenous city in the Amazon jungle. American author David Grann has even written a popular novel called The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession based on Fawcett’s quest to find this city in the Amazon.

Where is the submerged city of Atlantis located?

It is believed that the sunken city of Atlantis is located in the Atlantic Ocean just beyond the Pillars of Hercules (presumably the Strait of Gibraltar).

What happened to Pavlo Petri?

Pavlopetri was an ancient port city in the Bronze Age that became submerged approximately 3,000 years ago due to gradual erosion or other factors. It was situated on the southern coast of mainland Greece and was later discovered in 1967 under no more than 15 feet of water.

Is there really a city made of gold?

According to legend, Hawikuh, Halona, Matsaki, Quivira, Kiakima, Cibola, and Kwakina are the seven cities of gold located in the pueblos of New Mexico Territory. There is also believed to be a seventh city, but it has never been found.

How were ancient cities buried?

There are several reasons why many ancient cities were submerged long ago. Erosion, tsunamis, and floods are the main causes. Additionally, many of these are abandoned and uninhabited ancient towns that have been reclaimed by nature. This is due to the fact that plant seeds have a tendency to grow and create bulk from the carbon dioxide they absorb from the air, eventually leading to the submergence of the land.

Which city is known as the Lost City?

The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida in Spanish, is an archaeological site of an ancient city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of Colombia. It was supposedly discovered around 800 CE, over 650 years before Machu Picchu.

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