Famous Lost Cities Everyone Should Know

While traveling to an Australian island, archaeologists uncovered evidence of a large ancient city. After years of excavation, scientists have managed to piece together the civilization’s past.

The “lost cities like atlantis” is a topic that has been around for years. There are many lost cities that people should know about, such as the lost city of Atlantis.

Famous Lost Cities Everyone Should Know

Painting illustration of Lost City Temple in the jungle.

We’re back in the domain of Man Knowledge, where we’ll try to widen your grasp of numerous masculine themes so you’ll be prepared to participate when the topic comes up in discussion. This time, we’ll be hacking our way through the jungles of who-knows-where and delving to the darkest depths of undiscovered locales in pursuit of the most enigmatic of mysteries: Lost Cities.

Most of us were enthralled as children by stories of thrilling adventure in which characters like Indiana Jones and Allan Quatermain raced through treacherous jungles with savage tribesmen after them in quest of a rare treasure or other hidden riches. The lost city, which appears in many of these myths, continues to captivate the imaginations of both explorers and scholars alike. While many lost cities have been written off as legends, others are still thought to exist someplace, their fascinating ruins waiting to be discovered and shown to the world. The following is a quick look at a few of the most well-known lost cities, including some basic facts and the main ideas surrounding each place.

El Dorado

EI-Dorado lost city painting of gold pyramid.

The first known reference is from about 1530 in Spanish conquistadors’ writings.

Location Assumed: Outside of modern-day Bogota, Colombia

Status: Assumed to be a myth

El Dorado, along with Atlantis, is the most well-known of the lost cities, yet it is now widely assumed that it was never a city at all. The name El Dorado, which translates to “The Gilded One,” alludes to a long-dead Muisca tribal king, not a mythological lost city. This monarch, known as the Zipa by his people, is said to have been obligated to provide sacrifices to a tribal god who resided in Lake Guatavita by sacred obligation (in present day Columbia). Every morning, the monarch would cover himself in gold dust and swim out into the lake, while his subjects ceremonially tossed gold and diamonds into the lake from the shore. By 1545, tales of the Muisca’s rituals had reached Spanish conquistadors, who set out to subjugate them and capture their riches. The narrative expanded as news traveled, and it was assumed that a golden monarch would reside in a golden city. This, together with the conquistadores overhearing captives speak of a fabled city in the vicinity, gave rise to the legend of El Dorado, the lost city.

Several notable missions in quest of El Dorado were made, with frequently disastrous results. The misfortunes of Sir Walter Raleigh, an English nobleman who conducted two different voyages in pursuit of the location, were the most notorious. Raleigh claimed to have discovered a city like this in modern-day Venezuela, which he recorded in his book The Discovery of Guiana. Years later, when Raleigh returned to the area in pursuit of El Dorado, he instead encountered strife. Raleigh was brought back to England and promptly executed after an armed clash with Spanish troops in direct contravention of his instructions from English monarchy. Raleigh’s writings on the topic of El Dorado and his discoveries relating to the city are now widely thought to have been greatly overstated, which further added to the fabled character of the lost city for decades later.


Gaily bedight, A gallant night In sunshine and in shadow, In quest of El Dorado, he had traveled far, singing a song.

But he got old — this brave knight — and a gloom fell over his heart as he discovered no area of dirt that looked like El Dorado.

And, when his strength began to fail him, he came across a pilgrim shadow – “Shadow,” he murmured, “Where can it be – this kingdom of El Dorado?”

“Ride, bravely ride, over the Mountains of the Moon, through the Valley of the Shadow,” “If you’re looking for El Dorado,” the shadow said.

-El Dorado, Edgar Allen Poe

The Zodiac’s Lost City

Lost city of z painting temple in amazon jungle.

Manuscript 512 (National Library of Rio de Janeiro), written in the mid-eighteenth century by Portuguese explorer Joo da Silva Guimares.

Theorized Location: The Brazilian Amazonian area of Mato Grosso

Status: It’s possible that you’ve discovered it. The confirmation is still awaited.

The Lost City of Z was thought to be the capital city of a vast civilisation that once flourished in the Mato Grosso area of the Brazilian Amazon, and was made famous by famed explorer/madman British Colonel Percy Fawcett. In 1925, Fawcett, a legendary figure often regarded as the last man of the period of solo adventure, vanished into the Amazon with his son, initiating what has since been dubbed the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century. Fawcett based his conclusions about the City of Z’s existence and location on fragments of information gleaned from Portuguese explorers’ papers and putting together local traditions and folklore.

Percy Fawcett’s name may not be as well-known as it once was, but his life has left an indelible effect on history. Fawcett’s real-life exploits provided as inspiration for the renowned characters developed by authors H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle, since he was a personal acquaintance of both. For over a century, his disappearance, along with the mystery of the Lost City of Z, has captivated scholars and armchair explorers alike. While Fawcett’s mystery fate may never be known, others speculate that his famous Lost City of Z has been discovered. Kuhikugu, the remains of a huge, sophisticated civilisation deep in the Mato Grasso, were just recently unearthed. Scientists are still unearthing the enormity of this ancient metropolis, whose technology was as sophisticated as any other, using advanced technologies. While it is evident that a magnificent metropolis has been discovered in the area, the question of whether it matches the description of the legendary kingdom that prompted Fawcett’s tragic mission continues to be debated.



Atlantis underwater city ocean civilization with stone statues.

Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias are the first known references.

The Mediterranean Sea is the most often proposed location, while the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the South Pacific have all been suggested.

Status: Missing

Atlantis is the most well-known of the lost cities. It was first referenced in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias about 2000 years ago, and was characterized as a vast continent west of the “Pillars of Hercules” (the points of land that nearly meet where the Mediterranean Sea separates the Spanish and North African peninsulas). The Atlantean civilisation was said to have flourished somewhere in the Atlantic, with a “confederation of rulers, of immense and amazing might” (Plato, Timaeus) who maintained a large naval force in the area. The near-utopian civilization, according to Plato, had a terrible end when a devastating natural calamity caused the whole city to be swallowed up by the sea in a single day, leaving no evidence of its existence.

“One terrible day and night befell them, when the entire body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the Island of Atlantis was similarly swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore, the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, having been blocked up by the shoal mud that the island created as it settled down.”

Timaeus, Timaeus, Timaeus, Timaeus, Timaeus,

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was a resurgence of interest in the Atlantean tale, and searches grew increasingly widespread. The Nazi Party of Germany, which was known for its fascination with the occult and mysticism, funded extensive study into the lost city, claiming that the mythical Atlanteans were genetically related to the Aryan race. As our grasp of geological processes and plate tectonics grew, it became evident that the possibility of a whole continent vanishing overnight was exceedingly unlikely, and interest dwindled once again. However, for many aficionados, there are still many unsolved issues about Atlantis, and the hunt continues.


Unknown is the first known reference. It has its origins in Russian folklore from before the nineteenth century.

Western Russia, around the Volga River, is a possible location.

Status: Assumed to be a myth

Kitezh is a lesser-known lost city with roots in Russian religious mythology. It is said to be the Russian version of the Atlantis story, which is generally disregarded by current researchers as just a fable. Yuri II of Vladimir, a 12th-century Grand Prince, is said to have erected a splendid town on an island off the coast of Svetloyar Lake in modern-day western Russia. When Mongol invaders headed by Batu Khan set out to seize the town, they discovered it to be utterly exposed, with only the most basic defensive buildings. Even more incredible, the residents of the town made no attempt to defend themselves, preferring instead to kneel in prayer, pleading with the Almighty to protect them. The Mongols were unmoved by this demonstration of devotion and prepared to attack. As they neared, however, gigantic geysers erupted over the town, shooting high into the sky, stopping them in their tracks. Surprised, the Mongols halted their assault, watching as the geysers filled the town and the island started to sink slowly into the lake, with the island’s occupants begging for divine protection.


The facts concerning the potential existence of Kitezh and its mysterious departure are few and far between, as they are with any mythology. For years, the narrative has been flavored by oral tradition and folklore, and time has only added to the legend’s strange nature. On calm nights, it is said that bells and singing may be heard from the beaches of Svetloyar Lake, a guiding light that takes the pure of heart to the gates of Kitzeh, where its devout citizens continue to wander the streets, hidden from common men’s gaze.

Bonus: Troy’s Lost City is Discovered

Lost city of troy trojan horse painting depiction.

Homer’s Iliad, 8th century B.C., is the first known reference.

Northwest Turkey is a possible location.

It’s been found!

Troy, the majestic city at the heart of Homer’s epic Iliad, was long thought to exist only in oral tradition and the pages of Homer’s and later works. Heinrich Schliemann launched a surprise archaeological dig at a location in Northwest Turkey in the mid/late nineteenth century, and it was only then that it became evident that Homeric Troy was a genuine place. Schliemann, a rich businessman and self-taught archaeologist, utilized past studies conducted by the dig site’s owner to identify where to dig, and what he discovered would go on to become one of the most important archaeological investigations ever conducted.

Troy is a collection of archaeological sites that all exist in the same region and are concealed at differing depths under the earth’s surface. One of these towns, known as Troy VII(a), is usually regarded as Homer’s Iliad’s Troy. Troy, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and widely regarded as one of the greatest discoveries of the contemporary world, serves as proof that, although most lost cities will live on only in mythology, lost cities do sometimes turn up.

Additional Reading and Resources

Rebecca Stefoff’s Finding the Lost Cities

David Grann’s The Lost City of Z

Percy Fawcett’s Fawcett Exploration

David Hatcher Childress’s Lost Cities of Atlantis, Ancient Europe, and the Mediterranean



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The “ancient lost cities never found” is a famous phrase that has been used to describe the many ancient civilizations that were never found. These lost cities are still sought after today, and many people think they will be discovered in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most famous Lost City?

A: The most famous Lost City is the city of Petra in Jordan.

What are the 31 lost cities?

A: The 31 Lost Cities is a list of ancient multi-ethnic metropolises, discovered and partially excavated by archaeologists since the 19th century. It consists of six Old World sites from around 3000 BC to AD 900 that were once prosperous commercial centers or capitals in various parts of the world.

Which are the lost cities in the world?

A: The lost cities in the world are unknown locations which may or may not still exist.

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